After seeing this phrase all over Twitch, Twitter and seemingly every other gaming focused YouTube video, we thought answering the "what does KEKW mean?" question may help a few of you out there. As one of the most popular Twitch emotes, KEKW is one of the most important emoticons to understand if you want to get your meme game right.
Just like “lol” – laughing out loud –, “kek” is a chat phrase which indicates laughter, one which originated from Korea. Like Russians’ xaxaxaxaxa, “kek” is basically the Korean way to show they’re laughing in the chat. The phrase bled through Starcraft and World of Warcraft (which is why it’s sometimes referred to as “lol in Orcish”.)
Twitch emotes with the -W suffix often convey an exaggerated facial expression by the streamer or individual in question, and the KEKW emote is a recently popularized way to convey laughter or hilarity in the chat.
The KEKW emote is a FrankerFaceZ extension Twitch emote which is a cut-out of the face of Juan Joya Borja, a Spanish comedian and actor who’s also known as the Spanish Laughing Guy in internet circles. A popular YouTube video from a 2007 interview where Borja bursts into laughter while trying to tell an anecdote was turned into multiple memes.
In late summer 2019, the KEKW custom emote featuring a still image of Borja’s face became popular on Twitch after being picked up by “meme streamers” like xQc and AdmiralBulldog. From then on, the emote’s popularity skyrocketed, and it has pretty much replaced LUL and other popular alternatives as the way to signify (hysterical) laughter in Twitch chat.