Zerg Rush


Zerg Rush meaning, origins, and use



Mike Hadge


Zerg Rush is a slang term used online to describe a scenario where an individual is faced with an overwhelming onslaught of opposition. The term originates from the popular online strategy game, Starcraft

zerg rush meme
Zerg rush

‘Zerg Rush’ origins

To properly look at the origins of “Zerg Rush,” we must first look at Starcraft. The game was developed by Blizzard Entertainment, makers of World of Warcraft, and other popular roleplaying games. Its first edition was released in 1998, but it’s evolved and grown since, spawning many different iterations and upgrades. 

The story and game are set at the beginning of the 26th century and center around an epic galactic battle between four different types of beings: the Terrans, the Zerg, the Protoss, and the powerful Xel’Naga.

In the game, players choose to play as either the Terrans, the Zerg, or the Protoss. (Sorry, Xel’Naga heads.) It all occurs in a far-off Milky Way galaxy known as the Koprulu Sector. 

In the context of the game, the “Zerg” is a race known for its ability to mass produce offensive units in short order, allowing the player to overpower opponents by pure volume. Hence, the overwhelming attack implied by the slang term. 

What about the ‘rush’ part of Zerg rush?

In the context of a real-time strategy game, to “rush” is to utilize a fast-attack strategy, which involves mobilizing one or several different unit types as quickly as possible to swiftly inflict damage.

In Starcraft, this is a specific skill of the Zerg, who build units in a much shorter time frame compared to the Terrans or Protoss. Because of this, it’s common practice for players to establish a “no rush in __ minutes” rule when playing online. 

Take a look at the rush in action: 

Doing the actual rushing, most commonly, are the Zerglings. These little fellas are the first battalions of Zergs which can be produced quickly, as they are small and cheap to summon.

An official Zergling rush involves six or more Zergling units attacking as early in a match as possible. The strategy became popular in a wide way once players realized one definitive Zergling rush could finalize a game in under five minutes. These little guys don’t mess around. 

‘Zerg Rush’ usage

zerg rush game screenshot

The usage of “Zerg Rush” as we know it today was born from Korean players, who are a large base of the game’s players internationally. Over the course of one game, a player launched a Zergling rush against an opponent, who declared “OMG ZERG RUSH.”

The attacker’s response was “KEKEKE,” which is basically “lololol” in Korean. While no visual evidence has been preserved to support the story, this conversation is usually cited as the origin of the usage. 

“KEKEKE,” in the Zerg Rush-verse, has almost acted as a sidekick. Robin to ZR’s Batman, if you will. But its true power lies not only in its appropriate meaning for such an occasion, that being a mischievous snicker, but the phrase also embodies the actual sound of Zerglings when attacking.

As a result, “KEKEKE” became quickly associated with Zerg rushing among English-speaking participants. 

Slang spread

Online community YTMND (You’re the Man Now DogO\) was the earliest instance of a “Zerg Rush” reference outside of the game itself. On May 17th, 2004, user thecombatwombat kicked off the trend, though it truly took off a month later with a post by CheezWhizWario.

The post led to more than 40 variations on the theme. “Zerg Rush” was entered into the Urban Dictionary by Fluoronaut on July 19, 2003.

zerg rush definition
Meggido/Urban Dictionary

However, the most significant boon for “Zerg Rush” thus far was a YTMND post by user GoldBean LOLZergRush from 2006, which garnered over 50,000 views in short order.

Since then, the term has gained prominence for use whenever someone online is being ganged up on in any situation, Starcraft-independent. 

Zerg Rush was a Google easter egg

You know you’ve made it in the culture when Google dedicates its homepage to you. On April 27th, 2012, Google rendered the search tool so that entering the term “zerg rush” would launch a playable game with tiny “o” characters that zerg rush results if they are not clicked. 

Examples in culture: Zerg Rush Stalingrad

In 2020, Twitter account @RoyalistW suggested Adolf Hitler “could’ve won” WWII had his army “Zerg Rushed” Stalingrad to cut off Soviet oil, to much derision.

The screenshot was reposted to r/ShitWehraboosSay (a Wehraboo, according to Wiktionary, is “A person who is obsessed with or romanticizes the Wehrmacht or Nazi Germany, sometimes to the point of denying their historical war crimes.”)

In Body Image


In 2022, Oleksii Arestovych, a top advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, appeared on a chat show with Russian political figure Mark Feygin to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, describing the fear of a Zerg rush.

“I always put myself in the position of the enemy, so I thought—there are some signs that they are preparing a Zerg rush for us,” Arestovych told Feygin. “Do you know this term?”

In Body Image

When Feygin said he did not, Arestovych replied: “It’s a computer game, it has a nation—Zergs, insects. And since earthings and another people have advanced technology, these just throw in masses.”

Zerg rush memes:

zerg rush meme stalingrad
zerg rush teacher meme
In Body Image

More slang:

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