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First World problem

The term First World problem was first coined in the late 1970s, but it was popularized by an internet meme in the early 2000s. We will examine the meaning of the phrase First World problem, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A First World problem is an inconsequential frustration, an unimportant annoyance that is blown out of proportion due to the sufferer’s lack of real and important problems. An example of a First World problem is a smart phone that only receives wi-fi on the first floor of one’s home and not in the basement. When compared to the desperate problems of war and hunger in poorer nations, a First World problem is very trivial indeed. While the term First World problem was first used in the book Built Environment by G.K. Payne, published in 1979, the term came into popular usage with an internet meme created in 2005, which spread through Tumblr posts and Twitter posts. Today, the term First World problem is used when chastising someone complaining about a trivial problem, or often, when the complainer uses it to acknowledge that triviality of his problem. Note that the Oxford English Dictionary capitalizes the first two words of the phrase, as in First World problem, it is often seen hyphenated and using lowercase letters, as in first-world problem.

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Examples

She also acknowledges that she is privileged to have access to a breast pump in the first place, calling her frustrations with pumping a “first world problem.” (The Huffington Post)

First world problem: Ricki-Lee Coulter was recently the victim of a wayward champagne cork that hit her in the right eye. (The Sydney Morning Herald)

I understand that this is a very first-world problem, one that’s wedged somewhere between “I’m too pretty” and “I have a gift card and can’t decide where to spend it,” and I’m sorry about that. (Glamour Magazine)

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