Anyone feel like they’re talking to a martian when they try to chat with someone from Gen Z? We might be what Iliza Shlesinger would refer to as “elder millennials.” That means there’s barely a generation between us — but that’s just not enough to bridge the disconnect. Gen Zers are our cousins, nieces, siblings, and sometimes our kids. Let’s be real, though: It’s like they speak a different language.
To start, it’s important to know that all cultures, including that of each generation, have their own colloquialisms. Like how our parents said “groovy.” Or when we spent a summer keeping our brows “on fleek.” That unique language is a necessary part of creating a culture. The line of delineation between who “gets it” and who doesn’t understand helps weed out the people who don’t necessarily belong.
So, it’s understandable if you’re feeling lost with how young people are communicating today. When you hear the word “receipts,” do you think of digging through your purse to find your literal receipts? There are so many new slang words out there today that it’s hard to keep track of what they are and their meaning. To help you navigate through the murky waters of post-millennial slang words and what they mean, we’ve compiled this handy list to help you sound cooler and way less basic.
Most Common Slang Words Used Everyday
- Beat: Used as an adjective or verb when it comes to beauty and/or makeup.
Example: “I have a date tonight, so I’m going to beat my face.”
- Bet: This means definitely or absolutely.
Example: “All set homie?” “Bet.”
- Big Mad: The person is very angry or annoyed.
Example: “I didn’t shout him out, so he was big mad.”
- Brick: When it is below 40 degrees outside, this is considered “brick” weather.
Example: “It’s brick outside today, I’m going to have to put on my thermals.”
- Bye, Felicia: Used when you’re tired of someone and dismiss them. It comes from the 1995 movie Friday in which Ice Cube says, “Bye, Felicia!” to a woman who’s bothering his friend.
Example: “That’s it. I’m done putting up with you. I’m so over this. Bye Felicia.”
- Cake: This is a very body-positive term that refers to someone with a big butt in a positive way.
Example: “Damn, look at the cake on that girl!”
- Clapback: Responding to criticism akin to a comeback.
Example: “After he insulted her, you should have heard the clapback! It was harsh.”
- Clock: This means to call out someone pretty harshly, including insulting someone.
Example: “I clocked her for saying that!”
- Deadass: This means the person is incredibly serious about the topic or situation they are speaking about.
Example: “I deadass need some new shoes. My old ones have a hole in them.”
- Flex: Showing off your lavish lifestyle or valuables in a non-humble way.
- Fronting: Acting like someone you are not or less than. This is when someone pretends to have more than they do to impress others.
- Full send: When you go “all in” and not care about the consequences, no matter what.
- High Key: Describing something loudly and proudly. The opposite of “low key” (which is also the down-low).
- Ghosting: When someone disappears from your life, typically in a dating relationship, without any communication or contact.
- Grill: Staring at someone in a negative way. It also means looking at someone judgementally for a long time.
- Guap: Money or assets that contribute to your wealth or status.
- Hundo P: The short form of “100 percent.” Use it when you agree with something whole-heartedly.
- Kiki: Used to describe a fun party with good friends and vibes. It can also describe a gathering where you’ll gather with friends and unload gossip (aka spill the tea).
- No Cap: This is used to reiterate you’re not lying or exaggerating about something you said.
Example: “That food was delicious, no cap.”
- Rain Check: When you cancel plans with someone at the last minute.
Example: “My friend keeps rain checking me.”
- Snatched: Referring to looking good, fashionable, and extremely fierce.
Example: “That dress looks snatched!”
- Sus: Derived from the word ‘suspicious.’ Usually reserved for someone who’s being quiet or acting a little shady.
- Swerve: This typically means to avoid something, usually an unwanted situation or confrontation.
- Tea: Exchanging hot gossip. You can get it, spill it, and give it.
- Tight: This means very annoyed or upset.
- Whip: A car.
- Wig: Use this when something crazy and exciting has just happened, whether or not you’re actually wearing a wig.
Example: “I just got tickets to Billie Eilish.” “Omg, wig!”
Gen Z Slang with Examples
Check out our list below for a full look at the slang Gen Z is using, what it means, and where a lot of it came from.
- AF: “As fuck.” It’s used, in essence, to underline or exaggerate something.
Example: “This kid will not go to sleep, and I’m tired AF.”
- A Whole Meal: Used to describe someone who looks very good or is dressed very well.
Example: “On the day of her wedding, the bride looked like a whole meal.”
- Bae: Literally translates to, “Before Anyone Else.” This could be your boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other/kid. Really, anything or anyone you love most.
Example: “The doctor told me to cut back on dairy if I wanted to feel better, and I laughed. Cheese is bae.”
- Basic: Basic is a way of saying someone or something is overdone or like everyone else. If it’s basic, it’s mainstream.
Example: “Look at me looking all basic with my PSL, Uggs, and messy bun!”
- Bop/Banger: An adjective for a song that is very good.
Example: “That new Cardi B song is a bop!”
- Boujee: If you’re boujee, you’re someone who likes fancy or expensive things. You also probably like talking about it. Boujee and basic can go hand-in-hand.
Example: “We all love Range Rovers, but getting the classic white is boujee AF. Have some personality, please.”
- Damn, Gina: It’s used in response to a pleasant surprise or as a show of being impressed. A lot of slang is taken from Black culture, and this is a great example. “Damn, Gina” was a phrase used often on the ’90s sitcom, Martin.
