At first I thought I was witnessing yet another “member-berries” nostalgia moment—someone dragging me back to the 90s and our inexplicable love of stacking tiny circles of cardboard with printed images on them.
“Are Pogs making a comeback?” I wondered.
No, turns out not (sad, I know). So, I dug in. There are a handful of uses of this expression that I came across, though some are more common than others.
Primarily, we’ll be wading through some weird meme-ry from the heart of Twitch-streaming, but we’ll also go deep to find every use of the term we can find. Here’s the basics:
What is the meaning of Poggers?
Nowadays, “poggers” refers to a specific emoticon available on Twitch which depicts a surprised-looking Pepe the Frog. The word “poggers” is used to express excitement during a game when something exciting occurs.
Nature of Poggers
Let’s get one thing out of the way: Poggers, in its current, Twitch-based incarnation, is a product of the internet.
That means there’s no one official, Oxford English Dictionary definition and no one unified standard of usage.
Ask a dozen people what it means, or how to use it, and it seems you’ll get a dozen answers, each with their own nuance.
So, I’ll be discussing this word based on what I learned and where all the myriad thoughts about the term seem to point.
::best Patrick Bateman impression:: There is an idea of poggers, some kind of abstraction, but there is no real poggers, only an entity, something illusory…
Poggers and the Fam
“Poggers” belongs to a sort of family of words that includes “PogChamp” and “MonkaS.” All three of these are derived from BetterTTV emotes used on Twitch.
I… should probably back up and explain what some of those words mean as well. Let’s go in reverse order.
Twitch is a website where people can live stream from their computers. Basically, someone broadcasts their computer screen and a bunch of people watch.
Originally this was for gaming, but its uses have spread to music, writing, and other sorts of general broadcasts.
Still, it’s primarily focused on gaming, and the world of Twitch gaming is where this article is going to focus.
Alongside the streaming video there is always a chatroom, and here is where the emotes come in…
Emotes are basically just emojis on steroids. Whereas emojis are limited, you can download as many emotes as you like to pepper into your chat text to color things up.
They’re tiny images that can often create a sense of personality or community or simply liven up the discussion.
As mentioned, emotes need to be downloaded, and many require purchase or subscription. This brings us to BetterTTV.
BetterTTV (aka Better Twitch TV aka BTTV) offers a bunch of free services when you download them for your browser.
Included in this are a huge library of emotes, including Poggers and the aforementioned MonkaS.
::best Freud impression:: To understand zee Pogger, vee must first understand its antecedent in zee dual mother-und-father-figure, zee PogChamp…
Searching for information on PogChamp brought me to the Know Your Meme site and a poorly sourced reference page with a slew of comments remarking that it “needs work.”
Glancing around the internet offered little more help. From Twitter to Quora to Reddit—nothing.
Then, finally I click a blue link: Dictionary.com. Finally! A clear explanation.
PogChamp is the O.G. emote in this story, debuting on Twitch in 2012. It features the face of vlogger/streamer Gootecks making a goofy, surprised face.
The emote is used, or the expression “PogChamp” is said, in order to express surprise when someone does something particularly awesome in the gaming stream.
The image itself dates back to November 2010 when, during a stream, Gootecks made the face in response to his camera being knocked into.
The term “PogChamp” would arrive almost a year later on October 26 in another video. In that video, Gootecks offers a MadCatz gaming controller in a promo featuring the old 90s game of Pogs (we’ll return to that later).
At the end, he says, “Pog champions.”
Gooteck’s face spread across the internet, first simply being cut and pasted onto other images—typical meme-style—with “PogChamp” being the term used to refer to it.
This PogChamp meme, for a while, became the face of Team Fortress 2 raffles.
Then, in November 2012, his surprised face got added to Twitch as an emote. Beyond Twitch, PogChamp entered meatspace as an actual spoken expression of excited surprise.
There is some suggestion online that “POG” stands for “Player Of the Game,” and while this may be a term used elsewhere in gaming, I can find no reliable sources that suggest it is directly related to the PogChamp meme.
This seems to be a case of a backronym forming.
Poggers on Patrol
Poggers is an emote which became available on September 24, 2017.
It features a surprised Pepe the Frog and is used in place of Gootecks’s PogChamp to express even more excitement. Like PogChamp, “Poggers” is also a spoken or typed expression.
That’s… that’s basically it.
Wait—who’s Pepe the Frog you ask?
Pepe the Frog: from silly zine to troublesome toad
Pepe the Frog has its origins way back in 2005 in a proto-zine called Playtime by a cartoonist named Matt Furie.
