What does 'skill issue' mean?

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What does ‘skill issue’ mean?

A term that got popular in gaming communities has evolved into a more general insult online.


Audra Schroeder

Internet Culture

Posted on Sep 5, 2023

“Skill issue” is a phrase that originated in gaming communities as a criticism or insult, but now its definition has expanded quite a bit, thanks in part to its popularity on TikTok.

What is a skill issue and where did the phrase come from?

Where does skill issue come from?

The term is believed to have originated on gaming platforms like Twitch and Reddit, along with variations “simply a difference in skill” and “sounds like a skill issue.” A Reddit post asking about the origin of the phrase suggests it came from someone saying it in a Smash Bros. tournament, but elsewhere it’s been attributed to the Friday Night Funkin’ and Rogue Lineage gaming communities.

Initially, it was a retort to someone asking or complaining about an aspect of a game, as a way to say they lack the skills to finish. Or, as Urban Dictionary notes, “A word describing the lack of skill in ones [sic] performance in a game.”

But it has caused some annoyance within the community after being overused. “[I]t was supposed to be a witty way of saying ‘you suck,'” reads a 2022 Reddit post. “There’s nothing witty or original about it if you literally see it 5 times under every post.”

@trashsquish Reply to @zenaicore a good player wouldn’t have a client that crashes 🤷🏾‍♂️ #leaguetok #leaguetiktok #seasquish #leagueoflegends ♬ original sound – mistifulplays

Outside of gaming communities, it started being used to refer to general incompetence, or as a snarky retort to shut someone down.

Skill issue memes

While it’s still not clear what year it originated, according to Know Your Meme, it started being used in memes and reaction GIFs in late 2020. The diagnosis: skill issue meme format was also popular.

While still used in gaming circles, in the last year or so, skill issue has been applied to more “classic” meme formats.

Skill issue on TikTok

The phrase has evolved the most on TikTok, where it doesn’t have to do with gaming at all. However, a lot of the videos are using it to place blame on someone for something that might not be their fault.


my sister sold chickens on the black market

♬ original sound – riya

“Skill issue” – 🤓🤓🤓🤓🤓

♬ Un Poco Loco – From "Coco"/Sped Up Version – Anthony Gonzalez & Gael García Bernal

And people are overusing it on TikTok as well. Under several videos asking what it means, are comments that just read: skill issue.

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*First Published: Sep 5, 2023, 8:25 am CDT