What does ‘yiff’ mean, and why do furries use it?

Most internet users know two things about furries: They like to wear fursuits in public and they enjoy “yiffing.” One BuzzFeed article, for example, wrote about New Jersey police cracking down on a furry barbecue “due to yiffing.”

Yiff’s meaning is an infamous one, and as you may have guessed, it has to do with sex. It’s also been around for nearly three decades, predating iconic furry sites like FurAffinity and Tumblr. It’s part of furry history: Our ancestors yiffed, their ancestors yiffed, and chances are if you’re a furry, you yiff too.

So, if you want to know what “yiff” is, where it came from, and what it means to “yiff” someone, read on for our deep dive into all things yiffy.

The following article contains sexually explicit images.

What does yiff mean, and where did it come from?

What is yiffing?

Yiff Meme zendrin-maybe

“Yiff” is an “onomatopoetic word and/or sound” used “as an expression of sexual interest or activity,” according to WikiFur. “Yiff” is also a catch-all term for furry sex, sexual material in the furry community, or erotic roleplays. It can be used as a noun, verb, or adjective.

Here are some examples:

  • “I’m glad you like my work, I’m a huge fan of yiff myself.”
  • “Are those two catboys yiffing at the barbecue?”
  • “Yiff artists, please refrain from posting your porn in our Facebook group.”

These days, “yiff” is most commonly used as a tongue-in-cheek term referring to sexual roleplay between furries, not unlike saying “internet sex” or “computer sex.” However, “yiff” is still used unironically for erotic play, sexual activity (“yiffing”), and, perhaps most commonly, as an adjective for erotic content.

“Yiff” is pronounced like “stiff,” “cliff,” “sniff,” and other “-iff” words.

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What’s the history behind yiff and yiffing?

Yiff History Shaiith/Shutterstock

No definitive account exists on yiff’s emergence. WikiFur points to Foxen, a furry roleplayer who created a furspeak language called “Foxish” based on various cute, onomatopoetic words for foxes’ yelps and yips.

In Foxish, “yiff” was originally a sound of pleasure or delight. It was purely platonic in nature and was commonly used as a greeting. Yiff’s sexual definition stems from another word: yipp. In a 2001 retrospective posted on Everything2 by a user claiming to be Foxen, the user alleges another unnamed furry took the word “yipp” and turned it into “a sexual proposition,” thereby making it “generally considered not polite.”

“Later on, some wolves redefined yiff to more or less take the place of yipp, as a generic term for sex,” the post says. “It soon became a noun, a verb, an adjective, and about as many other parts of speech as smurf.”

4chan Yiff Meme Know Your Meme

Yiffing broke out into the mainstream from an unexpected source: anti-furry hatred. During the 2000s, sites like 4chan showed aggressive disdain for the furry community, and users would regularly target, criticize, and ridicule fans. Furries’ sexual interests dominated these conversations, and words like “yiff” and “yiffing” were regularly thrown around to mock the community.

Know Your Meme points to “yiff in hell” as one popular meme used to tell furries to “take the activities commonly associated with yiffing elsewhere.” 4chan users commonly extended the phrase to “yiff in hell, furfags” in a homophobic attempt to suggest the furry community and queer community are equally sexually deranged. This was particularly loaded, given how the furry community identifies as queer at much higher rates than the non-furry population.

While anti-furry hate has died down in recent years, “yiff” lingers on from its imageboard legacy and is often used to make fun of the furry community’s hypersexual side. Not all of this is in bad faith, either. Furries like to use the term to poke fun at themselves, and it’s not uncommon to see millennial furries joke about “yiffing” each other on Twitter.

Why are there so many porn sites with ‘yiff’ in the name?

Yiffalicious Porn Yiff Yiffalicious

In the modern search engine-driven age (which is probably how you found this article in the first place), “yiff” is a convenient tag for labeling and sharing furry porn. Over the years, adult sites have gradually incorporated “yiff” into their names, and most contemporary adult furry creators use “yiff” in some shape or form while exchanging their content.

Examples of sites that use the word “yiff” include:

  • Yiffalicious: A 3D furry porn game
  • Yiffer.xyz: A high quality furry porn comic curation website
  • Yiff.Life: An 18+ Mastodon instance for queer furries
  • Yiff Spot: An anonymous erotic roleplay service that matches furries with each other
  • r/Yiff: A popular furry porn subreddit known for its infamous moderator Evil Sibe
  • The Yiff Gallery: A furry porn comics imageboard

Most controversial of all is Yiff.Party, a piracy website that hosts content stolen from yiff artists on Patreon. The site was originally created as an experiment, although its popularity skyrocketed after it was posted on 8chan, Kotaku’s Cecilia D’Anastasio wrote in 2018. “Knowing that people out there would rather pirate my work than spare $10 or even $1 to support me making more work hurts a lot. It makes a lot harder to feel like what I do is worth the time and effort,” one furry artist told Kotaku.

While several sites with pirated material use “yiff” in their names, the word isn’t synonymous with piracy. Yiffer.xyz, for example, actively avoids hosting copyrighted adult content. Just as “porn” can be used to describe legal and pirated content alike, so can “yiff.”

So go ahead, yiff all you want. Just remember to yiff responsibly.

Ana Valens

Ana Valens

Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.