21 slang words teens and Gen Zers are using in 2020, and what they mean

Kaspars Grinvalds/ShutterstockThese are the terms and slang words Gen Zers can’t stop using.
  • Teens and members of Gen Z are now using a slew of new slang terms, many of which are confusing to older generations.
  • If you’ve ever wondered what terms like “periodt,” “snatched,” or “big yikes” mean – then this guide is for you.
  • Here’s a list of 21 popular terms and the correct way to use each of them.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories .

In a world dominated by meme culture, ever-changing social media platforms, and the ability to cram your thoughts into a 280-character tweet, your grasp of basic slang can make or break your credibility as a functional and supposedly cool human.

Scroll through the comments of any Gen Z influencer’s Instagram feed, and you may feel completely out of the loop on what the world is talking about.

Though many of these terms have been around for decades, oftentimes derived from the language of black and queer communities, online spaces have made the spread, appropriation, and evolution of language more rapid than ever before.

Whether you’re a millennial, Gen Xer, or baby boomer trying to stay up to date – or a Gen Zer in need of an explanation – here’s a handy list of 21 popular slang terms and the correct way to use them all.

Ally Spier contributed to an earlier version of this article.


Extra: To be “extra” is to be unnecessarily dramatic and over the top.

Flashpop / Getty Images

“She celebrated her birthday for an entire month. She’s so extra.”

Source:

Merriam-Webster


Periodt: “Periodt” is a word used at the end of a sentence, meant to add emphasis to a point that has been made. It is often regarded as a more extreme or intense version of “period.” It is also often preceded by the words “and that’s on” to add further emphasis.

Adolescent Content /Caroline Japal / Getty Images

A comma separates “periodt” from the rest of the sentence. It also sometimes seen as “periot.”

Situation One: “I don’t want to hear anything else about what I’m doing wrong until you find ways to get yourself right, periodt.”

Situation Two: “This is the best movie of all time, and that’s on periodt.”


Source:


Urban Dictionary


Snatched: The word “snatched” has two common definitions. The first refers to when someone is wearing something that is very fashionable, or has a look that looks really good. The second refers to the process of supporting an insult against someone who has lost an argument.

Pietro S. D’Aprano / Stringer / Getty Images

Situation One: “That outfit is snatched, you look so good.”

Situation Two: “Then I said, ‘by the way, everything you said and stand for is wrong, and I can’t even believe people as ignorant as you exist’.” “Oop, snatched.”


Source:
Urban Dictionary


Wig: “Wig” is a phrase used to refer to something that is amazing. It refers to the idea that what you saw was so amazing, and incited so much shock in you, that your wig flew off.

Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

*Beyonce posts a photo*

Comments: “Wig!”


Source:
Urban Dictionary


Big Yikes: “Big Yikes” is a more intense version of the word “yikes.” It refers to something that is so very embarrassing that another, much larger “yikes” is needed.

Tara Moore / Getty Images

“I thought I was posting it to my finsta but it went to my actual account.”

“YIKES.”

“Even worse: Now she knows I was with her boyfriend last night.”

“BIG YIKES.”


Source:
Urban Dictionary


Fit: Unlike the British version of the term “fit,” which means attractive, in the United States, “fit” is just the shortened version of outfit.

Gotham/GC Images / Getty Images

“She had on a fire fit at the party.”

“Their fit was bold.”

Source: Buzzfeed, Urban Dictionary


Bet: “Bet” is a word that has many uses. It can be used in lieu of the word “OK” or “YES,” but it can also be used as a response when someone challenges you, instead of saying “watch” or “we’ll see.”

Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

Situation One: “Hey, I got your text message. See you at the club later.” “Bet.”

Situation Two: “You’re not going to come to the party tonight. You never come to these types of events.” “Alright, bet.”


Source:
Urban Dictionary


Fire: “Fire” is used to refer to something that is really cool and amazing.

Eugenio Marongiu / Getty Images

“That outfit is fire.”

“The movie was fire, you have to check it out.”


Source:
Urban Dictionary


Cap / No Cap: To “cap” is to lie about something, whereas “no cap” means to tell the truth.

