Not safe for work

Not safe for work or NSFW is an Internet slang or shorthand tag used in emails and interactive discussion areas (such as on Internet forums, blogs, and community websites) to mark URLs and hyperlinks which link to videos and other pages containing nudity, intense sexuality, profanity, violence, gore and/or other potentially disturbing subject matter, which the viewer may not wish to be seen looking at in a public or formal environment, including a workplace or school.

Determining a site to be NSFW is invariably subjective, and poses challenges for academics who study sexuality.[1] The difficulty in identifying such content objectively has led to the creation of online tools to help individuals to identify NSFW content.

NSFW has particular relevance for individuals attempting to make personal use of the Internet at workplaces or schools which have policies prohibiting (even inadvertent) access to sexually provocative and graphic subject matter.

On November 28, 2007, founder Drew Curtis filed an application[2] to trademark the phrase, but the application was abandoned.[3]

Conversely, the term Safe For Work, sometimes abbreviated to SFW, is used to label material that may have a questionable title or include subjects that could be NSFW, but are not.

Not safe for life

In an allusion to the established use of the term on the Internet, Not safe for life (NSFL) generally refers to subject matter that might not be in the interest of a person to view regardless of location and potential coviewers for being horrifying, disgusting, offensive, or even mentally disturbing to the viewer themselves. Usually it refers to depictions of real graphic violence ("gore").[4] Many content-aggregator sites including Reddit, video-platforms such as LiveLeak and imageboards such as 4chan have their own subsites which are dedicated to or allow such content – often with the requirement that such material be marked as such which is often done via a NSFL tag.


  1. Attwood, Feona; I. Q. Hunter (October 2009). "Not safe for work? Teaching and researching the sexually explicit". Sexualities. 12 (5): 547557. doi:10.1177/1363460709340366.
  2. Wortham, Jenna (December 10, 2007). "Fark 'NSFW' Trademark Bid All in Good Snark?". Archived from the original on 2009-11-11. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
  3. Notice of Abandonment, US serial number 77338491. USPTO, May 29, 2009.
  4. Minsky, Amy (16 October 2014). "Luka Magnotta's gore video: Why is the court seeing it?". Retrieved 28 March 2015.
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