How to Find out What That Hashtag Means

Have you ever seen a hashtag on Twitter – you know, those jumble of characters that #startswithahashtag – and wondered what it meant? It’s not easy to dive into the lingo of the Twitter-sphere, especially if you’re new – but we’re here to help. We’ve got three sure-fire ways to figure out what any hashtag means, see how many people are talking about it, and polish up your Twitter vocab.

You have options when looking for the meaning behind hashtags. Of course, you could just tweet out “What does #thishashtag mean?”, but that’s ignoring some pretty basic Twitter etiquette.

Instead, check out these three tools that we think are invaluable when dealing with hashtags. They each do something slightly different, and they work best when used in tandem.

What the Hashtag

What the Hashtag is a service that lets you search for any hashtag and shows you a user-edited encyclopedia-type entry about what it means. You can enter any hashtag, and you’ll be taken to a page that includes a description of that hashtag, some of the most recent tweets that include that hashtag, as well as a chart depicting how many tweets were sent out per day in the past week that included that hashtag.

If you search for #teamcoco for example, What the Hashtag will tell you that, “If you are a fan of the King of Late night Show host @ConanOBrien, then you are probably on #teamcoco”. It also shows a graph that tells you that people were talking about #teamcoco the most this week on February 3rd. You can arm yourself with this info and get in on a hashtag conversation with confidence next time you log in to Twitter.

What the Trend

What the Trend shows you the top hashtag and non-hashtag trending topics. It lists the 10 top trending phrases at any given moment on Twitter, along with a short description of each. Just underneath the written description is how long ago this phrase started trending, and when it received its description.

What the Trend also shows you the top trending topics in several geographic areas. You can also view all of the trends from the pat 24 hours, and sort by verified trends, explained trends and much more.

The number-one trending topic right now is #scariestwordsever, which What the Trend describes as “Users are tweeting words/phrases that would be the scariest to ever hear”. This became a trend just about 10 minutes ago, and it was defined 7 hours ago – indicating that it is a newer trend that likely hasn’t been around the Twitter-verse before.


The third tool in your hashtag arsenal should be Trendistic. This app is invaluable in showing you just how popular a hashtag (or any phrase) is on Twitter.

Just search for any hashtag you’ve come across on Twitter, and Trendistic will display a graph showing the percentage of tweets out of all tweets that include that hashtag. It also visually shows you when a trend becomes one of the top ten trending topics on Twitter. You can view a hashtag’s past 24 hours, one week, 30 days or more to get a good picture of how popular it has been over time.