We decode over 20 essential millennial slang phrases your teens and tweens are using
Just like fashion, beauty or style has its seasons, language has its trends. And believe us, nothing will make you feel more lost or irrelevant than if you’re unable to decipher what millennials are talking about (or texting about, or posting on Instagram, more likely). New slang terms come up every so often and we need to keep up to know what our kids are saying! Plus, with the Oxford English Dictionary adding terms like “cray” (short for “crazy”) and “YOLO” (“you only live once”) to the official English language, it’s only right that we keep on top of pop slang. (Bonus tip: acronyms aren’t usually typed in all caps anymore.)
We enlisted resident millennial and fleeky AF Syaz to translate and let us (and now you!) know what all the cool kids are saying…
Yaassss (no definite number of a’s or s’s) is another way to say yes, but with added amounts of punch and enthusiasm. It’s mostly used to support a thought, comment or to agree on a statement, and originated from drag queen culture.
How to use it: “Yaassss, we’re so having ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
I can’t even
Ever been so speechless that you just can’t find the words? “I can’t even” is an expression commonly used when someone is feeling either so overjoyed or exasperated that they can’t even find the right words, depending on the context. May also be accompanied by collapsing in total exasperation.
How to use it: “Everything that could go wrong today actually went wrong today. I can’t even.”
Sorry not sorry
“Sorry not sorry” is a phrase used when you’re not really sorry or apologetic for a mistake that someone thinks you’re making. You don’t even think you should be apologising, but do it anyway. The term is often used as a hashtag too.
How to use it: “Don’t hate on me because I’m too sassy for you. #sorrynotsorry.”
This term has been around for years now but still makes its rounds. “On fleek” (you may also now see it as ‘fleeky’) refers to something that’s perfect or on point. So if someone says that your outfit or makeup is ‘on fleek’, accept the compliment graciously! It’s also often used to describe one’s eyebrows.
How to use it: “Girl, your brows are on fleek!” OR “Girl, your brows are so fleeky!
As if we’re not lazy enough, we have to shorten all our words into acronyms. TBH is short for “to be honest” and is usually used when making a comment or a joke.
How to use it: “Planning this birthday party is gonna drain me tbh.”
Bae is short for “before anyone else.” It usually refers to a significant other and could be argued as a term shortened from “babe”. These days, girls have been using this term to describe their close gal pals, too. Or really anything that you hold near and dear to your heart (a glass of wine, a sandwich, your iPad, what have you).
How to use it: “Bae surprised me with breakfast in bed today. I wonder what he really wants.” or “Pizza is bae.”
AF is an acronym for “as f*ck”. Often used as an adjective to emphasise and exaggerate a statement.
How to use it: “My daughter broke my favourite highlighter today. I’m mad af.”
An acronym for “the f*ck”. Sometimes used to abbreviate “wtf” (seriously, how lazy are we?!).
How to use it: *while texting* “Our daughter just broke my most expensive makeup item tf.”
“Exciting” or “amazing.”
How to use it: “This is my favourite song, it’s about to be lit!” OR “The concert last night was so lit!”
How to use it: “As much as I love how this new diet is making me feel, I low key can’t wait for cheat day.”
Don’t worry, we weren’t sure how to pronounce this too when we first encountered it! Luckily it’s just an abbreviated way to say, “why though?” in a confused/frustrated/sarcastic manner. AKA saying, “Why?!” in exasperation.
How to use it:
Baby: *laughs, burps then pukes all over you*
You: “Y tho”
You know you can always count on someone on the hip-hop scene to come up with cool phrases. “Turnt” (verb: turn up) was coined by Wiz Khalifa and literally means to party hard and go all out.
How to use it: “Are you going for the music festival this weekend? I can’t wait to get turnt.” OR “We’re sooo getting drinks and turning up tonight.”
Ru Paul’s Drag Race fans would have heard this term many a time on the show. It’s a sassier way of saying ‘okay’ in an agreeable manner, or to end off a mic drop-worthy statement.
How to use it: “I haven’t had a night out in so long so I’m letting my hair down tonight and there’s nothing you can do about it, okurrr!”
Meaning ‘well-informed’ or used to describe someone who’s aware of the current social/political climate.
How to use it: “Did you watch that video of Jaden Smith reading mind-blowing facts about the universe? He’s woke af.”
As described by Ellen Degeneres to mean “had not paid attention to”, “sleeping on” was most recently introduced to the general public on television by American ice skater Adam Rippon. Here you can see the term in action as he passionately describes how he had not noticed before how cute Shawn Mendes actually was.
How to use it: “I was sleeping on how awesome Sai Kung is.”
Originating from Eminem’s iconic song of the same name, “stan” is the term used for the obsessive fans of a popular celebrity. It can also be used as a verb.
How to use it: “I’m a Beyoncé stan.” OR “I will stan Beyoncé forever!”
If you see someone commenting, “Slay, Mama!” on your latest Instagram post, don’t freak out – it’s a compliment! The word’s additional meaning has been added to the Oxford dictionary and defined as to “be extremely impressive, stylish, or successful”. Synonym: “work” or “werk”.
How to use it: “Wow you are really slaying in those shoes!”
Don’t take offence if your teen decides to call one of their idols ‘mom’ or ‘dad’. It just means to admire or look up to someone so much that you jokingly want to be adopted by them or have them as your second (third?) parent. Totally normal.
How to use it: “Omg MOM ” (usually in an Instagram comment or Twitter reply)
Meaning “gossip”, “scoop” or “news”, “tea” is not just your average afternoon beverage anymore.
How to use it: “So what happened last week? Spill the tea.”
Desperate, usually for attention.
How to use it: “Be careful not to post too many selfies on the same day, or you’re gonna end up looking thirsty.”
Bitter or upset.
How to use it: “Did my toddler really just roll her eyes at me? She must be salty that I ate the last donut.”
Diss. Also: throwing shade; being shady.
How to use it: “Boss was totally throwing shade at you during our meeting today.”
Surprised or shocked.
How to use it: “Omg, can’t believe I managed to cook tonight and be in bed before 9! I’m shook!”
Fear Of Missing Out.
How to use it: “I couldn’t make it to Clockenflap and had major FOMO.”
‘Good Game’. Commonly used to describe a losing situation.
How to use it:
Mom: *applying mascara
Kid accidentally hits her arm and causes mascara to smear all over eyelids*
‘In Real Life’.
How to use it: “After following her on IG for so long I finally got to met her IRL!”