KEKW: what does it all mean?

Horde players spell out “LOL,” and Alliance players see “KEKE.” Get it?


Mike Hadge


KEKW is a Twitch emote FrankerFaceZ extension that features the face of Spanish actor and comedian Juan Joya Borja, who also goes by the Spanish Laughing Guy meme. 

The custom emote picked up steam late in the summer of 2019, when the feature was utilized on Twitch to convey mischievous laughter. 

kekw meme

The origin of KEKW

Ground zero for KEKW came in June 2007, when Borja, who goes by “El Risitas” (aka “The Giggles”) was interviewed on Spanish-language television program Ratones Caloraos by host Jesus Quintero.

At one point in the interview, Borja told a story about throwing kitchen pans into the ocean while working at a beach restaurant at a young age. Said story caused Borja to absolutely lose it. 

That image of his laughter became KEKW. 

As for the phrase itself, “KEK” is actually the Korean equivalent of “LOL,” with some pointing out that the true origin of “KEKW” is World of Warcraft.

In that game, if an Alliance player writes “LOL” to someone playing as a Horde, it’s transcribed as “KEK.” The “W” tacked on at the end is meant to convey an exaggerated facial expression. 

Own3D Kekw Variation

Spread of the emote

FrankerFaceZ is a custom Twitch emote website. If you’re a Twitch streamer or viewer, you’ve undoubtedly utilized and/or seen oodles of its handiwork. On August 21, 2019, user Keesual submitted the emote, built around the still image of Borja’s laughter. 

Over the next couple weeks, the emote was utilized by several prominent “meme”-centric Twitch streamers, notably xQc and AdmiralBulldog, the latter of which skyrocketed the emote’s use on the platform. 

Steam post of Kekw

What does KEKW mean on Twitch?

Simply put, KEKW is typically used when something particularly hilarious occurs during a Twitch stream, the equivalent of “lol” or the laughing face-emoji or “roflmao.” Pretty straightforward, but it feels quite different than its text equivalents somehow.

Note that uses of KEKW can also include lowercase versions (“kekw”), which we can all agree is far more adorable. You may also see variations of the emote on Twitch, including “KEKWow” or “KEKWhat.”

X post by @zenossu of Kekw in use

How is KEKW pronounced?

There’s a strong debate among users how to correctly pronounce KEKW. Some say it as “Kew-kwuh,” while others use “Keh-kuh-wah.” I personally read it as “Keh-kew.”

Regardless, there’s seemingly no right or wrong way to pronounce it.

Why is KEKW banned?

While it wasn’t necessarily “banned,” Twitch removed the emote following the death of Juan Joya Borja on April 28, 2021, at age 65 in what was a show of respect. 

If you’re saying “Hey, don’t I know this Borja guy from something else?” You just may, for he was also known as the Spanish Laughing Guy meme.

Juan Joya Borja Death post by @FionnOnFire on X

RIP Juan Joya Borja and thanks for making us “KEKW.”

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