*Our teen slang guide now updated for 2021 – more than 15 new slang terms added!
With 2020 soon to be behind us (let’s hope), more kids and teens are home and slang has never been happier! See our guide that has become the defacto standard for teen slang.
Many parents have no idea of the growing need for them to become “bilingual” when communicating with their tweens and teens. “Teen Slang,” the complex group of acronyms, innuendos, and code words is used freely among teenagers and their peers. However, what happens when parents have no clue what their teenager just said? Many slang terms are relatively harmless in and of themselves, but certain terms should instantly put up red flags for parents.
By learning our way around the tricky language of our teens we allow ourselves to not only build a stronger bond with them but also know when they’re in potential danger. Unfortunately, some slang is specifically designed to keep parents in the dark. In an interview with the popular morning news outlet, Today, some teens revealed important insider’s tips on what they’re actually saying.
See the most popular in the infographic below, or scroll down for the full list.
Fun and Harmless Teenage Slang
Teen slang allows our kids to communicate in a fun, interesting way among themselves. It gives them a sense of independence and individuality. This type of communication is often second nature and many teens don’t even notice the differences in their conversations. Some of the more harmless and funny expressions include terms such as:
- Bruh–A casual nickname for “bro”
- Fam–Their closest friends
- GOAT–Acronym for “Greatest of all time!”
- TBH–Acronym for “To be honest”
- It’s lit–Short for “It’s cool or awesome!”
- I’m weak–Short for “That was funny!”
- Hundo P–Short for 100% sure or certain
- Gucci–Something is good or cool
- FOMO–“Fear of missing out.”
- Squad–Term for their friend group
- Boots: This is a way to say “very” or “a lot.” It’s added after the verb or adjective.
- Woke: Highly aware of social issues.
- Savage: The cool way to say “cool.”
Teen Slang Terms to Keep an Eye on
While many expressions are innocent and even hilarious some should catch our eye as parents. They are not necessarily wrong, but they show that your teen may be involved in activities that require more maturity and advice from you as their parent. Many warning expressions involve dating or interest in new relationships. Some of these terms also reveal that your teen is experiencing some type of emotional turmoil or stress within their friendships or lifestyle. While you may not necessarily need to intervene, it’s always wise to at least be aware of what your teen is experiencing.
- Bae–Short for “baby.” It’s used as a term of endearment for a significant other such as a girlfriend or boyfriend. As an acronym, it stands for “Before Anyone Else.
- Curve–To reject someone romantically
- Low-Key–A warning that what they’re saying isn’t something they want everyone to know
- Hi-Key–The opposite of Low-Key. It highlights something that one hopes not be known.
- Salty–To be bitter about something or someone
- Skurt–To go away or leave
- Throw shade–To give someone a nasty look or say something unpleasant about them.
- Straight fire–Something is hot or trendy
- Sip tea–To mind your own business
- Ship –Short for “relationship.”
- Ghost–To ignore someone on purpose.
- Avocado–Used to describe a person, who is socially construed as straight by those around him/her, but in actuality is gay.
As a parent, you are rightfully concerned or suspicious when your teenager becomes secretive. They may “talk” a lot, but at the same time avoid actually saying anything revealing. In dangerous or high-risk situations, slang can become a good hiding place for your teen. When terms such as these appear in hushed conversations with friends or on their phone, be alert to oncoming danger for your child. Some of these dangerous terms even appeared in a special news report for CNN.
- Thirsty–Being desperate for something
- Down in the DM–Short for plans in their social media or texts for an oncoming sexual hook-up
- Smash–To have casual sex
- Netflix ‘n Chill–To meet under the pretense of watching Netflix/TV together when actually planning to meet for “making out” or sex
- NIFOC–Acronym for “Naked in front of their computer”
- CU46–Acronym for “See you for sex”
- POS–Parents Over Shoulder – usually done by teens in a text so be aware if you find them using.
- 9–Short for “A parent is watching!”
- GNOC–Acronym for “Get naked on camera!”
It’s rarely easy, but as parents, one of the most important ways to keep our teens safe is through consistent communication. Many horrible situations have evolved over the years in families where proper parent/teen communication was neglected. Although you may not always instantly understand everything your teen says, take the time to honestly ask them. Show your desire to understand and communicate. If all else fails, consult trusted sources or even slang dictionaries such as Urban Dictionary where many modern slang terms appear.
Sometimes there may be a reason where parents may want to limit or completely disable texting or calling. Apple does not provide a process to block either, although Netsanity does show parents how they can mirror iMessages in this blog. However, for parents who have Samsung smartphones and tablets, they have more options when using Netsanity.
The internet and its social media sub-world change on a near day-to-day basis. Trends pop up and fall away before some parents even realize they existed. In a world where some of these trends can be risky or downright dangerous (like the recent and devastating Blue Whale Challenge), it’s essential for parents to stay aware of what their teenagers are doing online.
Trends to Watch
Though Facebook is the most popular social media platform overall, and the one you’re most likely to be used as an adult, Snapchat and Instagram are the most popular among teenagers.
The unique issue with Snapchat is that photos are shared and disappear within a certain amount of time, which can make it challenging for a parent to keep track of what their kids are sharing. This can give teenagers a boost of confidence to post photos they might not otherwise, but the recipients only need to take a screenshot for that photo to live on and be shared on other platforms.
Here are some other social apps to keep an eye on:
Kik: This is a free messenger app that can be used innocently enough to send messages to friends. However, “…Kik has also gained quite the reputation for being a sexting platform, primarily among strangers looking for someone to hook up with.”
