Is your teen suddenly dropping slang terms like “Gucci”, “creeper”, and “lit” into casual conversation? Or have you overheard your teen talking to their “squad” about someone who is “throwing shade”? Today, teen slang can seem like a completely different language. What do all of these foreign words mean? Often, teen slang is entirely harmless. But sometimes teens use their shared “lingo” to disguise the true topic of their conversation from adults and discuss potentially worrisome behavior “on the low”. As a parent, it’s not enough to just follow your teens on social media and set up parental controls on their iPhones. You absolutely need to be familiar with the most popular teen slang. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! My team and I have scoured the internet and interviewed over a dozen teens to assemble this ultimate guide to teen slang. With our help, you’ll be “woke” in no time—“no cap”.
Positive or Casual Teen Slang
Let’s start with the good stuff. These terms are life-affirming and innocent. When you hear this teen slang it usually mean there is nothing to worry about. Teens use adjectives like “fire”, ”savage”, and “on fleek”, to spice up their dialogue when they are talking about something or someone who is particularly cool.
- Fam – A tight group or a close friend.
- Lit / Fire / Gas – Great, fun, or exciting. Can be used to describe anything from parties to burritos.
- No Cap – Not kidding. “This place is great, no cap.”
- Bruh – Bro, or brother. Can be used in support or in astonishment to react to a friend.
- I’m weak / I’m dead – That’s hilarious!
- Hundo P – One Hundred Percent. Used to express agreement.
- Gucci – Good. Similarly, “What’s Gucci?” is used to ask what’s going on or how someone is doing.
- FOMO / JOMO – Fear (or Joy) of Missing Out. This is the emotion experienced when you are left out of a social situation.
- Glow Up – To transform in a beautiful way. Most often, this refers to growing up and becoming a more wonderful version of yourself.
- OG – Original Gangster. Meaning the original, or the first one.
- GOAT – The Greatest of All Time.
- AF – As Fuck. Immensely, or very much so.
- Bop – A great song, also known as a jam!
- Finna – Fixing to. “I finna’ get some dinner after this.”
- Fierce – Strong, empowered, or making a statement.
- Vibe – A certain feeling, frequently a positive or unique atmosphere.
- Squad – A close group of friends. “Squadding up” means getting together with friends.
- Woke – Socially aware, intelligent, or informed about an issue.
- Savage – Intense, no holds barred.
- Cop – To acquire, as in, “I went to the mall to cop some new threads (clothes).”
- Bet – A sure thing. Used as an affirmative response.
- On fleek – “On point” or very good, as in the perfect application of make-up or a great post on social media.
- Killing it – Doing very well, like “You got a 4.0 GPA this semester? Fam, you killing it!”
- Peep – To check out or look at. “Peep this video!”
Teen Slang to Watch Out For: This category of teen slang most likely has a negative connotation. But that doesn’t mean it’s a red flag. Sometimes, teens use this slang to complain about the social habits of others or spread gossip. Pay attention to the context when you hear your teen using these words.
- Low-Key / High-Key – Secretive / Obvious. This might mean your teen has something to hide.
- Salty – Being bitter or negative about something, or holding a grudge.
- Tea (Spilling versus Sipping) – Tea is term for gossip. “Spilling tea” refers to spreading gossip, while “sipping tea” means minding one’s own business.
- Shade – Negativity, hate, dislike. “Throwing shade” means insulting someone.
- Roasted – Embarrassed, teased, or made fun of.
- Creeper – Someone who makes you uncomfortable by hanging around or being invasive.
- Molly – The drug MDMA.
- X – Represents the drug Ecstasy.
- Turnt – Getting drunk or high.
- Tweaking – Highly energetic, agitated, or freaking out.
- Dex – Short for dextromethorphan, or DXM, a dissociative drug found in cough syrup that many teens abuse to get high.
- Sizzurp – A cocktail made of cough syrup and a soft drink such as grape soda. Also referred to as “Purple Drank” or “Lean”.
- Crossed / Crunk – Intoxicated with a mixture of marijuana and alcohol (you can “peep” my guide to underage drinking for more on teen alcohol use).
- Toasted – High on marijuana, or “baked”.
- Thot – That Ho Over There. An acronym that boils down to calling someone a whore.
- Sus – Suspect, dangerous, or suspicious.
- Jelly – Jealous.
- Finsta – A secret Instagram account. Often used to hide scandalous photos from adults.
- Trippin’ – Worrying about something. Conversly, “Don’t trip!” means there’s no need to stress.
Dating and Sex-Related Teen Slang:
Is your teen involved in a secret relationship? It can be hard to tell if you don’t know the lingo. Some of these words, like “bae”, come up often in a non-sexual way and might be benign. But if you start hearing more than a few terms from this list, there’s a good chance your teen is getting physically or emotionally involved with someone. Here’s some of the hottest teen slang used in the context of dating.
- Bae – Before Anyone Else. A short word for a loved one, commonly a significant other or best friend.
- Curve – To reject someone or “curve” the conversation away from flirting.
- Baddie – A “bad” girl or guy. Someone who is attractive and/or sexually forward.
- Ghost – To ignore someone on social media or in real life.
- Catfish – A fake online profile used for the purposes of dating.
- Thirsty – Another word for horny or wanting sex.
- Daddy – Used to describe a man as older, hairier, or stronger, with a sexual connotation.
- Dime – A perfect ten-out-of-ten, or someone who is very attractive. NOTE: a “dime bag” or a “dime” for short can also refer to $10 worth of marijuana or another drug.
- Thicc – A voluptuous woman, or someone with “thick” thighs and hips.
- DM – Direct Message on social media. This is often a first move in online flirting.
- Left on Read – When a text message has been read but not replied to.
- Netflix and Chill – “Hooking-up” under the pretext of watching a movie.
- Slow Fade – Gradually backing out of a relationship. Like “ghosting,” but more gradual.
- Smash – A word for casual sex.
- Ship – Relationship. “I’d ship it” means you support a relationship between two people.
Author Bio: Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.