If it feels like you need a translator to understand your teenager, help is on the way.
As part of TODAY’s “Teens Tell All” series, we asked adolescents to enlighten the older crowd about all those mysterious terms they throw out when they talk or text.
Teens Tell All about slang like ‘lit,’ ‘salty,’ ‘down in the DMs’ and more
You may have heard about “Netflix and Chill” — when you go over to your significant other’s house to watch Netflix (wink wink), but it’s actually just a make out session (or more, eek!).
Or “bae,” a short word for “babe” or “baby” (or, one theory has it, an acronym for Before Anyone Else) that you use to call your boyfriend or girlfriend.
But there’s more. Much, much more.
Teen slang, decoded: What are they really saying?
Of course, teen speak is nothing new: Every generation has had its own language. Just consider how the word “great” has morphed through the years: boss, groovy, rad, bad, the bomb. Now today, it’s “lit.”
Teens use coded language as an expression of independence, a way to create an identity separate from their parents and, sometimes, to keep their parents in the dark. Knowing the right words also creates an instant bond for a social group, or “fam,” the latest lingo for the inner circle.
“Fam are the people you ride or die with,” Kennedi said.
“So if you’re going down the hall, you’ll say ‘What up, fam?’” Adela added.
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Because of social media, slang these days gets hot fast and burns out faster. Once a word goes mainstream, it’s dead.
Ready for a crash course in teen speak? Here we go:
Teen speak glossary:
BAE – Term of endearment, “Before Anyone Else,” also short for babe or baby
Basic – Mainstream in a negative way
Bruh – Another way of saying bro
Curve – Reject someone romantically
Dead – When you are so overwhelmed you feel like you are dead
Down in the DM – When someone direct messages you on social media instead of messaging you by phone or talking in person, often with the intent to hook up
Fam – The friends you are closest to
Finna – Going to/about to, short for “fixing to”
Goals – What you’re trying to do or be like, the ultimate goal
GOAT – Greatest of all time
Gucci – Good, cool
High-key – People say high key when they are about to say something they want everyone to know about
Hundo P – 100 percent, confirming something
I can’t even – When you are so overwhelmed you can’t comprehend something
I’m weak – That was funny
It’s lit – It’s cool, it’s awesome
Kek – To laugh out loud
Low-key – People say low key when they are about to say something they don’t want everyone to know about
On fleek, on point – Nailed it
Peep – To take a look at something
RT – Retweet, when you agree with something someone says
Salty – Bitter about something
Savage – Badass
Ship – Short for relationship, if you “ship” two people, you want them to make it as a couple
Sips tea – To mind one’s own business
Skurt – Go away or leave
Smash – To have casual sex
Straight fire – Hot/trendy
Squad – Your group of friends
Sus – Suspect, when something is shady
Swipe left – On Tinder, when you don’t like someone
Swipe right – On Tinder, when you like someone
TBH – To be honest
Thirsty – Desperate
Throw shade – Give someone a dirty look or say something nasty
Vibes – The atmosphere or feeling someone has; Sunday vibes would mean laying on the couch relaxing
v. – Very
Woke – Aware of and sensitive to current events and social justice issues
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