Confession Sites: These include PostSecret, Secret, and Whisper, where users anonymously post secrets and confessions, which, of course, may or may not be true. The potential problem lies here: “Often PostSecrets are twisted or sexual in nature. While some secrets may lead to meaningful conversations about various life topics, most secrets are too complex to be read and discerned by minors.”
Badoo: Common Sense Media says this adults-only dating app doesn’t monitor the content; therefore, a lot of sexual material is present.
Other Dating and Hook-Up Apps: As with any online forum, it’s easy for teenagers to lie about their birthdays in order to bypass the need for parental approval or join an adults-only community. Take a look at this list of popular apps where the focus is on casual sexual encounters. These include Wild, Feeld, and Casualx.
Up and Coming
Entrepreneur mentions the growing popularity of digital hangouts via Tik Tok: “It is primarily used by Gen Z as a way to hang out with friends digitally. The platform is so successful that Facebook is reportedly investigating ways to create a similar functionality within its platform.”
The article also says to watch for more live streaming and augmented reality, as well as a continuation of influencer marketing. This is something to pay attention to since your teens might follow certain social media celebrities who promote a variety of products because of their agreements with the companies who make those products. They’re called “influencers” for a reason, so keep track of the ones your teens are following.
Internet Slang to Look for in 2021!
Teenagers speak a different language online (some of which might spill over into the real world), and keeping up with those teen slang terms and emojis can give you insight into what your child is doing on the internet. Here are some new slang words to look for in 2021:
- Thicc— Looking good in your skin no matter your size or shape.
- I’m dead— You seem to be laughing so hard about something that you are “dying” of laughter.
- Heard— A deep understanding of a topic being discussed.
- Finna— Means “going to” or “intend on” doing something.
- Fire— Something is “really good” or “cool”
- Flex— Someone “Showing Off” or a “Show off.” “He is Flexing on Snapchat with his new car”
- Big Yikes— It’s yikes, but bigger. Kids are using that to highlight something extra big.
- Low-Key— Another way of using the term “sort of”
- LMIRL— Let’s Meet In Real Life. Be careful if you hear this especially as it can be used by younger kids in talking with strangers
- Boujee— Rich or Acting rich
- Shook–Teens may mention if they have been shaken by news or event.
- CD9— Like a trucker on the walkie-talkie radio; breaker, breaker. CD9 means Code 9, translated to “I can’t talk – parents are here.”
- AF— Term used in a sentence abbreviated for the term “as f#@#”
- OG— Used these days as a quick way to say “original” or “original gangster”
- Extra— Describes over the top or dramatic behavior.
- Cap — Lying
- No Cap–Equivalent to “for real”
- Basic— Used as a non-complimentary way to say someone is only interested in trendy or popular things.
- Period— Emphasizing finality. I am done with her – ” Period”.
- Simp— A guy who will do anything for a hot girl.
- Yeet— A very strong word for yes.
- Snack— A way to describe an attractive male or female.
- Snatched— A way to teens refer to someone or something as obtained. “I love Sam”, He is snatched.
- Dank— Something “really good”.
- Sus— Suspicious. May be related to drama in school or amongst friends.
- Spilling or Spil The Tea— Spilling the beans; tell me everything.
- Swole— Extremely buff or physically fit.
- Swell— Work Out
- Slay— Being awesome at something. “Man, you slayed that shot.”
- Turnt Up— The act of getting drunk and high to the highest degree.
- Left me on read— When on Snapchat someone opens your snap and doesn’t snap back.
- OC–Open Crib, meaning no parents will be at home or at a gathering or party.
Research from 2015 indicated the prevalence of “secret hashtags” used to connect teenagers who engage in self-harming or other self-destructive behavior, and this recent Parents article says the practice is alive and well. These hashtags include the following:
- #sue: suicide
- #deb: depression
- #ana: anorexia
- #thinsp: thinspiration (photos or messages that “inspire” an effort to become thin)
- #svv: self-harming behavior
“Fitspiration” emerged as a response to “thinspiration,” focusing on photos and messages that promoted fit, healthy lifestyles as opposed to a “thin at all costs” attitude. However, both can hurt your child’s self-esteem if she starts to feel as though she can’t measure up to those standards.
How to Stay On Top of the Trends & Terminology
Changes happen fast, so you have to be faster. Here are a few tips for staying aware of online trends and how your teen uses the internet.
- Bookmark Urban Dictionary: This handy site gives you the definitions for the slang terms you see on your child’s social profiles.
- Set Google Alerts: Google lets you set news alerts for a term of your choice; every day, you can receive an email with news items relating to that term. For example, you could set a “social media” alert and get a list of articles about the latest social media updates without doing weekly searches for what you might be missing about new apps and sites, trending hashtags or campaigns, and more.
- Block Dangerous Sites: At Netsanity, we offer trustworthy parental controls that you can depend on to work so that you can block questionable material like hook-up apps, pornographic websites, and any new social media apps you don’t want your child to use.
- Limit Internet Usage: The more time a child spends online, the more time he has to explore new online interests. Using parental controls to disable the internet during certain hours of the day allows (or forces) your child to spend an appropriate amount of time with his family, doing homework, or sleeping. It also means less online time with which to get curious and start digging through the internet.
- Communicate: By keeping an open line of communication with your child, you encourage her to speak up about questionable material she sees or experiences online. It also opens the door for you to ask, “What’s that?” and get an honest answer when you hear mention of a new app or behavior.
This is a good place to start but remember: the internet is changing even as you read this. Keep doing your homework to keep your child protected from emerging risks!
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