Teens often complain parents just don’t understand them. But what about when parents really don't know the words? Here's what you need to know about the latest teen lingo.
Saying things like “shade,” “preach,” “shipping” and “you so extra,” teens across Maryland are adopting their own slang and ways of communicating — and causing their parents to question their more seasoned language skills.
“Sometimes I don’t understand what my children are saying to each other,” says Maria Lee, a Pasadena mom of three. Lee’s oldest child, Ava Rauch, is a sophomore at Broadneck High School in Arnold. The words Ava and her friends use when they are together can leave Lee wondering what they really mean. “I feel very much out of the loop — and very old!” she says.
That feeling is normal, says Deborah Tannen, a professor in the Department of Linguistics at Georgetown University and author of “You’re the Only One I Can Tell,” which explores the language of female friends. For decades teens have created their own lingo. They are establishing their identities, and by developing and using their own phrases, they connect with others while distinguishing themselves, she says. “Outsiders often see it as exclusive and meant to exclude them, but the motivation is probably more the inclusiveness of those that are part of the group,” she says.
Many of the words and phrases used today come from the fast, “back and forth” nature of social media, she says. “Acronyms become words, words become acronyms,” she says. “They will say LOL, although LOL is now so old-fashioned.” That’s the challenge with slang, author Mark Leigh writes in his book, “How to Talk Teen.” It’s always evolving. “What’s on trend one day is suddenly sooo last month,” he writes.
Know the lingo
Here is a list of terms teens are using today, as well as what they mean, provided by a number of local parents and teens.
- Ard Ard (adverb, adjective) – OK
- Basic (adjective) – Like everyone else, boring, predictable
- Beast (noun) – Someone who excels in an activity
- Bet – You bet, yes, sure or all right
- Dumb siced (adjective) – Extremely excited
- Fun Sponge (adjective) – Someone who takes the fun out of a situation
- GOAT (acronym) – Greatest of all time
- Gucci (adjective) – Feeling good, doing fine
- HMU (acronym) – Hit me up (often a text abbreviation meaning call or email me)
- Hype (adjective) – Fast, exciting or stimulating
- Icy (adjective) – Often used to describe shiny or fancy jewelry
- Lit (adjective) – Legitimate; when something is cool or an event that is in full swing
- Netflix and chill – To meet under the pretense of watching Netflix but actually planning to make out or have sex
- On fleek – On point, perfectly executed (This term is on its way out, according to several teens.)
- Preach (verb) – Said when you agree with someone
- Salty (adjective) – Acting angrily toward someone; to be bitter about something
- Savage (adjective) – Cool
- Shade/Throw shade (noun, verb) – Disrespecting someone by being rude
- Shipping (verb) – Supporting two people involved in a romantic relationship; wishing for two people to become involved in a relationship
- Slay (verb) – Dominate, as in a competition
- Smash (verb) – To have casual sex
- Snack (adjective, noun) – An attractive person; a whole meal
- Squad – A group of close friends
- Swoll/Swole (adjective) – Muscular or strong
- TBH (acronym) – To be honest
- Thicc (adjective) – A girl who is large in the “right places” but not overweight
- Thirsty (adjective) – Derogatory word for being overly eager, desperate to be with someone
- V (adverb) – Very
- Yeet (adverb) – Yes or awesome
- You so extra – When someone went overboard with appearance or attitude. Connotation may be positive or negative.
More teen terms
According to Mark Leigh, British author of “How to Talk Teen,” many of the slang terms used in the United Kingdom originate in the U.S. He includes hundreds of teen slang examples in his 2016 book. A few examples are below but check with your teen before using them — they could be so last year.
- AF (adverb) – Completely, totally; abbreviation for “as f***”
- Blinkage (noun) – The degree to which your eyes are closed in a photograph
- BT dubs (interjection) – By the way, but with “dubs” for the “W’ in way
- Ghost/ghosting (verb) – Leaving suddenly, without warning
- Hiberdating (verb) – Someone who disappears from view and stops socializing because they’re spending almost all of their time with a new boyfriend/girlfriend
- Obvs (adverb) – Quick way to say “obviously”
- Presh (adjective) – Shorter version of “precious”
- Squad goals (noun) – Collective aims and objectives of a group of friends
- V card (noun) – Virginity as a physical object
- Zombie leg (noun) – When one or both legs have fallen asleep
By Allison Eatough