‘W anchor’ meaning explained as phrase trends on Twitter... and on t-shirts

Bruno Cooke November 24, 2021

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What does it mean when someone writes a “W” and an anchor emoji side by side? If it’s not already clear to you, here’s an explainer. Clue: it’s less to do with meaning, and more to do with sound.

‘W anchor’ meaning explained

First, pronounce the sound of the “W”. Don’t say “double-u”, just make the sound. 

Then, say what you see. If the text you’re trying to get to the bottom of has the word “anchor”, say “anchor”. If it’s an emoji, you still say what it is: an anchor.

Say them in quick succession. Or rather, one after the other so that they form one word. That word is what people mean when they write “W anchor” or “w⚓︎”.

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What does the word mean that a ‘W’ and an anchor emoji make?

American English and British English are fundamentally the same, but there are some… stylistic differences. 

Especially when it comes to slang phrases and lexical vulgarities, the two languages diverge quite considerably.

While it may not be an everyday word for most people, the word “w****r” is widely understood in British English to mean, on the one hand, a stupid person – synonyms include “jerk” and “dolt” – and on the other, someone who masturbates.

The word takes the infinitive form of the verb “to w**k” and adds -er to make it a noun. Like a banker is someone who banks, and like a flanker is someone who flanks, a w****r is someone who w***s.

Can it mean anything else?

There are other contexts where having a “w” directly precede the word “anchor”, or an anchor emoji, means something different to the definition above.

In the context of a recent tweet about Inspired By Iceland’s Mark Zuckerberg parody, the phrase “w an anchor” means “with an anchor”. People writing on the internet regularly contract the word “with” to a simple “w”.

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Separately, in climbing and canyoneering, there is such a thing as a “W’Anchor” – pronounced the same. It is a contraction of Water Anchor, and is different from a regular anchor (that goes in water). 

The W’Anchor is a “retrievable water-based system to allow forward progress down a canyon”, per On Rope Canyoneering’s description of the product.

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Yes, there are also t-shirts

You may have seen t-shirts bearing the phrase, “Don’t be a W⚓︎” or simply “W⚓︎”. 

You can get hold of “w anchor” t-shirts at Amazon (UK site here), SpreadShirt, RedBubble, TeePublic and of course Etsy, among other vendors.

Just be aware that if you have inquisitive kids, they’re going to ask you what a “w anchor” is – what it means – and you’ll have to explain it to them. And they’ll probably find it funnier than you.

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Bruno is a postgraduate student studying global journalism, with research interests in the intersection of the media, storytelling, culture and politics. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Packs Light and Forge Press, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com. He is a Student Ambassador for Tortoise Media, a big fan of Freddie Mercury and a novelist – his debut novel, Reveries, is available on Amazon.