24 slang words teens and Gen Zers are using in 2020, and what they really mean

These are the terms and slang words that Gen Zers can't stop using. Kaspars Grinvalds / Shutterstock
Teens and Gen Z members are using a number of new slang terms, many of which are confusing to older generations.
If you've ever wondered what terms like "Periodt", "Snatched" or "Big Yikes" mean, then this guide is for you.
Here is a list of 24 popular Gen Z slang terms and their proper uses.
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In a world dominated by meme culture, ever-changing social media platforms, and the ability to wrap your thoughts in a 280-character tweet, your understanding of basic slang can increase your credibility as a functional and supposedly cool person strengthen or impair.
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Scroll through the comments on a Gen Z influencer's Instagram feed and you may feel completely out of control of what the world is talking about.
Although many of these terms have been around for decades, often derived from the language of black and queer communities, online spaces have made the language's spread, appropriation, and development faster than ever.
Whether you're a Millennial, Gen Xer, or Baby Boomer trying to keep up-to-date - or a Gen Zer in need of a refresher - here's a handy list of 24 popular slang terms and the right way to use them all to use.
Ally Spier contributed to an earlier version of this article.
Extra: To be "extra" means to be unnecessarily dramatic and exaggerated.
Flashpop / Getty Images
"She celebrated her birthday for a whole month. She's so extra."
Source: Merriam-Webster
Periodt: "Periodt" is a word used at the end of a sentence to highlight a point that has been made. It is often viewed as a more extreme or intense version of "period". It is also often prefixed with the words “and that's on” to add further emphasis.
Youth content / Caroline Japal / Getty Images
A comma separates "periodt" from the rest of the sentence. It is also sometimes referred to as the "Periot".
Situation one: "I don't want to hear anything else about what I'm doing wrong until you find ways to get yourself right, period."
Situation two: "This is the best movie ever, and it's on Periodt."
Source: Urban Dictionary
Kidnapped: The word "kidnapped" has two definitions in common. The first relates to when someone is wearing something that is very fashionable or has a really good look. The second is related to the process of supporting an insult against someone who has lost an argument.
Pietro S. D'Aprano / Stringer / Getty Images
Situation one: "The outfit is caught, you look so good."
Situation two: "Then I said, 'By the way, everything you said and what you stand for is wrong, and I can't even believe that people are as ignorant as you exist.' "Oops, caught."
Source: Urban Dictionary
Wig: "wig" is a phrase used to refer to something that is amazing. It refers to the idea that what you saw was so amazing and caused so much shock in you that your wig flew off.
Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images
* Beyonce posted a photo *
Comment: "Wig!"
Source: Urban Dictionary
Big Yikes: "Big Yikes" is a more intense version of the word "Yikes". It refers to something that is so embarrassing that another, much bigger "oops" is needed.
Klaus Vedfelt / DigitalVision / Getty
"I thought I was going to publish it on my Finsta, but it went to my actual account."
"Worse still, now she knows that I was with her boyfriend last night."
Source: Urban Dictionary
Fit: Unlike the British version of the term “fit”, which means attractive in the US, “fit” is just the shortened version of the outfit.
Gotham / GC Images / Getty Images
"She had a fire attack at the party."
"Your fit was bold."
Source: Buzzfeed, Urban Dictionary
Bet: "Bet" is a word that has many uses. It can be used in place of the word "OK" or "YES", but it can also be used as an answer when someone challenges you instead of saying "watch" or "we'll see".
Thomas Barwick / Getty Images
Situation one: "Hey, I got your text message. I'll see you later at the club." "Bet."
Situation two: "You are not going to the party tonight. You never come to such events." "Okay, bet."
Source: Urban Dictionary
Fire: "Fire" refers to something that is really cool and amazing.
Eugenio Marongiu / Getty Images
"The outfit is fire."
"The movie was fire, you have to see it."
Source: Urban Dictionary
Cap / No Cap: "Cap" means lying about something, while "No Cap" means telling the truth.
JGI / Tom Grill / Getty Images
"What you said is the biggest cap I've heard in a minute."
"All you do is hat, there is nothing real about you."
Source: Urban Dictionary
Shadow: The word "shadow" can be used as itself to refer to a situation in which someone has illustrated underhand actions towards someone or something. At the other end, the person who carried out the devious action participated in the verb form of the shadow, namely "throwing shadows".
Eugenio Marongiu / Getty Images
"I see you casting shadows over there."
"She was out here casting shadows."
"You're so seedy right now, omg."
Source: Urban Dictionary
Flex: "Flex" (as a verb) means to knowingly flaunt and show off. As a noun, a "flex" is what shows itself.
Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images
Situation one: "The day after his driver's license he drove to school in a new car. He tries to bend over."
Situation two: "Big Flex, I just got a promotion last night."
Source: hustle and bustle
Go Off: "Go Off" can be used to encourage a choice or to encourage an already occurring rant or ridiculous behavior that is usually meant in a humorous way. Often the phrase "I think" follows.
Youthful Content / Brittany Bravo
"You sat there for five minutes trying to tell me how to live my life while I haven't seen you bring your life together. But go, I guess."
Source: Urban Dictionary
Lewk: "Lewk" is a variation of "look", a distinctive physical feature or a specially and carefully constructed outfit or appearance
Steve Granitz / WireImage / Getty Images
"Her prom dress was a lewk."
"Have you seen Megan Thee Stallions Lewk in her latest video?"
Source: The Cut
Lit: "Lit" is an adjective used to describe when something is amazing, exciting, energetic, or otherwise great. It can alternatively mean intoxicated or drunk.
Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images
Situation one: "This party was set on fire."
Situation two: "I was way too light last night."
Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Lowkey / Highkey: "Lowkey" means light, secret, modest or discreet. It is the opposite of "high key" when you are sincere or confident about something.
Hello world / Getty Images
"I can't wait for summer to be over."
"I love snow."
Source: Business Insider
Salty: To be "salty" means to be upset, angry, or bitter, usually about something minor.
shaunl / Getty Images
"You look really salty now. What happened?"
"I'm crazy salty now though, reserved."
Source: Urban Dictionary
Killing: "Killing" means doing really well or achieving something. The term first appeared in the 1970s and 1980s amid the black drag and ballroom culture.
Zendaya attends the 25th Annual Critics' Choice Awards held at the Barker Hangar on January 12, 2020 in Santa Monica, California. George Pimentel / WireImage
Situation one: "She killed this fit" or "I killed this test".
Situation two: "How do I look?" "Girl you kill."
Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer, PushBlack Now, Business Insider
Shaken: When someone has "shaken" they are affected by something, usually negative and very emotional. It can also be shocked, surprised, or scared.
ArtMarie / Getty Images
"I can't believe how this movie ended. I'm shocked."
Source: Urban Dictionary
Stan: "Stan" can be a noun for an overzealous and obsessive fan and a verb that means being that kind of fan. It originated from an Eminem song of the same name. Someone can be a "stan" of a celebrity or be used as a verb, they can "stan" them. The word can also be used to express tame support for a person or cause.
Scott Barbour / Getty Images
Situation one: "I'm pretty tough on Lizzo."
Situation two: "Don't say that to the Game of Thrones stans."
Situation three: "She is an incredible pop singer, unproblematic, who loves and supports equality. We have to stan."
Source: Rolling Stone
Tea: "Tea" is gossip and "spilling the tea" is the act of clapping. We can also thank the Black Drag Culture for this icon. "Tea" is also used when agreeing to a point someone has just said.
Matheus Ferrero / Unsplash
Situation one: "Spill the tea, what did he say?"
Situation two: "Last night was a mess. Here is the tea."
Situation three: "And then I said, I can't support anyone or be with someone who doesn't love and support me." "Tea."
Source: Merriam-Webster, Urban Dictionary
Thirsty: A person is "thirsty" when they are overly eager and desperate, usually for attention, approval, or compliments.
Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images
"He's posted about 10 selfies in the last hour. He's so thirsty."
Source: New York Times
Yeet: "Yeet" is a versatile word mostly used either as a verb or to tell the process of discarding things at high speed.
Eugenio Marongiu / Getty Images
Situation one: If someone throws something in the trash, that person can scream "STILL".
Situation two: "The car hit the hydrant and then quickly left. It STILL worked."
Source: Urban Dictionary
Sksksksk: This phrase is very versatile too, but mostly a filling expression of excitement used when people don't know what else to say or how to transition into a new phrase. It's popular with VSCO girls who use it to express their excitement.
Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images
"Are you going to the party tonight?"
Source: Business Insider
Simp: Basically, "simp," the modern way of referring to someone as a sucker or people-lover, is mainly used to describe people (generally those who identify as male) who are willing to do anything to help someone do it to make you fall in love with her.
Tara Moore / Getty Images
While "simp" exploded in 2019 and 2020, the term and its current meaning hailed from hip-hop of the late 1980s and early 90s, according to Dictionary.com.
"Yes, I bought her flowers, took her to dinner, gave her my Netflix password, and now we're planning to go to the park tomorrow to watch birds."
"Man, you are a simp."
Source: Urban Dictionary, Dictionary.com
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