The trends on TikTok aren't always super logical or easy to understand, and can sometimes involve the use of acronyms or phrases that some people aren't familiar with. Recently, the word "riririri" has become common on the platform, although there are plenty of people who have no idea what it means. Like many TikTok trends, the story is not as simple as it may seem.
What does "riririri" mean on TikTok?
Throughout 2021, users have been posting videos about the word "riririri" and the ominous definitions associated with it. One user who's handle is @whoaanellyy pointed out that if you type some variation of the word into a comment and hold down on it until a window pops up, the app will translate the phrase. These translations typically have a pretty terrifying bent to them.
"If you type riririri, whatever spaces, and then translate the comment, it says really scary s--t," the user wrote on her video. Understandably, most of the comments under the video are people trying the trick themselves, and seeing what kind of translation they get back.
"Which is the most important thing?" one of the translations said. "This is the next full day. This is the second full day, where is it?"
"It’s just a matter of time. It cries. It stands. It’s over. This is the next level," another translation said.
Others included "Suffering. Suffering. Suffering. Suffering. It’s all right," and, "This is the second time. Crying? What is the true meaning of life? It’s all about you."
Clearly, the phrase has some ominous connotations that even those using aren't always aware of.
There were several theories about what the phrase might mean.
Plenty of people were freaked out by the translations, but some also offered theories about what the phrase was used for. While one user joked that TikTokers were trying to summon Rihanna, others said that the phrase was a military code that was commonly used when something wasn't okay.
Some people also typed the phrase into Google translate to see what language the phrase is from.
As it turns out, "riririri" can be translated from Maori, which is the language of one of the endangered indigenous tribes that are native to New Zealand. In Maori, the phrase "riri" refers to “the expressions of anger, rage, fury, annoyance and the like.” The phrase "iriririr," on the other hand, can be linked to native languages in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
It's possible, then, that TikTok's translation software is liberally translating the Maori word in order to create fairly ominous messages. Others have suggested that translations of the phrase trigger some sort of glitch on TikTok, and that explains the terrifying messages that are coming out of the translation software.
Whatever the real reason is, it's clear that "riririri" has been a powerful enough phrase to intimidate those who aren't sure what it means. TikTok isn't usually a scary place, but for those who play with the translation feature, it could become one.