Example: “You meal-prepped how many days’ worth of meals? Damn, Gina! I’m over here just ordering pizza twice a week.”
- Dank: High quality.
Example: “I’m bored, y’all. Send me your dank memes.”
- Dead/dying/deceased: It means you found something fantastically funny. The joke “slayed” you and you died laughing, so now you’re dead.
Example: “Have you seen all the Twisted Tea memes? I’m deceased.”
- Extra: A person who is extra often does, says, feels, or wears “too much.” Whatever their personality or interests are, they go full-steam ahead. There’s a new line of “extra” Barbies that come with wild clothes and accessories, including a pink fur coat.
Example: “She didn’t just want to wear her princess dress to the grocery. She wanted her tiara and cowboy boots, too. Y’all. My toddler is extra.”
- Fam: This means family, but also close friends.
Example: “What up, Fam?!”
- Glow Up: This refers to a makeover. It can also describe someone who was once awkward or less attractive, who grew up into someone cool or hot.
Example: “Have y’all seen the actor who played Neville from Harry Potter? Total glow up. He’s hot now.”
- GOAT: It’s an acronym, but people basically just say “goat.” It means “greatest of all time.”
Example: “Everyone says LeBron James is the GOAT.”
- Gucci: Synonymous with good.
Example: “He thinks he broke my heart, but my new dude is so much better. I’m Gucci, guys!”
- Keep it 100: Check out Drake’s lyrics for a good look at the history of this phrase. It means to be authentic.
Example: “Don’t put on a brave face for me. Keep it 100.”
- Left on read: When someone reads your text but doesn’t reply. Originates from iPhone’s read receipts. Also can be used as just “read.”
Example: “I poured my heart out to him via text last night and he left me on read.”
- Lit: Awesome. (Typically it no longer means drunk.)
Example: “Mom’s night out at Chuy’s toniiiiight! It’s gonna be lit!”
- Mood: Relatable. Usually paired with a meme, GIF, or picture.
Example: “My kid just threw their shoes across the room because we’re out of ice cream. Mood.”
- Ratchet: This means rude or trashy and otherwise gross and unfavorable.
Example: “I showed up at the PTA meeting in three-day-old hair and Christmas pajamas and then dropped the f-bomb when they told me it was my turn to run pickups and drop-offs this month. It was my most ratchet moment this week.”
- Receipts: Not the literal ones. These refer to screenshots of text messages or Snapchats. You can collect these and show them in response to prove your point, especially if someone has denied they said or did something.
Example: “She said she told the mom’s group they needed to stop being so mean to each other, but she’s pretty timid. I said, ‘Receipts, please!'”
- Salty: Not good. Probably bitter.
Example: “She’s salty with me for not bringing her Starbucks.”
- Savage: To be fierce and unapologetic.
Example: “I’m a savage. Classy. Boujee. Ratchet. Sassy. Moody. Nasty.” (Us, singing Megan Thee Stallion.)
- Shade: Describe suspicious or disrespectful behavior.
Example: “He’s been giving me dirty looks and throwing shade since I told his wife that she could do better. Admittedly, that was shady on my part.”
- Shook: To be surprised — good or bad.
Example: “I thought they were the perfect couple, but apparently he cheated. I am shook.”
- Serve: To deliver on anything. While you can easily tell it’s loosely related to the idea of “serving papers,” its use in nonlegal exchanges comes from ball culture.
Example: “I showed up on my coffee date serving major hottie vibes. I wore that LBD.”
- Slaps: Hits right or makes you feel something.
Example: “The new song from The Weeknd slaps, man.”
- Slay: To kill something — in a good way.
Example: “Jimmy Choos, LBD, and a blowout? Mama came to slay.”
- Skrt: Like a record scratching. It means to stop.
Example: “Skrrrrt! This hormonal teenager just called me a boomer. We must exact revenge.”
- Snack: A snack is someone so attractive that you’d like to take a bite out of them.
Example: “Can we all agree that Oscar Isaac is a snack, please? His wife is so lucky.”
- Stan: It means being a huge fan of something. It may originate from Eminem’s 2000 song “Stan,” which follows the letters of an obsessive fan named Stan.
Example: “My boss keeps calling me. What a Stan.”
- Take several seats: When “sit down and shut up” just doesn’t cut it.
Example: Taylor Swift said it best with, “You just need to take several seats and then try to restore the peace/And control your urges to scream about all the people you hate.”
- TBH: To Be Honest.
Example: “TBH, I think if you don’t like Taylor Swift it’s just because you’re judging her romantic life or politics.”
- Tea: Spill the tea. Gossip.
Example: “How was your date? Sit down and spill the tea!”
- Thirsty: Thirsty means desperate, typically for love or attention.
Example: “Yoooo. Did you see that poolside pic of Martha Stewart? She’s a babe for sure, but she looked a little thirsty.”
- Turnt/turnt up: If you’re getting turnt, it means you feel very wild or excited.
Example: “The baby just bounced off the TV stand and onto the floor while dancing. She’s getting turnt up.”
- Woke: To be aware of and vocal about political and social issues.
Example: Congresswoman Barbara Lee used it in 2017 when she said, “We have a moral obligation to ‘stay woke,’ take a stand and be active.”
- Yas: Yes, basically. But much more enthusiastic.
Example: “Yaaaaaas, boo! Keep dancing!”
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