‘On fleek’ was originally used to describe a person’s stellar eyebrows, though it soon developed into showing appreciation for someone’s appearance. Probably best to leave this one in the drafts, for fear that the younger generation will only respond with a large amount of cringe.
If something is ‘lit,’ it doesn’t mean it’s lit on fire. No, the phrase refers to any exciting activity that you’d want to experience – or just something that’s generally cool. It’s recommended to avoid this saying, however, for fear of any boomers inciting the wrath of the cool kids.
YOLO – or you only live once – was once used as a justification for any toxic life choice throughout the 2010s. As the cruel hands of time tick onward, the saying joins the graveyard of disused, wince-inducing phrases that only serve as a means of showing your age.
Originally a word that referred to valuable material (à la ‘loot’ or ‘booty’), ‘swag’ has since indicated stylish confidence, as an abbreviation of the word swagger. It’s still widely used, especially in hip-hop culture. However, if you’re starting to show grey hairs, it may be best to leave this one for the teens to use.
Take a chill pill
Telling someone to ‘take a chill pill’ simply meant you were asking someone to relax or calm down. Usually used as a sharp comeback as opposed to actual life advice, it was the perfect turn of phrase for angsty teens in decades past. However, it’s now universally understood that this piece of slang should be left firmly in the early 2000s era where it belongs.
When a conversation or topic suddenly got awkward, the in thing to do was to make a turtle shape with your hands and say “awkward turtle” out loud. This once-cool display of self-awareness now only seems like an ignorant observation of the obvious. It’s best to leave your hands as they are to avoid the inevitable eye rolls and sighs the hand-turtle will now bring.
Taking the hormone-fuelled word ‘whatever,’ shortening it by a syllable, and adding the letter ‘z’ at the end was once the epitome of coolness. Now, it’s a term that you’re only likely to hear in outdated sitcoms, rather than in real-life situations. Let’s keep it that way.
Unless you’re a successful American rapper, it’s best to avoid using ‘yo’ entirely. As catchy as it is to say – especially if you started doing it ironically – it’s a greeting that will immediately give away your age, clinging to early 90s idioms in an attempt to hold onto your youth. Not the best look.
LOL or LMAO
LOL – meaning laugh out loud, or LMAO – standing for laughing my a** off – are both used frequently by all generations. While perfectly acceptable to use while messaging; bonus points apply if you type the acronyms in lowercase, but points are lost if you turn LOL into LOLZ. Above all, never, ever utter the phrase out loud. If something is funny, just laugh!
Buff is used to describe someone – usually a man – who is extremely muscular or good-looking. Instead of adding the slang term to your vocabulary, it’s recommended that you simply stick to the word “attractive” – that covers the general message without causing your friends to cringe.
Peng was originally used when referring to an attractive female, but as time progresses, so do idioms. Now, peng can refer to anything and everything that seems appealing, from people and food to outfits and places. Steer clear of using this word if you want to keep your current friend group.
Although relatively modern in terms of slang, yeet means to throw – though it may be time to throw this piece of terminology in the trash. Gen Z are likely to look down on any millennial who carelessly yeets this term about left, right, and center.
Depending on the context, bare can mean many different things. It can mean having a lot of something – “I have bare vapes at home” – or it can be used as a reaction to something that’s surprising. Instead of simply expressing their emotions physically, the youth of today revert to slang terms to get their point across.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, TBH stands for To Be Honest (bonus points if you write the abbreviation all in lowercase). Primarily used over text, the short form term saves us from using those pesky extra letters, freeing up our time to continue to scroll through TikTok.
The youngsters of today don’t use the word thirsty in relation to thirst – that would be too easy. Instead, thirsty has taken on to mean someone who is desperate for attention, particularly in an amorous sense. The term was popularised by Soulja Boy’s 2007 album, featuring on his song called She Thirsty. Thanks, Soulja Boy.
AF simply means ‘as f***.’ Used in a variety of ways, something can be cool AF, boring AF, or hot AF. Equally, it can be used as a snappy way of describing how you’re feeling: tired AF, hungry AF, happy AF… you get the idea.
You’d be forgiven if you thought the youth of today were talking about the fashion brand when they call something Gucci. In a way, they are, as the term simply means something that is fashionable. The meaning is slowly beginning to change, however, to mean good. Next time your colleague asks how you are, it’s recommended you don’t reply: “I’m Gucci.”
This obnoxious acronym stands for If You Know, You Know. By the time you’ve figured out how to type it, it would’ve probably been quicker to write out the whole words. Used when you have insider knowledge on a subject, it truly just makes you come across as annoyingly arrogant.
Tea/pour the tea
If a teenager asks you to pour the tea, don’t reach for your nearest teapot. The slang term ‘tea’ actually means the latest in all the hottest gossip. Leave this one for the kids – you don’t want to bring this up in the office and end up having to make a round.
Some words pass from generation to generation. The slang term sick is seemingly one of those expressions, refusing to die despite the anguished cries of parents everywhere for decades. The phrase is used to describe something that’s cool, excellent, or otherwise has the beholder’s approval.
