Cracking The Code of Millennial Slang

Speak with the times

One fantastic (and scary?) thing about the internet is how rapidly it pushes the boundaries of language. It’s hard to go a week without a new Twitter-born word or phrase.

Regardless of your generation, new slang is tricky. So, we’ve decoded this list of popular words and phrases that are killing it on the internet right now.

Glo up

When someone says—“She really glo’d up”—it refers to a person who has suddenly become more attractive and mature. YouTube star Logan Paul used this term to mock his younger brother Jake, who’s also highly popular on the site.

On his dis track "The Fall of Jake Paul," lyrics such as “Hold up—I’ma throw up, looking at your face you don’t know what it means to glo up” offer a veiled reference to his brother’s persistent acne. It’s both disturbing and hilarious to see that sibling rivalry is reaching new heights in this social-media age.

Lit

Lit can describe a situation or event that’s extremely cool, exciting, or crazy. “This party is so freaking lit right now.” Hip-hop artist Travis Scott is notable for his frequent use of “It’s lit!” as an ad-lib on songs he produces.

Milk

First originated as a meme, “Get him some milk!” or “That boy need some milk!” should be used for anyone in need of help or self improvement. The word (in this context) first gained traction on the now-defunct social-media platform Vine.

Tea

Tea means gossip or dirt. Perhaps, the most legendary example of “spilling the tea” is Beyonce’s Lemonade, where she publicly called out husband Jay-Z for his infidelity. This meme is often accompanied by images of Kermit The Frog nonchalantly sipping on his tea.

Woke

A woke person is considered politically active, aware of racial tensions, the prison industrial complex, consumerism, gender fluidity, and the impact of socioeconomic disparity on minorities.

Critics have suggested that some of those who represent themselves as woke are sometimes more concerned with making a statement on social media than engaging in “real-life” activism. Hopefully, the #metoo movement and other's like it will turn thought into action.

Salty

Salty means you're in a bad mood, as in “she was salty because she lost the game.”

A salty person may harbor grudges, as it also indicates hurt feelings or bitter disappointment. With that said, one man is forever changing how we think about salt on the internet: Salt Bae. Salt Bae reminds us all that being salty is often justified. Also, it’s impossible to stay grumpy when imagining that majestic man sprinkling sodium chloride all over a bovine carcass.

Snap trap

A snap trap is a tactic used to find out what an SO ("significant other," or romantic partner) is up to. If you send a text and your SO doesn’t reply, that's offensive, right? If you follow up with a Snapchat and they open it—your snap trap was just activated.

Eye roll because bae obviously has time to snap but not to text you back.

Finstagram

A Finstagram is an alternative Instagram account where people, typically teens, can experiment by safely posting questionable selfies, personal jokes, outfits they want advice on, and personal rants to close friends.

Thirsty

When someone is trying too hard for attention, they may be called out for being thirsty. Thirst is an undesirable quality, as it can signify desperation or neediness.

For example, if you text your crush and get upset when they don’t respond back within ten minutes, you might be a little thirsty. Maybe you need some milk?

Draking

Draking describes the feelings of sadness or melancholy you experience while listening to an emotional song. And, of course the term comes from Drake, the sappy (but beautiful) Canadian rapper, and the feelings you get when listening to his music.

But, the term might also be used to explain life decisions, like in these texts: “I cried all night I swear I was draking” and “I didn’t mean to text you I was just draking.”

Throwing shade

Throwing shade is a sneaky way of putting someone down or criticizing them. Rather than attacking with full force, those who throw shade prefer a more subtle and artful approach.

It's the equivalent of talking smack behind someone’s back, a cunning way to disrespect your enemies while minimizing the risk of actually confronting them. Successful shade throwers depend on passive aggressive tactics to avoid direct conflict.

Roast

Roasting is the fine art form of insulting your friends over the internet. This is similar to traditional roasts, where attendees gather to playfully insult and joke about a special honoree.

On YouTube, the practice of harshly mocking or criticizing another channel’s content is considered roasting. Roasts that are mean-spirited can quickly evolve into cyber bullying or trolling, though.

“It’s just a prank!”

For the last couple of years, pranks have run rampant on YouTube. This has led some creators to fake or stage audacious pranks in pursuit of views and publicity. It’s just a prank! references an infamous fake prank video in which the pranksters end up crying and begging for mercy from the “unsuspecting” people they enrage.

This phrase is commonly used online as a humorous excuse or justification for behaving disrespectfully toward another person.

