Monday 5 December 2011, 10.21am HKT

FEELING DEPRESSED? Frustrated? Hopeless? Remorseful?

Are you feeling defeated?

Did the bastards grind you down?

Then start using ‘orz‘ to express that feeling!

Probably not much seen in Westerners’ web writing and communication, orz is one of theose emoticons or net-slangs more often seen in Far East Asia. Indeed, Asian Facebookers often litter their status updates with ‘orz‘ (and other lulz-inducing gibberish) and it can be quite frustrating to fathom what they’re saying if you aren’t hip to orz.


Orz is the emoticon of someone on their hands and knees, head down — probably banging it on the floor. Most emoticons instead denote facial expressions, such as :) (for ‘smiles’) or >_< (for ‘unpleased’), so this one is quite a bit different from the rest.

You use orz to show you’re feeling hopeless or defeated or have given up something (usually as a result of your own failure). You can also use it to show your frustration towards others (similar to facepalm).

(Hmm, headfloor just doesn’t seem to have the same cachet as orz now.)

Responsible for giving us orz was The Land That Gave Us Weird Since 1957 (a.k.a. Japan). Lots of Japanese films, TV shows and mangas show characters kneeling on the ground in defeat.

As the saying goes, “Don’t let the bastards grind you down,” but if you HAVE BEEN ground down by the bastards, this is how you’d feel.

You gotta hand it to Japanese creativeness for inventing something so small like orz to express that posture.

Variations of orz are OTL, OTZ, ORL, O7Z, _|7O, STO, Sto and JTO, but none of them are as famous as orz.

Orz should not be confused with m(_ _)m, which means ‘thank you’ or an apology.

Unlike text memes such as *facepalm*, *headdesk* or the older-fashioned *grin* or some other brain-damaged crap enclosed in two asterisks, orz is used on its own with no embellishments.

Some rules of usage (to show your hip to it and avoidance of embarrassment):

Dude I just lost a bet orz. (No final comma needed.)

I left my gf’s house with blue balls orz

I’m sad orz

I failed the test orz

Why does everyone hate me so much? Orz

Hello! Orz are *dance” with the *silly cows* at the *party*! Is it time to *squirt*?

If you are to use capitals, use OTZ or OTL instead, but it looks better in orz.

Orz can be used as a suffix to add emphasis to a word, mostly on the last word of the sentence. That usage was most common during the great Pie and Waffle wars on TGS (The Gamer Studio, a video gaming site).

Person 1: omg! u have wafflesorz!
Person 2: yeah my waffles roffles your soxorz
Person 1: i bow to your mighty soxorz!

How orz spread

The prototype ASCII art _| ̄|○ was first used in 2002 on a Japanese website called Techside.net. A poster there asked about a cable, and typed  _| ̄|○ to show a cable and its cover. People thought it looked more like a person in supplication instead. From then on, it spread across Japanese blogs and forums like Futaba Channel, becoming used in jest to convey frustration or despair.

Pretty soon the creative types managed to convert  _| ̄|○ into the eminently typeable orz and OTL.

In 2003, the Korean web (through the imageboard DCInside) and then the Chinese web got hold of orz, and never looked back.

If you have Asian friends, sooner or later you’ll start seeing orz on their Facebook updates and in their inane blogposts, and even general communication.

I didn’t want to ask, so I only realised the meaning a long time afterwards orz…

“Don’t let the bastards grind you down!”

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011. Images via Know Your Meme.

4 Responses to “Orz”

  1. Ed Hurst said

    Let me see if I get this right: I have to turn off the JScript to stop the annoying and distracting snowflakes falling, but I have to turn it back on to comment orz.


  2. Ed Hurst said

    Um, no. I now use a Win7 laptop. And it’s not a big deal, since I use Opera with the “Enable JavaScript” switch on the interface. The problem with stuff moving on screen is my ADD. I was just trying to make sure I got the use of “orz” correct.


Comments are closed.

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