Gen Z slang: The one-stop-no-judgment guide for millennials

11 Nov 2023 09:05am
Illustrative purposes.
Illustrative purposes.

SHAH ALAM - Your outfit is mid, my daughter once exclaimed while I looked utterly confused in the middle of a clothing store changing room.

Later, I found out mid meant something that was mediocre and boring!

Roughly speaking, Generation Z (Gen Z) encompasses anyone born in the late nineties and in the early 2000's.

And like all generations, Gen Z-ers have their own slang and lingo that can sometimes sound like a totally different language.

If you are not quick enough to catch on, you might find yourself with FOMO (fear of missing out—don't worry, you'll learn).

Maybe it happened at your local coffee shop. Or while you were waiting in line at the grocery store. No matter what generation you're a part of, you've probably experienced this: passing a group of young adults and overhearing what you consider to be absolute gibberish.

In actuality, those words and phrases you couldn't understand at all are an entire language used by Gen Z kids to communicate with one another.

As Gen Zers become more and more prominent in the workplace, so does their unique brand of communication. Gen Z slang can sound like a foreign language to older coworkers—and often, when people attempt (and fail) to use it correctly, it can be more embarrassing than ingratiating.

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With new slang popping up practically every time you blink, how are you supposed to keep up with the day-to-day jargon of your Gen Z kids? Fear not, there's still time to keep from becoming old and uncool! Our list of 50 Gen Z slang words is here to keep you from scratching your head every time a Gen Z-er opens their mouth.

50 Gen Z Slang Words (With Meanings)

  1. Fam: Fam is a shorter word for family, but don't be fooled—it can be used to describe your friends or the way Millennials use "bro".
  2. Glow up: This means a makeover or transformation from bad to good.
  3. CEO: If you're the CEO of something, it means you've mastered it or you're a pro.
  4. Cancel Culture: Cancel culture is a form of shaming the actions or opinions of a public figure, company or organisation.
  5. Stan: No, it's not short for Stanley– instead, it's a combination of "stalker" and "fan." If you stan someone, it means you're obsessed but not in a creepy way. A note for all the millenials reading this, this originated from rapper Eminem's song with Dido titled Stan. 'Stan' was portayed invideo starring the two and Devon Sawa as 'Stan', who brought the rapper’s vivid (and fictional) tale of an obsessive fan trying in vein to get the attention of his hero to excruciating life, before delivering the painful twist ending we *should* all know by now: “And in the car they found a tape, but they didn’t say who it was to / Come to think about it, his name was... it was you”. Stan was officially recognised by the Oxford Dictionary in 2017.
  6. E-boy or E-girl: This is similar to emo or goth culture, but they use the internet to express themselves.
  7. W: To most, it's just a letter of the alphabet, but to Gen Zers, it simply means "win."
  8. Dank: If something is dank, it's excellent or of very high quality.
  9. Ghosting: This term is common in the earlier talking stages of a relationship. Ghosting someone means you start ignoring them or stop texting them back.
  10. Salty: Gen Z uses this term when they're feeling jealous.
  11. Big Yikes: The slang speaks for itself in this one. Big Yikes is used when you're so embarrassed that "yikes" doesn't do justice.
  12. Boujee: This term can be used if you're describing something or someone that is extravagant or fancy.
  13. Finna: Finna is a shortened term for saying "I'm going to."
  14. Cap: An older but still relevant term, cap means to lie. If you say "no cap" it means you are being authentic or truthful.
  15. High-key: High-key is simply the opposite of being low-key.
  16. Cheugy: Something that is cheugy is not at all trendy.
  17. Simp: Someone who does way too much for the person they have a crush on.
  18. Camp: Something that is ironically trendy. One might consider Crocs to be of the camp aesthetic.
  19. Snack: A snack is a person that you find attractive.
  20. TFW: TFW stands for "that feeling when." TFW you get off work early on a Friday.
  21. Woke: Woke refers to being politically aware.
  22. Sip tea: Sip tea is an alternative to "spilling the tea," meaning you're sitting back and listening to the gossip rather than partaking in it.
  23. L: Another simple letter-turned-slang, L is the opposite of a W—meaning a loss rather than a win.
  24. Take several seats: If someone is really getting on your nerves, you might tell them to take several seats.
  25. Drip: Another way of saying swag, drip is a term for a cool or sexy trend or style.
  26. Bop: When a song or album is exceptionally good.
  27. Sheesh: Sheesh is used to hype someone up if they're looking good or doing something good.
  28. Iykyk: This acronym is short for "if you know, you know." It's commonly used in reference to an inside joke or something only a specific community might understand.
  29. Living rent-free: If something is "living rent-free" in your head, that means you can't stop thinking about it.
  30. Hits different: When something is unique or better than the usual.
  31. Bet: Simply put, this slang term means "yes." It can be used to confirm something and could be compared to the Millennial term "word."
  32. Vibe check: To check someone's energy or mood.
  33. Periodt: Using this at the end of the statement adds emphasis or intensity to the point made.
  34. Catch these hands: To start a fight. This term is generally used in a contentious matter.
  35. Drag: If you drag someone, you're criticising or making fun of them. This can be equated to roasting someone.
  36. Finesse: Finesse means to trick or manipulate someone or a situation in order to get what you want.
  37. I'm weak: Similar to "I'm dead," this is just another term to use when you find something hilarious.
  38. Main character: This is a phrase used to describe someone who is generally well-liked and charismatic. It can also be used to describe someone when they're making a scene, but not necessarily in a bad way.
  39. Sis: A shortened version of "sister," this term is typically used to greet a friend, no matter their gender.
  40. Sending me: Another term to use if you find something particularly funny.
  41. Slaps: Used to describe how exceptional something is.
  42. Bussin': A quirky word to use when you taste something delicious.
  43. Sus: Short for "suspicious," sus it typically means something is not as expected, or shady.
  44. Snatched: If someone is looking snatched, they look really good, particularly their outfit.
  45. Guap: Money, and lots of it.
  46. Smol: Something that is small, and in most cases exceptionally adorable.
  47. This ain't it, chief: Another way of giving disapproval for something.
  48. Extra: Someone who is out there and enjoys taking things to a new level of flamboyance.
  49. Clapback: A response or comeback after you've been "called out" for something.
  50. G.O.A.T.:Short for "The Greatest of All Time." An acronym used to describe someone incredible.

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