What Does “No Cap” Mean?

If you’ve been anywhere on the internet in the past years, you’ve 100% seen a video of some teenager finish telling a story in their car, taking a sip of McDonald’s Sprite, and then signing off with the words “no cap”.

Which like…great story dude, but what? Not to age us all here, but nobody over the age of 25 knows what “no cap” means. But have no fear, I am here to hold your hand as we embark into the depths of TikTok and explain to you just what this fresh linguistic hell means.

The Ancient History Of 1900s

Before we get into modern times (post-covid haze when we all got sucked into TikTok just to feel something) when the term actually blew up, we have to go way way way back to the last century when the term originated.

emoji of prohibited sign and baseball cap on white background

No they weren’t walking around saying “Old sport, no cap”, but they were saying it in some respect back in the 40s.

1940s Was The Beginning Of The “No Limit” Aspirational Bros

The oracle, Dictionary.com says that to “cap” something is to surpass a limit on its potential. This kind of use originated in the 40s and 60s and clearly referred to cap being “top” or “upper limit.”

Two men pose with two sharks caught near Belmar, New Jersey circa 1940, as pedestrians look on. (Photo by International Game Fish Association via Getty Images)
Photo Credit: IGFA / Contributor / Getty
Photo Credit: IGFA / Contributor / Getty

So yes, as hilarious as it is to imagine an old-timey version of the hustle bro in suspenders in sepia saying “cap”, it is technically entirely possible.

Like All Good Things, Future & Young Thug Wrote A Song About It

“No cap” as it means in modern times, comes from the Atlanta hip-hop scene.

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 24: Rappers Future and Young Thug attend Gunna
Photo by Prince Williams/Wireimage
Photo by Prince Williams/Wireimage

Proof of this, is that Atlanta rappers Future and Young Thug released the track “No Cap” in 2017. In the song, Young Thug says “Yellow diamonds like banana, that’s cap”. Yellow diamonds are super sought after and can price up to several million dollars. Here he’s bragging about owning these very yellow diamonds.

It Blew Up On Tiktok After

We can assume people in the Altanta area hip-hop scene were using the term before the song was released in 2017, but afterwards the term really blew up on TikTok.

tiktok views on young boy never broke again video
Photo Credit: TikTok
Photo Credit: TikTok

People found the song “No Mentions” by YoungBoy Never Broke Again and lip synced to the audio. In the song he says his, “Heart cold as a [sic], no cap, yeah”. Currently, there’s 21.3K videos on the platform using the sound.

So What Does It All Mean?

Far from the “limit” meaning of cap, “no cap” means that someone is telling the truth. It’s like starting a sentence with “honestly”.

Usually people use it to assure others that their bragging or unbelievable story-telling is all truthful. So if you said “no cap” after telling coworkers at the water cooler you like 10% creamer in your coffee, that would be a misuse. I mean, you could do it. But it wouldn’t earn you cool points for sure.

Okay Class, Let’s Practice

Let’s practice so we’re all on the same page. If you wanted to brag about finally getting your dream home, you’d say “Just closed the deal on a gorgeous 3-bedroom bungalow, no cap”.

Here this girl is saying her makeup is great. Which, obviously it is. No cap.