Teen Slanguage

So XUP Jr. is free from school for a couple of months and will be heading into her final year of high school in September. Oh my.

Another couple of years and she won’t even be a teenager anymore. As much as I was dreading the teen years, and despite some of the high drama, it’s actually been a lot of fun so far.

It’s fun because it makes me feel old and young at the same time. I’m so often reminded of my own teen years because there is so much that never seems to change from one generation of teenagers to another.

We oldies like to shake our fists and curse-out “kids today,” but essentially they’re not all that much different than we were at their age. The drama, the hormones, the parties, the hair and clothes, the music, the frustrations with school and parents – they may have a different hue and tone, but it’s all the same basic stuff.

As is the language. Teenagers have always developed a language of their own to define their culture. A lot of it comes from the music of their generation. A lot of it is just new ways of defining old words.

Some teen slang has staying power and survives forever. The word “cool,” for example. It was first used to mean “hip” or “fashionable” way back in the 1930s and was introduced by the Black jazz culture. Beatniks adopted it decades later and it’s still very current with teenagers and other “agers” today.

Some, teen slang (thankfully) fades away with the generation that brought it into the language. You don’t hear “groovy” much anymore.

Anyway, these days there are all the new text and chat acronyms which make their way into vocal conversations:

“O.M.G. mother! I am so N.G.T.!!”

“What? What? Why are you talking in letters that don’t spell anything? I was asking you something important! In English!”

Her response meant she was a little embarrassed by the conversation and was not really interested in discussing it further (so Not Going There).

So from this and many other discussions between us and overheard discussions between her and her friends, I’ve been compiling a little Dictionary of  Teen Slanguage. It needs to be updated almost weekly because many of the terms and expressions lose their cool pretty fast.

Emo, for instance is seldom heard anymore in the little teen society we inhabit. It’s old. It’s passé – both the word and the lifestyle.

Almost everything was once “random,” (So then he just assigned us this totally random homework thing) , but it’s becoming a lot less so these days. I guess as teens get older they realize life is a lot more deliberate than originally thought.

Although we oldies have just recently caught on to “epic” and “uber” and “wicked” and “sweet” as hip new adjectives,  I’m afraid they are also well on their way back to wherever they came from.

To express the coolness of something,  “sick” is still in use, but “ill” is much hipper and “dope” and “stupid” or “duke” are pretty cool, too. (Note: “Hip” has not actually been in current teen usage since the 1960s)

The other day, the kids were talking about bowling the night before and one of the guys said, “Oh ya, she totally raped me.”

“What? What?” said I, once again dumbfounded. “Someone raped you while you were bowling?”

They all laughed because apparently, “getting raped” now just means getting severely beaten in a game or sport of some sort.

I couldn’t help myself from pointing out that I thought this was a highly inappropriate use of the term because it diminishes a word that really means something quite horrible.

They all nodded and pretended to listen to what I was saying. One of them said, “Just because we use the word like that doesn’t mean we don’t know that rape is bad.” To which I asked them how they thought someone who actually had been raped would feel when they heard that word being used to mean a fun and friendly competition.

Anyway, I’m hoping that phrase doesn’t have too much of a lifespan.

I’ve also noticed that most of our beloved four-letter words, which we reserve to make really important points, are part of every day lingo , (though in really bizarre contexts), when teens are talking amongst themselves. It makes me wince to hear my sweet, innocent child asking a friend, “What? Is my dick too long for your liking?”

I have no idea what that was supposed to mean and I was too tired to ask.

However, here are some other words in this week’s Teen Slanguage Dictionary for which I have figured out the meaning and which you may or may not already know:

A holla back girl – is a doormat, a girl who lets herself get used by guys

Baked – high on some illicit substance

Beast – someone who’s really good at something

Booking it – This has absolutely nothing to do with reading. It means to take off or run away or even hurrying

Boom – great or amazing

Cap – to insult

Creeper – a wierdo

Crunk – if a party was “crunk” it means it was a good ‘crazy drunk”

Don’t jock my swag/swagger/swagga – don’t copy my style (also: don’t steal my swag/swagger/swagga)

Jacked – stole

Kickin’ – being cool or relaxing

Trippin’ – to over-react (something I apparently do ALL the time)

User – a friend who only hangs with you to get something

The V Card – which you may want to hold, fold or play (virginity)

Whack – crazy

Wangsta – (one of my faves) a person who tries to act cool, but ain’t

Weak – something “lame”; something that sucks.

*****  It should be noted that this dictionary is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Under no circumstances should anyone over the age of 21 (unless you’re a rap singer or SYTYCD judge) make use of these words, terms or expressions in normal conversation.

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32 responses to “Teen Slanguage

  1. i heard my 15 yr old niece use the “rape” reference last week and totally lost it on her. i don’t think i’m the cool aunt anymore.

    i’ve tried to use a couple of these terms. you’re right. anyone over the age of 21 just sound silly. though i still like “snap!” when did i get so uncool?

  2. Sounds like most of those terms are from hip hop/urban culture, which is very popular with kids nowadays. Or was, I’m not sure. It seems that now they are all obsessed with blatant teeny-crap now like Twilight, Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus and aren’t as into rap stuff. But who knows? I hated teen trends even when I was a teen.

  3. I love Don’t jock my swag

    It seems baked has been around for quite a while. It’s been my term of choice for a long time. Maybe I was cool before it was actually a cool term?

    Typically me, cool before it was actually cool. Damn, I’ve never had a cool day in my life.

