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Not Safe for Work

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A common internet warning, abbreviated as NSFW, usually denoting a picture or video that you wouldn't want to show up when you are surfing the web at work. It's one thing to look up the latest news, check your email or play Solitaire. It's another to be looking at porn. Anything with nudity or partial nudity in it at all will often be labelled thus, on the off chance that a passing observer simply thinks you might be looking at porn.

So called because if you are caught reading these pages while at work, you can get in a LOT of trouble. For the more graphic NSFW pages, simply having them in the hard drive or cache of a work computer can get you fired. Even showing up in the server log files could be unhealthy.

Also applies to school, of course. Usually, even being caught visiting casual sites like YouTube, Facebook, or Dailybooth can get you in pretty big trouble there; being caught looking at anything deemed "pornographic" can result in suspension of technology access, a trip to the (vice)note  principal's office, detention, suspension, or even expulsion. When it comes to school, anything crude or distracting from the educational experience (though the latter may be relaxed during breaks and lunch) qualifies for this trope, in addition to the above.

Also particularly helpful to parents who are at home - some people do have small children and still find time to netsurf. These same people like to have a warning to wait until the children are in another room before clicking a link.

NSFW can be applied to vulgar, violent, crude pornographic content. Also applied as a near-synonym for Squick. It may also be applied if the link requires sound, as not everyone has headphones at work (or should be wearing headphones, depending on the job).

It does NOT stand for "Now Show to Friends and co-Workers," no matter what the local troll may say.

Incidentally, get back to work before your Pointy-Haired Boss notices you slacking off by browsing this site!

See also, No Lewdness, No Prudishness for how this site handles the issue.

Contrast Perfectly Safe For Work. Not to be confused with places that aren't safe to work in.

This phrase can take many forms:

  • NWS: Not Work Safe.
  • NBS: Not Brain Safe.
  • NSS: Not Sanity Safe.
  • NSFS: Not Safe For the Soul/Sanity.
    • Either of these can be said of something that's technically work-safe but completely insane.
    • Alternately, Not Safe For School.
  • NSFH: Not Safe For Humanity.
  • NSFWSOAYCGIT: Not Safe for Work, School, or Anywhere You Can Get in Trouble.
  • NSFP: Not Safe For Parents.
  • NSFK/NSFM: Not Safe for Kids, or Not Safe for Minors.
  • NSFBS/NFBSK: Not Safe For British Schoolchildren/Not For British School Kids.
    • uses this phrase to denote its sex-related entries.
  • Bikini or speedo pics are often flagged as "Mildly NSFW", since they aren't outright porn, but it would still look like you are slacking off if the boss sees them.
  • NFYOSS: Not Fourteen-Year-Old Sister Safe — for anything you wouldn't want the hypothetical sister to see. Mostly used on the User Friendly Message Board, but sometimes seen elsewhere.
  • NSFW: Not Safe For Wife, as many married men know.
    • The Lancashire Hotpots song "Esc, Alt+F4" references this.
  • NSFA: Not Safe For Anyone/Anywhere/Anything.
  • NSFE: Not Safe For Ears. Also known as NSFH (Not Safe For Hearing). Look for this in comments under videos if you suspect them to be Screamer Pranks.
  • NSFL: Not Safe For Life - indicates content that is, to one extent or another, nauseating or traumatizing. Recommended for: Shock Sites and the bad kind of medical documentation. More popular than NSFA. Alternatively, Not Safe for Lunch.
  • NSF56K: Not Safe For 56K, though this is a different matter regarding content that will take forever on a slow connection.
    • 56K Warning and similar messages mean the same thing.
      • Is the page (or website) known for containing a lot of images? Assume it's a 56K Warning.
  • NSFRW: Not Safe For Republican Work (or just the far right ones, moderate ones likely wouldn't care).
  • NSFW: Now Show Friends and Workmates.
    • NSFW: Now Show Family and Workmates.
  • xkcd used to have Warning: this comic occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)., but it was changed following the popularity of Earth Temperature Timeline. Now it's replaced with a non-sensical parody of viewing recommendations printed in a tiny font.
  • Does your URL include "chan" or "booru"? There's material somewhere on those servers that qualifies, guaranteednote .
  • Not quite on topic, but George MacDonald Fraser's novel The Pyrates mentions a three-tier rating system upper class British girls had for upper class British boys (apparently referring to danger to one's virginity) that included, in ascending order of peril, Not Safe At Vauxhall, Not Safe In Sedan Chairs and Not Safe Anywhere.
    • There is still a tiered rating system in this era.
  • Author Susie Bright suggests NSFP: Not Safe for Prudes.
  • SFW: Safe For Work. Generally used to inform the web user who may be wary about clicking on a link that it is safe.
    • The website "How F*cked is the T?", which uses live data to determine average subway wait time, has a "SFW version" called "How's the T?", where descriptions such as "The Red Line isn't very f*cked" are changed to "The Red Line looks just fine".
  • NSFG: Not Safe For Google.
  • sNSFW: So not safe for work.
  • This trope dates back to at least 1594. The English translation of Examen de Ingenios, The Examination of mens Wits, a book on physiology and psychology, has a warning opposite a section on procreation that "This is no chapter for maids to read in sight of others."
  • TSFW: Technically Safe For Work. Similar to "Mildly NSFW" in that while no naughty bits are visible, the image is clearly erotic.
  • Not Safe For Wallet
  • Not Safe For Woona
  • Trigger Warning: For content that may or may not be sexual in nature, but can be disturbing to certain people, and can potentially set off Flashbacks or relapses.
    • Content Warning/CW - [Offending Content Descriptor]: For more specific descriptions of the content that might be considered disturbing or cause the above to certain people. Also used in cases where the phrase "Trigger Warning" might be seen as too loaded a term.

NSFW In Fiction

  • Filth, in general
  • Farm Sluts, which is about a man whose life is ruined by looking up extreme pornography at work.
  • This trope gets a name-drop in Grand Theft Auto V during the mission "Friend Request", where Michael has to do a pop-up clicking minigame for Rickie Luckens because he got a virus after clicking a "totally NSFW link".
  • Curtailed does occasionally descend into NSFW status. For instance, this sketchbook entry, which features, among other things, a disconnected fire alarm and spilled marbles on the floor.
  • In Injustice 2, a possible opening battle dialog between Injustice!Batman and Injustice!Harley is that the latter had a NSFW dream with the Joker.
  • Inverted by a book giving children various tips and "cheats" to get through school (memorization aids, easy arithmetic tricks, etc.): the front cover included a flash saying "WARNING: this book is not suitable for adults".
  • The Zootopia DeviantArt fancomic Savage Company has a page where Da Chief reads Nick's search history aloud. It starts off innocuous enough, but then degenerates into NSFW searches.
  • This Sonic The Hedgehog NSFW fanart of Tails and Cosmo. It's just Cosmo pushing a rolling chair Tails is standing up in. Literally not safe for work!
  • In the Discworld and The Big Bang Theory crossover The Many Worlds Interpretation, a quirk of quantum physics note  allows the Caltech gang to bring the Internet and laptop computers to Unseen University in Ankh-Morpork. Of course, the Senior Wrangler, one of the older Wizards on the university faculty, discovers the Internet's primary use - lots and lots of artistic pictures of scantily dressed young ladies who may or may not be posing with the obligatory urns and lengths of flimsy gauze. Arch-Chancellor Ridcully looks over his shoulder and decides this sort of thing is Not Safe For Wizards.

Alternative Title(s): NSFW, Safe For Work, Work Safe