JGI/Tom Grill / Getty Images

“What you said is the biggest cap I’ve heard in a minute.”

“All you do is cap, there’s nothing real about you.”


Source:
Urban Dictionary


Shade: The word “shade” can be used as itself to refer to a situation where someone illustrated sneaky actions toward someone or something. On the other end, the person who has done the sneaky action has participated in the verb form of shade, which is to “throw shade.”

Eugenio Marongiu / Getty Images

“I see you over there throwing shade.”

“She was out here throwing shade.”

“You are being so shady right now, omg.”

“Shade.”


Source:


Urban Dictionary


Flex: To “flex” (as a verb) is to knowingly flaunt and show off. As a noun, a “flex” is the thing being shown off itself.

Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

Situation One: “He drove himself to school in a new car the day after he got his licence. He’s trying to flex.”

Situation Two: “Big flex, I just got a job promotion last night.”

Source:

Bustle


Go Off: “Go off” can be used to encourage a choice, or to support a rant or ridiculous behaviour that’s already occurred, usually meant humorously. Often, the phrase “I guess” follows it.

“You sat there for five minutes trying to tell me how to live my life, meanwhile I have yet to see you get yours together. But go off, I guess.”

Source: Urban Dictionary


Lewk: “Lewk” is a variation of “look,” a signature physical trait, or a specially and carefully constructed outfit or appearance

Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images

“Their dress at prom was a lewk.”

“Did you see Megan Thee Stallion’s lewk in her newest video?”

Source: The Cut


Lit: “Lit” is an adjective to describe when something’s amazing, exciting, high-energy, or otherwise great. It can alternatively mean intoxicated or drunk.

Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

Situation One: “That party was lit.”

Situation Two: “I was way too lit last night.”

Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary


Lowkey / Highkey: “Lowkey” means slightly, secretly, modestly, or discretely. It’s the opposite of “highkey,” for when you’re sincerely or assertively into something.

“I lowkey can’t wait for summer to be over.”

“I highkey love snow.”

Source: Business Insider


Salty: To be “salty” is to be annoyed, upset, or bitter, usually about something minor.

“You look really salty right now. What happened?”

“I’m mad salty right now though, lowkey.”

Source:

Urban Dictionary


Slay: To “slay” is to do really well or succeed at something. The term first emerged during the 1970s and ’80s in the midst of black drag and ballroom culture.

David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Situation One: “She slayed that fit” or “I slayed that test.”

Situation Two: “How do I look?” “Girl, you slay.”

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer, PushBlack Now, Business Insider


Shook: If someone’s “shook,” they’re affected by something, usually negatively and very emotionally. It can also mean shocked, surprised, or scared.

Frantzesco Kangaris / Stringer / Getty Images

“Can’t believe how that movie ended. I’m shook.”

Source:

Urban Dictionary


Stan: “Stan” can be a noun for an overzealous and obsessive fan, and a verb meaning to be that kind of fan. It originated from an Eminem song of the same name. Someone can be a “stan” of a celebrity, or used as a verb, they can “stan” them. The word can also be used to express tame support of a person or a cause.

Brian Rasic/Getty Images

Situation One: “I stan pretty hard for Lizzo.”

Situation Two: “Don’t say that to the ‘Game of Thrones’ stans.”

Situation Three: “She is an incredible pop singer, unproblematic, who loves and supports equal rights. We have to stan.”

Source:

Rolling Stone


Tea: “Tea” is gossip, and “spilling the tea” is the act of gossiping. We can also thank black drag culture for this iconic phrase. “Tea” is also used when one is agreeing with a point someone has just said.

Getty Images

Situation One: “Spill the tea, what did he say?”

Situation Two: “Last night was a mess. Here’s the tea.”

Situation Three: “And then I said, I can’t support or be with someone who doesn’t love and support me.” “Tea.”

Source: Merriam-Webster, Urban Dictionary


Thirsty: Someone is “thirsty” if they’re overly eager and desperate, usually for attention, approval, or compliments.

Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

“He’s posted, like, 10 selfies in the last hour. He’s so thirsty.”

Source:

New York Times

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