Slang dictionary

gen pop

[jen pop]

What does gen pop mean?

Gen pop, short for general population, is a prison term for the main body of prisoners that haven’t been segregated into special housing for disciplinary or protective measures.  Gen pop is also used to mean “the mainstream” outside prison contexts.

Related words

jump out boys, Corrlinks and JPay, CorrLinks

Where does gen pop come from?

The Black Detour

The term general population appears by the 1700s, referring to the common, regular people of a given place or nation. In the 20th century, general population came to refer to people of average income and education levels. Psychologists and educators came to use general population to refer to individuals who don’t have special needs, e.g., developmental or learning disabilities.

General population was naturally shortened to gen. pop. (or gen pop) as early as the 1960s.

Gen pop would eventually emerge as a term for the general population of a prisonprisoners who live in the main cell block of a prison and who haven’t been separated from other prisoners due to discipline, protection, or violence.

Global Risk Insights

Gen pop’s popularity rose in the 2000s thanks to hit, prison-based TV shows like Prison Break (2005–17) and Orange is the New Black (2013–present). The terms’s use also surged thanks in part to certain high-profile celebrity incarcerations, such as the 2018 arrest of controversial rapper Tekashi69 (6ix9nine), who was sentenced to serve some time in a Brooklyn prison’s gen pop.

Examples of gen pop

i notice when gen pop is impressed with a moment in an actor’s performance it’s usually one where they’re screaming or crying
@cammatthew_s, January 2019
But when it comes time for inmates to be released into gen pop, only Daya and Mendoza make it out. Thanks to her murder plea, Daya is sent to D block. Mendoza goes to C. “C for cheerful,” she grunts. “Positive thinker!” says self-help enthusiast CO Copeland. Blanca remains in administrative segregation and is not thinking positively about it.
Tara Ariano, Vulture, July 2018
Ball Memes

Who uses gen pop?

As noted, prison staff, inmates, and their loved ones may use gen pop when a person is in the general population of a prison, i.e., not in special housing.

Outside of prison, the mainstream public use gen pop, who sometimes get special housing due to their status.

If they are in the gen pop, it’s remarked, the celebrity will get a real taste of reality when facing the main body of prisoners. Sex offender and comedian Bill Cosby, for instance, was moved to the gen pop in February 2019, where he will be treated the same as other inmates.

Online, where abbreviations are common, gen pop may refer to “the mainstream,” who may not understand the nuances of a particular community.

Queer people may refer to heterosexual, cisgender society as the gen pop, in the same way that underground hip-hop fans may refer to popular culture writ large as gen pop.

Educators, psychologists, marketers, and demographers may also use gen pop for general populations in their respective fields.

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Swiftie, BFFR, gyatt, vibecession, boyfriend air


This is not meant to be a formal definition of gen pop like most terms we define on, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of gen pop that will help our users expand their word mastery.