The character grew to popularity in the zine Boy’s Club. However, it didn’t become a meme until 2008, when it was uploaded to “/b/” on 4chan.
If you don’t know what “/b/” and 4chan are, consider yourself blessed and investigate no further. I certainly won’t be elaborating here.
All you need to know is that 4chan is a sort of internet forum focused around pictures.
The image of Pepe saying, “Feels Good Man,” shot to memetic notoriety and took on a life of its own.
Wide variations of Pepe were distributed far and wide. For a long, long time, Pepe was just a simple, harmless meme.
Pepe’s last moments in an uncritical spotlight was in 2014.
One year later, during the United States Presidential election, Pepe would be taken over by far-right voices and his innocence would be lost forever.
Since then, Pepe has gone through many transformations, and can still be seen in some less, er, extreme lights, but overall his image—whatever image he once had—has been tarnished.
While I don’t know if “Poggers” itself has any far-right connotations, it may be wise to take the history of Pepe the Frog into account if you wish to use the “Poggers” meme.
Beyond the Frog: some random uses of pogger
“Poggers” is the name of a Frogger-like game available on Steam. The game features a rabbit named Bun-Bun Poggers who you have to safely move across the screen to safety.
At least two sources suggest “pogger” can be used in a part of Yorkshire in the UK to refer to a run-down sort of person or thing.
“Pogger” also has a military use, coming from the military slang term “POG” which is used to refer to any non-combat military staff.
Nowadays, if you look for what “POG” means in a military context, you’ll be told it comes from “Person Other than Grunt”—but this is a (yet another) backronym.
The origins are a little murky, though most sources point to “pogue” as the original term.
So, where did “pogue” come from? In the early 20th century, the term could refer to a gay man who enjoyed receiving sex from another man.
So, during WWI, “pogue” was used in a derogatory way to refer to other men. That’s one idea of the origin.
A military website suggests that the origin goes back even further and has different connotations entirely.
It is suggested that “pogue” is Gaelic for “kiss,” and that Irish-American Navy sailors would use the term disparagingly to refer to their shore-side comrades who would stay at home and get all the kisses.
One more, less well-sited source suggests that it comes from Korean, referring to female genitals.
However, this origin would almost certainly have come long after the Civil War and First World War, so I’m not likely to consider it accurate.
POGs: revenge of the 90s
The game Pogs, which is also known as “milkcaps,” originated early in the twentieth century in Hawaii.
The term “pog” comes from the brand name of a juice. “POG” juice got its name from an acronym (an actual acronym, for once) referring to its ingredients: Passion fruit, Orange, and Guava.
Using POG-brand caps to play milkcaps was part of the promotion of POG juice.
Even after they switched away from using the milkcaps in their bottles, they continued to produce the caps by themselves for the game.
In the game, each player stacks their pogs face down. The opposing player uses a heavier disc known as a “slammer” to toss at the stack of pogs.
Whichever pogs land face up after the collision, the person who threw the slammer gets to keep. When no more pogs remain in the stacks, the person with the most pogs wins.
This game grew to enormous popularity in the 90s (I should know—I had a metric ton of pogs). One term for referring to those who play pogs? You guessed it: Pogger.
”Poggers” in summation
Nowadays, if you say “Poggers,” a small collection of Twitch-streaming gamers will know you mean “That’s awesome!”
Outside of that small circle, you’ll probably get met with some weird stares.
Plus, the Pepe connection doesn’t help things much. So, with that in mind, go forth and ::excellent Bill & Ted impression:: “Pogger on!”
Why is MonkaS called MonkaS?
MonkaS is another Pepe the Frog derived Twitch emote. In this one, Pepe is nervous and sweating and is used to indicate that someone is very nervous. The name MonkaS comes from a Twitch user by the name of MonkaSenpai—a subscriber of streamer Nymn—who used that image of Pepe as their personal emote. The emote spread to a bunch more Hearthstone players and on-wards from there. The name “MonkaS” just sorta stuck. Nowadays, emotes that use Pepe often append “Monka” to the name (e.g. in variations such as monkaX, monkaHmm, and monkaShake) instead of “Pepe.”
What does UWU mean?
It’s another sort of smiley face. It’s a representation of an anime-style character’s peaceful and happy expression. It shows cuteness and joy.
What does F in the chat mean?
It’s a way for people to pay their respects. This can be used either seriously (in the case of a real death) or ironically (in the case of player in-game death).
What does LMAO mean?
Cover you kids’ eyes! It means “Laughing My Ass Off”!
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.