Generation Z

[ jen-uh-rey-shuhn zee ]
/ ˈdʒɛn əˈreɪ ʃən ˈzi /

noun

the generation born in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

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Origin of Generation Z

First recorded in 2010–15; patterned on Generation Y
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

VOCAB BUILDER

What does Generation Z mean?

Generation Z is the name for the generation of children after the millennials, born in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Where does Generation Z come from?

Generations have been identified, grouped together, studied, and given trendy little names since the 1800s, through the exact age boundaries of a generation—and its name—don’t tend to stick until many years after the generation has come of age.

Generation Z is the generation born after millennials, though the exact “after” date varies depending on who you ask: some include kids born in the late 1990s as Generation Z, while others only include children born after 2005.

The term Generation Z is based on the term Generation X (people born roughly between 1960–1980). Following this example, children born between the 1980s and the 2000s were often called Generation Y until the name millennials was coined by Neil Howe and William Strauss. Millennials were casually referred to as Generation Y for long enough that the succeeding group of post-2000s children started to be called Generation Z. The term started gaining ground in the late 1990s and early 2000s while the Gen Zers themselves were still in diapers.

Interest in the term Generation Z has dramatically risen in the 2010s, which isn’t surprising, as the babies are entering adulthood and are being increasingly targeted by marketers or discussed as a demographic group.

How is Generation Z used in real life?

A member of Generation Z is called a Gen Zer. The term is widely and generally used in public discourse as well as in academic studies and marketing research and reports. Though Generation Z is currently the leading name for the post-millennial generation, there’s a good chance they will be renamed later on. For example, they have also been called the iGeneration or iGen and the Homeland Generation.

Generation Z is still young, and they haven’t yet received the same bombardment of stereotypes that millennials have today (which Generation X dealt with in the past). It’s too early to make any presumptions about what Generation Z will be like when they get older, though common experiences shared between Gen Zers include having spent their childhood in a post-9/11 world and growing up with smartphones and social media. They’re perceived to be excellent multitaskers. Socially and politically, they’ve been referred to as “millennials on steroids,” exhibiting many of the same progressive beliefs regarding globalization, inclusion, technology, and religion.

More examples of Generation Z:

“I recently spent four months in the classroom with the first wave of Generation Z students to reach the shores of the university where I teach.”
—John Schlimm, HuffPost, January, 2018

Note

This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

Example sentences from the Web for Generation Z