The Interpreter: A 20-Something to 40-Something Dictionary

by Jennifer Li Shotz
Originally Published: 

The cultural divide among generations is narrower than ever, but sometimes people 20 years apart still seem to be speaking different languages. Perhaps the biggest gap remains between those in their 20s and those in their 40s. Here’s a handy translation guide to help you bridge the language barrier—whichever side you may fall on (you lucky spring chicken, you!).

25-year-old: Dude, I can’t eat those spicy wings. I’ll have serious garlic breath, and I’m going out tonight.


45-year-old: Dude, I can’t eat those spicy wings. They’ll really fire up my reflux.

25: So, did you hook up with that hot chick?

45: So, did you get the 30-year-fixed-rate jumbo loan?

25: Did he take you somewhere romantic for dinner?

45: Did you eat at the dinner table instead of the coffee table?

25: My roommate is such a slob. She leaves her clothes everywhere.

45: Honey, where are my pants?

25: I’m so tired. I didn’t go to bed until 4 a.m.

45: I’m so tired. I woke up at 4 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep.


25: I can’t believe they make me put 6 percent of my income into a stupid 401(k). I won’t need it for, like, a hundred years.

45: I can’t believe I only contributed 6 percent of my income all these years. What was I thinking? We’ll never survive on this.

25: My boss is so lame.

45: My boss is so young.

Cover photo: Herr Hans Gruber/blogumentary/Cafe

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