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What is a ‘thirst trap’?

You know those social media posts that make your comment section blow up with people saying things like “you’re so hot,” “🔥🔥🔥” and “OKKKK”? Those are thirst traps.

A thirst trap, in the most formal of definitions, is a sexy or flirty photo meant to elicit a viewer’s attention. If you’re still confused, breaking down the phrase can be helpful ⁠— you’re trying to trap someone into admitting their thirst (AKA attraction) for you.

Influencers and celebrities do it all the time to impress their millions of followers, but anyone can do it if they want to impress a certain someone. And hey, no judgement here.

The term ‘thirst trap’ first emerged on Twitter and Urban Dictionary in 2011, around the same time as the rise of Snapchat, Instagram and online dating apps such as Tinder.

In 2018, the term was reported to have entered common usage, and media sources including The New York Times and GQ have started using the expression without definition.

According to Urban Dictionary, which is famous for its modern definitions of slang terms, a thirst trap is “a sexy photograph or flirty message posted on social media for the intent of causing others to publicly profess their attraction.”

The definition continues: “This is done not to actually respond or satisfy any of this attraction, but to feed the posters ego or need for attention, at the expense of the time, reputation and sexual frustration of those who view the image or reply.”

A thirst trap is clearly posted or sent for the attention and admiration of an audience, but it is often done coyly enough that it lands on the side of flirty rather than explicit.

A good example of a celebrity who frequently posts thirst traps is Mr. Zac Efron himself.

This artful thirst trap posted by Zac clearly shows off his ripped figure (abs, arms, chest, all that good stuff).

The Baywatch actor is famous for being a Hollywood heartthrob and shows off his lean, muscular physique a lot on social media (but hey, we’re not complaining).

Zac often shares his workout routines and shirtless travel adventures, which, of course, fans love.

Here’s another thirst trap by Zac:

The High School Musical star obviously knows what he’s doing when it comes to the classic thirst trap.

But thirst traps can take many forms — they don’t always have to show off a person’s body or appealing physique. Thirst traps can be selfies or any photo of you that you feel good about.

You might put on the perfect outfit and give your makeup look the extra oomph. Or you might post a photo of you fresh off the beach with an au naturale, “effortlessly hot” look like Hailey Bieber:

But most importantly, a thirst trap is all about being confident. Be confident in your outfit, in your body, and in your self. Because we all know that there’s nothing hotter than being your authentic self.

Lizzo is a perfect example of a celebrity who fully embodies this mantra and who is her own biggest hype woman.

The Good As Hell singer is always unapologetically confident about her image, which is the most important quality to have when posting thirst traps.


As we said before, a thirst trap is subjective — it’s whatever photo you feel best in.

It doesn’t have to be a bikini post on the beach or a sexy selfie, it can just be a cute photo of you in the car or an OOTD post. It’s up to you.

And while we all love seeing “🔥”, “💯” and “😍” emojis comments under our thirst traps, remember true confidence comes from loving yourself, not from seeking validation from others.


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