‘Unalived’ meaning explained as TikTok phrase goes viral

People have been inventing methods to express forbidden, restricted, or otherwise algorithmically removed terms for as long as there have been rules about what you can and cannot say (on the internet or in real life). One of the more recent examples is the phrase “unlive,” which is also known as “unalived” – both of which are quite popular on TikTok and have a quite simple meaning. But it’s important to state it out loud. So, what exactly does “unalived” imply, and why has it been so popular since 2020?

What is the meaning of the TikTok phrase ‘unalived’?

The term “unlive” appears in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, although some word processors and dictionaries do not recognize it.

In a spiritual sense, it refers to people who are devoid of life. Literally, it means “lacking in sensitivity or feeling” – in other words, dead.

However, in the context of its contemporary usage, especially among TikTok users seeking to skirt the site’s algorithmic limitations, “unalived” refers to a condition much like death as a verb in the imperfect tense. “Unalive” is used to stand for both the infinitive form of the verb “die,” as well as the adjective “dead.”

The word may have started on TikTok. April 2021 saw The Daily Beast report on its usage, claiming that Zoomers (members of Generation Z, i.e., those born in the late 1990s and early 2000s) were employing “unalive” to “circumvent TikTok restrictions.” But it has since spread to other social media platforms.

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Why did TikTok users start using the word ‘unalive’?

The Tap to Death Broadcasting Network (TDB) defines “unalive” as: “TikTok generally eliminates videos that mention death, dying, or suicide, so Zoomers have found a loophole and are now using ‘unalive’ to replace its more harsh, more direct synonyms.”

“Unalive” is “often used on TikTok to refer to suicide, and it dodges the platform’s censors,” according to an editor’s note from EuroNews.

Meanwhile, the MIT Technology Review claimed in July of last year that TikTok was (incorrectly) flagging terms that included both “Black” and “audience,” due to the fact that its hate speech detection picked up on the ‘die’ in “audience” and deemed the relationship as harmful. The language, which has been diluted and manipulated as much as possible in order to make it friendly for a broad range of speakers, cannot escape the platform’s purview altogether. You may understand why some creators have chosen to address death without directly mentioning it when you look at where the platform is coming from with regard to flagging and censoring particular word combinations.

How has the meaning of the word “unalived” changed over time?

It makes sense that as a result of these challenges, many people are searching for ways to relieve their anxiety. In 2020 and 2021, many individuals have found it difficult. According to April 2017 statistics, the “unalive” hashtag had over 9 million views; #unaliveme had more than 1 million.

Because more and more people are using the term in postings about suicide, it is becoming increasingly common. To such an extent that some websites define “to commit suicide” as the primary meaning of “unalive,” with adults and teenagers being the most frequent users of the phrase.

The most popular ones, from the past several days, have been liked tens of thousands of times. It’s also showing up on Twitter and Instagram. Perhaps it’s because people are using it more now due to fashion than out of need.

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