The nauseating term bae refers to someone’s partner (apparently, simply saying boyfriend or girlfriend would be too straightforward). Bae is actually an acronym, standing for Before Anyone Else – though it’s recommended that you use something else – literally anything else – instead of this sickly sweet slang.
Fam – perhaps unsurprisingly – is a shortened form of family. However, it’s not referring to your blood relatives, but actually used when talking about your friendship group. There’s no real justification to refer to your friends as anything but, so it’s best to avoid the word fam at all costs.
A big flex isn’t just when you’re showing off your muscles. It’s used in a metaphorical sense, flexing your superiority. It can be used in conjunction with pretty much anything, be it your impressive physique, your designer clothes, or how quickly you can down a drink.
Steeped in misogyny and sexism, calling someone a Karen means that they’re entitled, demanding or otherwise just an all-round nuisance. It’s only ever used to describe a troublesome female, though it’s probably better to use actual language rather than colloquialisms when dealing with a real-life Karen.
No cap means that you aren’t lying. On the opposite end of the spectrum, saying that someone is capping means that you think they aren’t telling the truth. We’ve got rappers Young Thug and Future to thank for popularizing the term, due to the phrase being the title of their hit single released back in 2017.
As a potential boomer yourself, this one phrase that you should categorically steer clear from using. OK Boomer is a saying used by the young to callously disregard the older generation’s opinions, dismissing their thoughts as nothing more than old-people-talk. Whatever happened to respecting your elders?
Periodt is a way of finishing a point, acting in a similar way to a period at the end of a sentence, though this slang has a fancy “t” lingering on the end to make it more unique. Periodt also means that you don’t want to hear any more of a discussion, having already made your final point.
Popularized by Taylor Swift when she flaunted her famous, attractive gal pals, squad goals refers to a group of people who anyone would be lucky to befriend. Usually dressed in matching outfits to some degree, having a squad of your own typically reinforces tropes of high school cliques.
If you’re a stan of someone, you’re a superfan. Deriving from Eminem’s hit of the same name in the year 2000, the rapper describes an insane, dangerous fan named Stan. Years later, the internet got hold of the phrase, using it now in slightly less-obsessive terms, simply meaning you have a lot of appreciation for an artist or celebrity.
Netflix and chill
Don’t be fooled if someone asks you to Netflix and chill – they’re not simply seeking to watch a movie and relax. No, the real meaning of this phrase is to casually hook up with someone, usually always with sexual expectations. Originating from an innocent Tweet, the phrase is now coded with far sultrier presumptions.
If someone calls you a simp, they’re saying that you are pathetically pining over someone – or acting in a submissive way to a woman. Typically said to men, it can be the blow to your self-esteem you desperately did not need. It can also be used as an insult for failed sexual pursuits.
Saying you’d like to tap or smash someone means that you’d like to engage in sexual activity with them. Boldly declaring “I’d tap that” to your pals is a sure way to raise a few disconcerted eyebrows, while inflating your own delicate sense of self-worth.
And I oop
‘And I oop’ can be used to playfully express surprise, embarrassment (for yourself or for another party), or shock. The term was created and then popularized by the drag queen Jasmine Masters, who accidentally went viral when she uttered the phrase during a YouTube video.
Saying ‘big mood’ is the modern, text-based equivalent of giving someone a thumbs up. Used on the internet – although some bold youths are starting to use the phrase out in the real world – it simply means that you find something or someone relatable in some way, and that you agree with the message being portrayed.
If a youngster enthusiastically yells “bet” at you, they’re not telling you to head down to your local casino. It’s a slang phrase that is used to vehemently agree or support something. Conversely, it can also be used to suggest doubt or disbelief, so good luck figuring out which one your teenager means.
You may hear youngsters using phrases such as “he’s so Daddy”. The meaning? Typically it’s used when referring to an attractive, older man who has an air of power around him. Actor Pedro Pascal is the internet’s latest victim of the phrase, despite the star not actually being a father in real life.
Kids these days use acronyms for everything. FOMO is one such example: it stands for Fear Of Missing Out, and is used to describe the anxiety that others are leading more fulfilling lives, usually as a justification for indulging in an experience you’d otherwise pass up. It’s okay to have FOMO when it comes to using this particular piece of slang.
Mid is a replacement for terms such as boring, average, or mediocre. An abbreviation of the word middling, it can also be used as a direct insult to someone’s actions or personality. Avoid using this phrase if you’re above a certain age, for risk of being called mid yourself.
“You’re such a snacc” is a phrase that teenagers may fearlessly shout at one another. They’re not calling their peers a bag of potato chips, but rather saying that they’re attractive or appealing to the eye. Originating on Twitter in 2009, the deliberate misspelling is purely to give the phrase a cooler edge.
The expression salty, perhaps surprisingly, originated from the US Navy – describing disgruntled or irritated seniors. The meaning has pretty much remained the same, though the phrase is now plastered all over the internet, usually used when someone expresses a strong opinion that the user doesn’t agree with.