One of my greatest fears is that I will get stuck in an era–that I won’t keep pace with the vernacular of the time. Therefore, keeping up with the latest Gen Z lingo is an important pastime for me.
You’ve probably noticed each generation has adopted unique expressions and language that don’t always translate across generational boundaries. In fact, we have a lot to learn from each other. How well versed are you in Gen Z speak?
As the first generation of 100% digital natives (born after 1996), Gen Z definitely has a unique language pattern that’s has been influenced by “textspeak.” The Gen Z world is full of abbreviations, acronyms, and shorthand. Most mobile phone users have adopted text language but there are some that are used more prevalently with teens like KPC (keeping parents clueless), P911 (parent alert), or PAL (parents are listening).
I recently asked some teens which words other generations need to know in order to stay current. Here are a few that made the top of the list.
If you want to express your excitement or approval you might use “yeet!” or “yaaaaas!” (a more excited version of yes).
For expressing that something is coveted or good you might say it is “Gucci” or “lit”—the highest caliber of awesome. When I was a teen, Gucci was a handbag that we all coveted so this one is easy for me to remember.
Someone who likes popular brands may be considered a “hypebeast,” and someone who is unoriginal and only follows mainstream trends will be called “basic.” And if you are showing off you may be described as “flexing”—which is not necessarily a good thing in Gen Z culture. Or maybe you’re being over the top (dramatic)—in which case, you are “extra.”
I love that a group of friends is now called a “squad”—it sure beats the cliques of my day. But when a member of the squad ignores you, presumably by not replying to texts or social media, you’re being “ghosted.”
There are many expressions that are derived from social media. For example, “finsta” or fake Instagram accounts are used to share memes or inside jokes just for close friends. Speaking of memes, they are another source of frequently used expressions. The ever-popular VSCO girls are known for using terms like "sksksks" (the equivalent of haha) and "And I Oop” (when you have no words).
Finally, it’s worth mentioning the recent “Ok Boomer” movement that went viral this month. According to Wikipedia it’s “a catchphrase and internet meme that gained popularity throughout 2019, used to dismiss or mock attitudes stereotypically attributed to the baby boomer generation. It is considered by some to be highly ageist.” I’m not supporting these cross generational stereotypes, but isn’t this just the modern age equivalent of the eye roll for the older generations?
My hope is that we can broaden both our vocabulary and understanding across all age groups. Now “talk amongst yourselves”—or be like a VSCO girl and leave us a comment on Instagram.