Firing shot

A firing shot is when someone says something that’s bound to offend another person. The comment isn’t nice, so it’s like a verbal bullet. Similarly, one might comment or say “Shots fired!” when it’s clear that some entertaining drama is about to unfold.

getty

Extra

You know what it means when you call someone too much, right? You mean to say they’re “excessively good or bad,” or that they’re prodigious or overwhelming. Well, there’s too much, and then there’s extra.

Extra is the level above “too much.” It’s hyperbole personified: melodrama, glitz, and extravagance all rolled into one. It’s that person who packs two checked suitcases and a carry-on for a weekend getaway. That friend who shows up to a casual lunch decked out like they’re headed to the red carpet? They’re being extra. (But, you know what? If you get the chance to be a little extra once in awhile, do it. It’s so much fun.)

Side hustle

A side hustle is something you do in your spare time to earn money, outside of your regular, full-time job. It can be blogging, selling crafts online, teaching calligraphy workshops . . . pretty much anything that pays, really.

Maybe you’re building up a brand, waiting for the day it generates enough income to let you quit your day job and do it full time. Maybe you plan for it to always be a thing you do on the side. The beauty of the side hustle is that it can be as big or small as you want it to be.

On fleek

On fleek was coined in 2014 by a teenage girl named Kayla Newman (known online as "Peaches Monroee"), who uploaded a Vine video pointing out how perfect her eyebrows looked.

Today, on fleek applies to much more than brows: It's any instance of flawless styling or grooming. Have you ever seen eyeliner so perfectly winged you want to cry? An outfit that looks amazing can also be described as on fleek. While it most often means "looking great" or "on point," it can also apply to non-fashion/makeup praise (e.g., "That song is on fleek!"). Maybe a term on its way out, it's still a notable one to include on this slang list.

Bae

Bae is an established slang word in our lexicon, but still worthwhile to add! It started out as an affectionate term used to address or refer to someone's significant other. It's equally at home in "I love you, bae," as it is in "Going to dinner with bae tonight 😍.“ (Want to see other ways millennials get romantic? Check out this new romance language.) 

What about when you see or hear something that you love so much you imagine if it were a person you'd totally date it? Well, you can more or less describe that as bae, too (e.g., "That suit is totally bae).

Low key/High key

Low key generally means “of reduced intensity, restrained, or understated.” A low-key dinner party is usually a casual one, with as few bells and whistles as possible. The slang meaning is related to this: When you say something like “I low key love that album,” you’re excited about it, but you don't want to draw attention to that fact for whatever reason. Or, maybe you’re just trying to play it cool.

High key, as you’ve probably guessed, is the exact opposite. If you high key love something, you’re openly and unabashedly excited about it.

Shook

I'm shook can be a way of saying you're "shaken up," in a good way or a bad way. It can mean you're confused, flabbergasted, or surprised by something (e.g., "This drugstore foundation looks way better than I thought it would. I'm so shook right now"). It can also mean you're agitated or disturbed mentally or physically (e.g., "The news lately has me shook ").

Basic

Calling someone basic is essentially calling them predictable or unoriginal. You're saying they blindly follow trends and have no individuality or style of their own.

The word tends to be used toward girls and young women most often because . . . internalized misogyny. It can also describe things like song lyrics, clothes, brands, or pretty much anything else that can have boring, cookie-cutter associations.

Feels

Feels are feelings but on another level. Think of your favorite song or movie. The one you have a lot of opinions about because it just speaks to your soul. The one you could gush about for hours at a time if given the chance. The one that makes you feel a lot of very strong, usually positive feelings.

In millennial-internet parlance, you could say that song or movie gives you all the feels.

Turnt

Turnt can mean someone is either "super excited and enthusiastic about something" (like a party), or it can mean they're "under the influence of alcohol or drugs."

The two meanings aren't mutually exclusive. One can get turnt while pregaming before heading to a club or while having a good time at the club itself.

Goals

Goals is pretty much what it sounds like. When you see someone or something out in the world that represents the kind of life you aspire to, that thing is goals. So, if you were to say "So-and-so's apartment is goals," it would mean their apartment was the kind of living space you hope to someday have.

You'll often see goals attached to other nouns, letting you know exactly which goal something reflects. When you see a couple with the kind of love you want to someday have in your life, you can say "That couple is relationship goals."

The new language of romance?

Millennials have coined a bunch of words, that's for sure. And, they've pretty much created their own dating language too. Check out the words of the new romance language for more modern slang.

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