Teens in each generation develop a unique language of their own. Over the years, parents have heard terms ranging from "outta sight" and "phat," to things like "sick" and "gag me with a spoon." Every decade has been marked by its special phrases that quickly grow outdated (and might just become "cheugy") to the teens of the future.
But even while being a part of youth culture (and the slang that defines it) when you're young, it can get harder and harder to keep up with the latest teen jargon by the time you're the parent of one.
Trying to figure out what teens are saying is increasingly challenging, as the explosion of social media, memes, digital communication, and the ever-present-cellphone means teen-speak is evolving faster than ever. Once you think you've mastered a few phrases, you're probably already out of touch again.
Some of this slang enters the mainstream vernacular—and by that point, is no longer cool—or "sic." But most of these words simply disappear as they lose favor with kids and are almost instantaneously replaced with new ones.
So, as "with it" and up to speed as we adults think we may be, most of us could benefit from a primer on the latest teen slang. We cover it all below, from social media acronymsand text message shorthand to code words for drugs, friends, and parties.
It's important to educate yourself about common teen slang so that you understand what your teen is talking about—both online and in person.
Teen slang words may be confusing to those not in the know, but most are harmless and a part of a teen's identity. Kids use these words to exert independence, sound cool, and/or to fit in with their peers. They seek to differentiate themselves from their parents and want to feel unique, free, and even revolutionary. Using slang helps teens do that while also bonding with friends.
Below are some common teen slang words you might hear:
- AF - Stands for "as f**k," used to emphasize a statement (i.e. "she's cool AF")
- Cheugy - Something that is out of date or a person who is trying too hard
- Dead - Something is so funny that the speaker has "died" of laughter
- Dope- Cool or awesome
- Extra - Over-the-top, extreme
- Fit - Short for outfit
- Fire- Hot, trendy, amazing, or on point (formerly "straight fire")
- GOAT- "Greatest of All Time"
- Go Off - A phrase said to encourage someone to continue, usually when they're ranting about something (can also be sarcastic, as in, "but go off, I guess")
- Gucci- Good, cool, or going well
- Hits Different - Something that "hits different" is a lot better than normal
- IYKYK - Stands for "if you know, you know"
- Lit- Amazing, cool, or exciting
- Low-Key - Added to a feeling or desire to downplay it (i.e. "I'm low-key freaking out")
- Mood - A word to signify agreement
- OMG- An abbreviation for "Oh my gosh"or "Oh my God"
- ONG - Basically the equivalent of "I swear to God"
- Salty- Bitter, angry, agitated
- Sic/Sick- Cool or sweet
- Slay - To be extremely stylish or successful
- Sleep On - To be ignorant to something or someone's value (i.e. "Don't sleep on the new Ariana single")
- Snatched- Looks good, perfect, or fashionable; the new "on fleek"
- TBH- To be honest
- Tea - Gossip, situation, story, or news
- Thirsty- Trying toget attention
- Yassify - To apply several beauty filters to a picture until the person is totally unrecognizable
- Yeet - To throw something
- YOLO- "You Only Live Once" (often used ironically)
People or Relationships
Relationships are an important aspect of adolescence. In the teen years, kids develop their own identities and explore who they are outside of their families. Interactions with their peers are a key component of this process—and they often create unique words to describe their friendships and romantic relationships.
Here are some slang words your teen might use when talking about other people:
- Bae- "Before anyone else," babe, or baby; is used to describe a romantic partner or good friend
- Basic - Boring, average, or unoriginal
- BF/GF- Boyfriend or girlfriend (used when texting, not in conversation)
- BFF- "Best friends forever"
- Bruh- Bro or dude (all three terms are gender-neutral)
- Cap - Fake or a lie
- CEO - To be the "CEO of" something is to excel at it
- Curve- To reject someone romantically (related to "ghosting")
- Emo- Someone who is emotional or a drama queen
- Fam - Group of friends
- Flex - To show off
- Ghosted - To end a relationship by cutting off communication
- A Karen - A disparaging way to describe a petty middle-aged woman, who is rude, especially to people who work in the service industry. (For example, saying, "What a Karen," about someone who returns their drink at a restaurant for not having enough ice.)
