If You’re A Millennial Or Older, Here’s A Handy Guide For Understanding Gen Zers

Slang is evolving faster than ever in the age of social media. If You’re A Millennial Or Older, Here’s A Handy Guide For Understanding Gen Zers Giphy

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Whether you grew up saying “groovy,” “gnarly,” or “rad,” chances are you’ve wondered what a teen or early twenty-something was talking about at some point over the past few years.

While every generation has its own unique slang, Washington University linguist John Baugh said Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012) have seen a much faster adoption and evolution of the phrases they use to stay, as the kids used to say, hip.

“Even though slang has always existed, the emergence of social media has created a situation where the potential for slang virality has increased,” he said.

So without further ado, here’s an excerpt from the Early Chirp Dictionary Of Gen Z Phrases:

  • Rizz: We had to start here because this word has gotten quite a bit of attention. It also demonstrates Gen Z’s penchant for abbreviating words in a unique way, since it originated from the middle of the word “charisma,” and has roughly the same meaning.
  • Sus: This entry also owes its creation to an abbreviation. It’s a shortened version of “suspicious” and is often used to describe a behavior that is seen as deceptive or a person deemed untrustworthy.
  • The Ick: Suffice it to say, if a Gen Zer says you’ve displayed “the ick,” it’s not a complement. Approximating the sound of gagging, this phrase is used to condemn cringe-worthy or off-putting behavior … like using the wrong emoji, for example.
  • Ate: Sure, this is just the past-tense form of the verb “eat,” but Gen Z gave it an all new meaning to describe someone who performed a task admirably. Bonus points if you “ate” and “left no crumbs.”

Now you might understand Gen Z better, but fair warning: If you’re trying to use these terms to sound cool, your sus behavior could give the ick.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee April 10th, 2024
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