An insulting or suggestive Twitter post that indirectly mentions another Twitter user, thus reducing the chance that the other person will see the message. Also: sub-tweet. —v.
Much ink and many, many snide subtweets have been spilled over the question of whether Obamacare’s expansion of health insurance will actually generate health gains.
—Olga Khazan, “One Simple Trick to Live Longer,” The Atlantic, May 6, 2014
The four ex-chiefs of staff—Nick Kouvalis, Amir Remtulla, Earl Provost, and Mark Towhey—were all key architects of Ford’s early success as mayor. All of them now have other jobs, and Towhey spends his days mocking his former boss with witty subtweets.
—Steve Kupferman, “Will Doug Ford actually run for MPP? And what happens if he does?,” Toronto Life, January 27, 2014
Yoshi got in that ass #subtweet
—JOnes, “Yoshi got in...,” Twitter, November 12, 2009
On Twitter, if you include another user’s account name, preceded by @, that person automatically sees your message (this is called a mention). A subtweet leaves out the “@” (or uses the person’s real name, if it’s different from their account name), so the other user doesn’t automatically see the message.
The earliest use of the word subtweet that I could find occurs in this tweet from April 30, 2009:
However, it’s hard to see how this is a subtweet in the sense I’m using here. Many similar non-obvious uses of the #subtweet hashtag follow this one, but the earliest citation is the first that I could find that mentions someone by name, and so might be an actual subtweet.