“Derp:” It’s Not Just a Facial Expression Anymore!

You might have seen this strange word on the Internet, perhaps not known what it was…yet it always occurs in the funniest or strangest circumstances. What is a “derp?”

“Official” Internet Definitions

According to UrbanDictionary.com, a derp can be many things, such as a silly facial expression, incomprehensible speech, or an idiotic moment. I, however, find definitions #3 and #5 to be most applicable to my experience of “derp”:

  • #3: A literary or spoken phrase that combines elements of “WTF” and “cool story bro”. Laced with condescension “derp” is a common form of web-based libel that is almost didactic; however not quite as it is generally a sardonic gesticulation rather than moralistic chastisement. The spoken sense of the world itself conveys an intrinsic feeling of disappointment with a subtle hint of disgust and an overtone of rebuke.
  • #5: A word uttered when one screws up. origin: Matt Stone and Trey Parker in BASEketball. Used as an interjection.

Additionally, according to KnowYourMeme, derps arose from pure stupidity and remains that way today (see the exhibit of “derp” faces, with eyes pointed in different directions and a strange smile). KnowYourMeme also gives important background information as to the origins of the “derp.” Many more of these stupidity examples and distorted speech/facial expressions can be found on Derp.com.

However, I have come up with my own definition of the derp, from my own life:

DERP: n. a silly, almost instinctive mistake; a brain fart; a moment of abject ignorance.

DERP: v. making a silly, almost instinctive mistake; having a brain fart; acting ignorant.

Derivatives: derpy, derping

Pictorial Examples of This Definition

All images from Derp.com

I am quite capable of acting like this–saying stuff that doesn’t make sense, making crazy facial expressions, etc.–and have proven that wondrous ability on several occasions (much to my dismay). Sometimes, I have no idea why I derp, and that is one of the inherent qualities of the derp: it happens, and it happens to everyone at random times!

Derps I Have Done and Seen

  • Self-Derp: I carefully saved 10 picture sources (web addresses) for a future blog post. Later that night, I apparently went on a file-deleting spree and got rid of the entire file.
  • Self-Derp: I knew that I needed to stop for gas, but I drove 2 miles past the gas station I meant to go to anyway.
  • Self-Derp: Upon stepping up to the pulpit microphone to introduce another person at church, I stumbled over pronouncing their name, the title of the song they were doing, and the word “the”, all in one sentence.
  • Driver-Derp: In an unfamiliar city, I got into a traffic lane that I thought would continue on, only to look ahead and see that it ended in 500 feet. Fastest lane-change-back I’ve ever done!
  • Driver-Derp: A person I was driving behind in Charlotte traffic switched lanes precisely four times, from far left to middle left, from middle left to far left, from far left to far right (not kidding), and then back to middle right. Not sure what that was about, as there were no other cars to pass on the road.
  • Pet-Derp: Maggie, my boyfriend’s family cat, ran into the kitchen, started doing a big back stretch, then abruptly faceplanted and skittered a couple of feet like she was after a bug or mouse. Afterwards, she did an “I completely meant to do that” paw-washing.
  • Pet-Derp: Reesie, my boyfriend’s family dachshund, tried at least 50 times to get up on the armchair, jumping and jumping. When she finally succeeded, her first action was to slide back off, then try to jump back on again, for no apparent reason.

Derps in Entertainment: Why Are They So Funny?

From misspoken words to wardrobe malfunctions and other bloopers, derps appear on TV funny reels more often than anywhere else. Heck, there are even whole shows dedicated to the derp (America’s Funniest Home Videos, anyone?).

And, as I’ve referred to before, nowadays there are zillions of websites about derpy moments, either photographed or retold in words. Submitters to The Cheezburger Network and Spartz make tons of contributions to the derp culture every day, from funny cat captions to iPhone autocorrects and everything in between. And we eat it up, because it reflects our lives and our own derpiness. (If that isn’t a word, I’m making it one now–that’s not a derp in itself. LOL)

Derps are funny, random moments in life that are occasionally captured in a picture or memorialized in a video (and usually hastily put up on the Internet, LOL). They are reminders that we’re human and we make randomly funny/strange mistakes. They are also reminders that none of us is safe from derping; in fact, the most enjoyment comes from seeing that the richest, kindest, most put-together or most famous among us can still derp, too!

Have a Funny Derp?

Have a derp story to match the ones I’ve already told in this article? Got a funny derp picture to share? Tell me in the comments!

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