For those out of the know, rickrolling or rick-rolling is an Internet bait-and-switch phenomenon involving a disguised hyperlink that leads to a location other than what is implied. Nine cases out of ten, the rickroll will take you to a YouTube video of Rick Astley's song Never Gonna Give You Up, which is where the meme gets the first part of its name, Rick, from. It's named after the singer, simple as that. But what does rolling have to do with any of it? Well, Never Gonna Give You Up wasn't exactly the first of its kind, it was just the most popular. The first false hyperlink prank was back in 2005 on 4chan, where it became a fad to replace the word "eggroll" with "duckroll" for some reason. Combining the two memes into one word makes a lot of sense, so that's exactly what one anonymous 4chan user did when he first coined rickroll in 2007. Usage of the word peaked in April 2008, as Astley went viral, and by now has stabilized as rickroll has entered our vocabulary as a word not unlike any other.
Adam Aleksic, an incoming freshman at Harvard University, has been described as the internet's sixth most famous etymologist. He has disturbing interests in linguistics, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law, and he loves writing about himself in the third person.
The Etymology Nerd