- No cap - Totally true or no lie
- Noob/n00b- A person who doesn't know what they're doing or who is bad at something; in other words, a newbie
- OK, Boomer - Usually said in response to a person or idea that seems outdated
- Periodt - End of statement emphasizer. For example: “That’s the best ice cream, periodt.”
- Ship- You might "ship" two people together, as in you think they should be a couple; derived from the word relationship
- Shook - To be incredibly shocked or shaken up
- Simp - Someone who does way too much for the person they like; to have a huge crush on someone
- Spill the Tea - Asking someone to spill gossip
- Squad -Group of friends that hang out together regularly, used ironically
- Stan - An overzealous fan of a particular group or celebrity
- Sus- Suspicious, shady, not to be trusted
- Throw shade- To give someone a dirty look
- Tight- In a close relationship or friendship
- Tool- Someone who is stupid, obnoxious, rude, and/or embarrasses themselves, often a jock type
Teens often create shortcuts by combining two words together. To understand what they mean, you need to know the definition of each word.
Here are some examples of compound teen slang:
- Crashy- Crazy and trashy, like a trainwreck
- Crunk- Gettinghigh and drunk at the same time, or crazy and drunk
- Hangry- Hungry and angry
- Requestion- Request and a question, or to question again
- Tope- Tight and dope
Parties, Drugs, and Sex
Teens are prone to experiment and push boundaries—and also to talk a big game. So, sometimes the below words will simply be used in fun or boasting. However, sometimes they indicate risky (or potentially risky) behavior.
For the most part, teen get-togethers are a fun rite of passage and aren't automatically anything to be concerned about. However, parties (and related teen slang) can raise concerns over supervision, appropriate behavior, the use of illegal substances, alcohol, peer pressure, bullying, and unprotected sex.
Whether or not your child is involved in any inappropriate or dangerous activities, you'll want to know what they're talking about and be attuned to any words that might indicate possible trouble.
Below is a list of some social slang to be aware of:
- 53X- Sex
- Body count - The number of people someone has slept with
- CU46- Seeyou for sex
- Dayger - Party during the day
- Function/Func - Party
- Kick back - Small party
- Molly- Ecstasy (MDMA),a dangerousparty drug
- Netflix and chill- Used as a front for inviting someone over to make out (or maybe more)
- Plug - Someone who can hook you up with drugs
- Rager - Big party
- Smash- To have casual sex
- Sloshed - To be drunk
- The plug - Someone that supplies alcohol/drugs
- Throw down - To throw a party
- Turnt- To be high or drunk (formerly "turnt up")
- X- Ecstasy
- WTTP- Want to trade photos?
- LMIRL- Let's meet in real life
Teen slang changes continuously. If you aren't sure what a slang term means, the websiteUrban Dictionarycan help. It's dedicated to keeping up with today's slang and is a resource thatparents can use. Be warned, however, as it features user-submitted content thatmay be crude.
There are alsophone apps that can help you translate teen slang. SlangIt - The Slang Dictionary and the Chat Slang Dictionary are just a few examples of mobile apps that can decode your teen's secret language.
Additionally, you can simply try asking your teen—or other teens you know—to translate slang you don't understand. Bringing up these words with your teen may be awkward but might also provide a doorway to important conversations with your child.
A Word From Verywell
Aim to balance safety with privacy and independence for your teen. Talk with your teen about the concerns you have, your family rules and expectations, as well as safe and healthy social media usage.
Teenagers need to be able to have private conversations with their friends. And clearly, you can't monitor what your teen is doing or talking about all the time. Still, you may want to monitor your teen's social media feeds at times, and pay attention when they're chatting with their pals. If you see or hear conversations that worry you—or that you can't decode—be ready to take action as needed.
How Social Media Has Changed the Way We Parent
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
Pfeifer JH, Berkman ET. The development of self and identity in adolescence: neural evidence and implications for a value-based choice perspective on motivated behavior. Child Dev Perspect. 2018;12(3):158-164. doi:10.1111/cdep.12279
Ophir Y, Asterhan CS, Schwarz BB. Unfolding the notes from the walls: Adolescents’ depression manifestations on Facebook.Computers in Human Behavior. 2017;72:96-107. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2017.02.013
By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, an international bestselling author of books on mental strength and host of The Verywell Mind Podcast. She delivered one of the most popular TEDx talks of all time.
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