Feeling lost with Gen Z slang? OK boomer, here are the basics

Instead of scratching your head over some of the vernacular coming out of teens’ mouths, parents may want to get informed, learn the meaning, but never ever use it.

Each new generation comes with its own special language; phrases and words that only the young and hip know about and are comfortable using. 

Right, Daddy-o? (1960s) 

I can dig it. (1970s) 

It’s bodacious. (1980s) 

Word. (1990s)

Don’t be a newbie. (2000s)

But now, slang is spreading far and wide in the blink of an eye thanks to the instantaneous viral machine that is social media. With the insane popularity of TikTok — it celebrated one billion monthly users in 2021 — Gen Z learns the latest words and phrases immediately. This slang doesn’t have to wait to spread through word of mouth, a newspaper or even a television show. Zoomers born in the late ’90s and early 2000s have access through their phones and the viral videos of TikTok. A recent study by Forrester found TikTok is so popular among that age group that 63% of 12-to-17-year olds say they use it every week. That usage beats out Snapchat and Instagram, with only YouTube having stronger numbers.

TikTok usage surpasses Instagram among youth ages 12 to 17

While parents shouldn’t necessarily try and use Gen Z’s lingo, it is important to be aware of meanings. When I asked my 15-year-old and his friends whether they like parents and teachers to use their slang, I got emphatic “No’s” and “Ew’s” from all of them. But being informed about their language can help parents understand kids’ communication and can lead to better, more in-depth conversations. It is also vital to be aware of some slang that could be warning signs for inappropriate behavior or bullying.

Here are some of the most popular Gen Z words making the rounds right now (and that I’ve heard coming out of teens’ mouths in my own home) with definitions from dictionary.comUrban Dictionary and USA Today.

Bet — a term of affirmation, agreement or approval. Want to grab some food? Bet!

Bussin’ — really good. The new Drake song is bussin’.

Cheugy — pronounced CHOO-ghee. Something that is uncool and outdated. Facebook is so cheugy.

No Cap — confirming you aren’t lying. Are you really going to ask her out? No cap?

Drip — very fashionable style. Zendaya’s drip is amazing.

Simp — someone desperate to gain others’ approval, often used in a sexist way to describe a man who is overly submissive to women. Ben is such a simp for buying Vanessa so much stuff.

Skrt — an onomatopoeia of the sound tires make when you leave in a hurry. An expression of excitement. I just aced that test. skrt!

Slaps — word describing something you appreciate. His new ride slaps.

Stan — amalgam of “stalker” and “fan” meaning an obsessive fan. She loves Harry Styles. She’s such a stan.

Sus — short for suspicious. Why is that guy staring at us? He looks sus.

Meet Generation Z. They're kind of like millennials, but here's where they're different

People are definitely curious about this new lingo Zoomers are using. Website I’m A Puzzle analyzed Google queries to find out the most searched Gen Z slang. Simp came out on top with no cap, sus and bussin’ also in the top 1-. Woke was No. 2. I was surprised by this as it’s is a term I thought most people already understood, but obviously many are searching for its meaning. Woke means to be well-informed and sensitive to cultural issues. The other most searched terms in the top 10 are either acronyms or refer to social media. 

FYP — abbreviation for “For You Page” which is part of TikTok.

GOAT — acronym for “greatest of all time.”

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Ratio — when replies to a tweet vastly outnumber likes or retweets.

FOMO — acronym for “fear of missing out.”

IYKYK — acronym for “if you know you know.”

Feeling like you have a handle on these Gen Z slang terms now? You can test your knowledge with a quick quiz on dictionary.com. Or you can always try using one of the words on your teenager. But don’t be surprised if they tell you how cheugy you are in reply.

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