The initialism YMMV is common online. You will often see it on social media, as well as text messages and website comments. Not sure what it means? That̵
What does it mean?
YMMV stands for “Your mileage may (or could) vary.” This acronym is often used to indicate the differences between people’s experiences, preferences, or locations. It’s similar to AFAIK: “As far as I know.”
It’s also a fairly common phrase in real-world conversations. The literal version, which refers to the actual fuel consumption of a vehicle, is a helpful disclaimer. Even if two people drive the same car, their driving habits may result in different gas efficiencies.
The story of YMMV
In contrast to other initialisms that were invented and developed on the Internet, “Your mileage may vary” dates back to the 1970s and 1980s in the USA. During this time, automakers have often advertised their estimated mileage to competition.
However, due to the varying driving conditions, they had no way of guaranteeing the exact mileage that customers would actually get. Therefore, these advertisements contain the disclaimer “Your mileage may vary.”
This phrase continued to be used in common conversation and eventually became a common American idiom. It probably became an initialism in the 90s or 00s when people started shortening the language on internet platforms like Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and Instant Messenger (IM).
The usage of YMMV continued to grow and is now featured frequently on Yelp and Amazon reviews, tweets, and message boards.
Compare products and services
You will often see YMMV in online product reviews and buying guides. With this in mind, reviewers try to temper a reader’s expectations as personal experiences with the same product may vary.
For example, if you’re writing a review of a cell phone, you might say, “The battery life generally lasted all day, but YMMV.” This means that the battery life depends on your usage habits. If the screen and cellular data are turned on frequently, the battery is likely to drain much faster.
You can also apply this term to products or services that may not be completely consistent with every purchase. For example, if you order groceries through an app, the quality at the time of delivery will likely depend on how far you are from the restaurant. Your mileage may vary depending on the address.
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The buying experience
In addition to differences in products and services, YMMV can also be applied to the actual buying experience. An example would be when someone says they managed to get a discount code for a shopping page that is sent to their email. Not everyone may receive this code, so this person may indicate that “Your mileage may vary”.
For example, let’s say someone writes on a message board that a particular video game is 50% cheaper at their local Best Buy. While this is helpful information, there are a ton of Best Buys in the US and the game may not be discounted at all.
In this situation, YMMV would work to signal that people should meet their expectations.
Another common use of YMMV is to accommodate disagreements, especially when discussing arts and entertainment. If you recommend a terrible horror movie, you might say, “I really enjoyed how terrible that movie was, but YMMV.” This means that you take into account people’s different levels of tolerance for anxiety.
This is the friendlier version of IMO (“in my opinion”) or IMHO (“my humble (or honest) opinion”). In this usage, YMMV conveys that tastes can vary greatly from person to person.
Use of YMMV
“Your mileage may vary” is pretty easy to use. If you’re having trouble, swap it for “but your experience might be different” and you get essentially the same meaning.
Here are a few ways you can use YMMV:
- This laptop is pretty heavy in the hand, but YMMV.
- I managed to get the $ 5 deal at my local office around noon, but YMMV.
- I love the band’s new album, but YMMV.
- YMMV but it took about four days for the package to arrive.
Would you like to learn more about other online terms? Next, check out SMH and TBH!