Are These Slang Words Already Old?

In today, out tomorrow. Language is always evolving, and nowhere does this seem more apparent than in slang. Each year, each month, heck, even each day it seems like we're introduced to some trendy new slang term.

Now, slang is famously unrecorded and short-lived. It doesn't always pass the test of time. Is anyone saying (at least unironically) "excellent!"(à la Bill and Ted), the cat's meow (1920s slang) or tubular (1980s slang)? A quick sociolinguistics lesson here: slang also begins in an in-group, often as a way of signaling its identity in distinction to an out-group. Sometimes that slang spreads and thrives in the mainstream, such as bad and cool (which are much, much older than you may realize).

Bur other times, as soon as slang is issued from the mouths of parents trying to sound hip or is discussed as "what the kids are saying these days" on the nightly news—well, RIP OK boomer.

The internet and social media seem to be generating and bringing to our attention new slang terms like never before. At the same, some slang terms have so much sudden time in the spotlight that we've made them into one-hit wonders. So, let's look into our slang crystal ball: will these recent slang terms go the way of the cat's meow, or will they be sticking around for the time being?

WATCH: Words That The Internet Has Changed

on fleek

Back in 2014, you couldn't go on the internet or pass the local high school without hearing someone say on fleekIt all started when Kayla Newman (better known as Peaches Monroee) recorded a video of herself praising her handiwork on her eyebrows. "Eyebrows .... On fleek!"

No one knows exactly where she got the word, but it went completely viral. The video was shared countless times across Vine, Twitter, and Facebook. Soon, anything that was groomed to perfection was described as on fleek. For example: My hair is on fleek today, or Girl, your outfit is on fleek!! Sometime in 2015, however, it seems like we squeezed all the life out of on fleek.

The phrase on point is a perfect synonym for on fleek, and one you're more likely to see nowadays. If you need even more help describing something that looks great, you can also describe it as flawless, snatched, or fire. Will on fleek be fleek again?

WATCH: Why Was The Phrase "On Fleek" So Popular?

YOLO

Did YOLO only live once?

Actually, no. This acronym for you only live once is first recorded in the 1960s, but it wasn't until 2012 that we all went ham on it.

2012 was the year when, by simply saying this acronym, you were absolved of any guilt from your bad decisions. You only live once, right? The power of YOLO was never destined to last long.

Actor Zac Efron potentially made YOLO a worldwide phenomenon because of a tattoo he got on his hand. Once a picture of his infamous tat was spotted, everyone started joking about how YOLO was the Millennial's way of  saying the Latin phrase carpe diem, or "seize the day." Rapper Drake also used it in a song in 2011, cementing YOLO in the collective conscience of pop culture.

It was everywhere on social media, whether you wanted to see it or not. But as suddenly as it caught fire, did we burn it out? (Did Zac quietly remove his tattoo?)

YOLO is a good example of how 1) slang is always older than you think and 2) a word can be massively popular and the fizzle out. Using YOLO today can make you sound dated—or, more generously, nostalgic for the early 2010s.

Becky

There are few first names that, when you hear them, embody the personality and actions of a human being. What comes to mind when you hear Becky? If a snooty, white, blonde woman is what you picture, you can thank 2016, the year Beyoncé dropped her album Lemonade ... and revived Becky.

You see, Becky was used by rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot in the 1992 song "Baby Got Back." This immensely popular hit solidified the Becky archetype. Then Beyoncé famously used Becky to call out another woman in the line "He better call Becky with the good hair." This fresh take on the slang carried on through the late 2010s, as Becky was used, especially among Black people, to call out those who displayed obvious racial bias, especially over trivial matters.

Since then, has Becky been dethroned by her close counterpart, Karen? Karen, while close in definition to a Becky, is usually a middle-aged white woman criticizing people on the internet and speaking to many a manager.

extra

Extra could be a compliment or the worst insult, a word to accentuate or tear down the vibe you're going after. What's considered the good kind of extra? Maybe dressing up for an occasion that didn't merit such an outfit. What's the bad kind of extra? Having a really loud fight with your significant other at a party over something trivial. Definitely extra.

Now, we're not proclaiming that extra is dead forever. It definitely isn't! But when extra was at the height of its popularity in the late 2010s, it seemed like every sentence needed it. We all got a little extra about using extra. This new meaning of extra as a synonym of "over the top" made way for slang that might sound a little bit more contemporary, like doing the most.

epic fail

Although epic fail is reserved for failures of spectacular proportions, this word sure got used a lot in 2009. Originally, an epic fail was a hilarious foible, especially if you messed up something mundane and small.

Epic fail emerged from internet message boards like 4chan in 2008, coming into internet culture at large by 2009 and 2010. It appeared as the title of an episode on the hit medical drama House! It appeared in memes, it was shouted out by bros playing video games when someone would mess up, and it was even the title of many video compilations of people performing some truly epic fails.

By the late 2010s, as social media evolved, it seemed we pumped the brakes on epic fail compilations—an epic win on our part?

bro

Remember that period of time when every word was altered to accommodate the word bro? Like brochacho, broism, brocabulary, brofessional? Yeah, that brocabulary would have taken a lot of time to catalogue!

The word bro, short for brother, has been used for quite some time by men to refer to friends and, you know, actual family members, in a cordial way. It's nice to be called a bro by your bro! But use of the word bro to refer to a specific type (usually white) was in the zeitgeist in the 2000s.

From bro, we got the words broism and the phrase bro culture. Bro culture came to describe a stereotype of the bro. A bro was someone, most likely a young man attending college, who loved fraternizing with his friends, tailgating, attending parties, and watching sports on Sunday afternoons. Some have drawn parallels between surf culture and bro culture.

Do you think we overdid it on labeling every bro under the sun as some kind of bro? Do we need to give bros a break? I guess we'll have to see their brovolution.

TFW (That Feeling When)

TFW was the subject of many memes back in its heyday in the 2010s, especially on the likes of Reddit and 4chan. This is an abbreviation that means that feeling when and was used widely by meme-makers to convey relatable feelings, like tfw no gf or tfw no new text messages. The year 2009 birthed a recognizable meme: the creepy-ish feels guy.

Have we lost all our feelings for TFW? Do our slang affections now lie in the likes of big mood?

yeet

Rounding out this list of slang that is on its way out is yeet. Yes, yeet means many things but it's also unique in that its usage seems to ebb and flow. With every new usage for the word people come up with, it resurfaces from the depths of the internet to grace our screens again.

Yeet is an exclamation of surprise or excitement. It's also used as a verb for throwing something across the room at a high velocity (e.g., I yeeted that fly right out my bedroom window). It's also a dance move. It's also something to say when nothing else fits in your sentence. Do you see the appeal of the word now?

Though it was in use since at least 2008, the word gained popularity with the 2014 viral dance, especially the version by a kid dubbed Lil Meatball.

In the late 2010s, yeet was still at it, expanding as an exclamation of joy or excitement. It was everywhere, from memes to YouTube. It was even declared runner-up Slang/Informal Word of the Year by the American Dialect society in 2019!

As of 2020, yeet has yet to resurface with the popular fervor it did in the mid-2010s. Did we yeet yeet, chucking it into the lexical trashcan because we wore it out? Or will yeet rise to yeet again?

Ya yeet!