  4. Smothermother – Ya, I don’t know who decided, “getting raped” was a good way to express being defeated in a game. I had quite a discussion with my daughter afterwards about it too. I don’t expect to hear it from her ever. “Snap”???? That was cool at some point??? Ha ha.

    Pauline – The Twilight, Bieber, Cyrus gang are the “tweens”. No one 15 or over would be caught dead liking Bieber or Cyrus. Some of them still like Twilight and other vampire related stuff.

    Jazz – Ya, next time I see you wearing the same thing I’m wearing I’m like, totally gonna diss you for jocking my swagga! Also, “baked” might just be making a revival from some previous era.

    Dr. Monkey – Hot damn, you are one hep cat, daddy-o!

  5. Ugh. I hate the rape one.
    I can’t wait to embarass my girls with some of my fave expressions that I just can’t let go of.

  6. ….apparently am prone to hitting the enter key prematurely. I was going to say that I hear ‘groovy’ quite often. But that’s because we have a lot of Scooby Doo shows/movies on DVD. 🙂

  7. Maybe they’ll get the point about the ‘rape’ one if you hit ’em where it hurts. Any of them lose a parent? Try this:

    Them: “Man, Joe totally raped me at wii bowling last night!”

    You: “Yeah, he really killed your mom!”

    Of course, analogies were never very up there with teenagers…

    – RG>

  8. Meanie – Why wait? Don’t tell me they’re not old enough to be embarrassed by you yet? You’re just not trying hard enough then!

    Alison – Ya, the cool stuff starts with the older teens and 20-somethings and filters up and down to the very young and the very old. Of course, it trickles down a lot faster than it oozes its way up to us dag-nabbit.

    Grouchy – I think “your mom” is already a cool response to a lot of unrelated stuff. (e.g.: Person One: “I totally killed at wii bowling last night” Person Two: “Your mom”) That reminds me of a time I was cool. One day my daughter and I were walking along and one of those cool young squeegee type guys was wandering around picking up cigarette butts. Just as he got to us he found an almost whole cigarette on the ground and smiled to himself. When he looked up, I said to him in passing: “Score!” He nodded back at me and said “Total Score!” That exchange so impressed the hell out of my daughter that she still talks about it.

    Dave – So You Think You Can Dance. Like, OMG! Have you, like, been living under a rock, or what? The judges on that show are super-hip cool rockin’. They tell the dancers stuff like how totally BUCC they were – which is a word that is even too cool for teenagers to say, by the way.

  9. That’s the whole point of using the expression “raped”.

    It’s shocking and unpleasant to the older crowd (us).

    Therefore, all teens are morally obligated to use it.

    Like, Duh.

  10. I’m pretty sure the usage of “your mom” refers to having sex with her, thereby causing discomfort to the recipient of the comment. Referring to a dead parent is rather different.

    (Also, speaking as someone whose mother is deceased, “my mother’s dead” a universally useful and shocking comeback to any “your mom” joke. Stops ’em dead in their tracks.)

    – RG>

  11. God, I feel so old & uncool. Though I do say ‘jacked’ from time to time…a hold over from when I was young & somewhat cool, I guess. Of course, back in the olden days it referred to ‘messed up’ or ‘incorrect’.

    I think I’m glad I don’t have kids. I’m not that good at picking up on foreign languages.

  12. they actually still think I’m kind of cool and echo all kinds of good/bad things that I spout off. it will just take one friend raising an eyebrow or commenting on my geekiness, then let the embarassment begin!

  13. Friar – You’re so in tune with the young folk. I Know you’re probably right – although they wouldn’t use that expression around adults anyway…since we wouldn’t know what the hell they were talking about.

    Grouchy – Ya, I can see that. What a downer, Grouchman.

    Kimberly – There’s no need really for you to pick up this slanguage since, like I said, it changes constantly. Also, old people talking like that is considered extremely gross. So, really, you’re cool for not knowing and/or using that language. Wooot!

    LGS – NOOOOO! Whatever you do, don’t use teen language. They’ll beat you up.

    Meanie – Well take advantage of your rockin’ status while you still can. It changes suddenly, overnight almost. Actually, most of the time I manage to pass muster (visually anyway) – after she makes a few adjustments.

  14. @XUP

    “…although they wouldn’t use that expression around adults anyway…since we wouldn’t know what the hell they were talking about.”

    Ummm…isn’t that the whole POINT? 🙂

  15. “Whack” is old. Joey uses it on an episode of “Friends” to try to seem younger to get an acting part and “Friends went off the air in 2004. Maybe like “baked” it is making a comeback.
    I like “wangsta” too, it is far more PC than the version you usually hear.

  16. So do people still say ..keeping F**king with me and I am going to pop a cap up your ass? Or is that done with too? Just asking.

  17. They’re stealing vocabulary from the geek world. Epic’s been a geek thing since *I* was a teen–admittedly, not entirely that long ago. They used “epic fail” on CSI, once. Weak is also a geekish term–weak sauce, as a former coworker used to say. Same with uber. Now, if Xup JR starts using things like FTW (for the win), then you should be concerned. And make preparations–you’re probably about to have a geek kid on your hands.

  18. I am so behind times not to mention not cool or hip or anything. I’m not around teenagers at the moment either. When did I get so old?

  19. Friar – Right – I meant they wouldn’t use it when talking TO us.

    Geewits – Since everything else in this generation is recycled (movies, music, clothes, hairstyles, etc.) I wouldn’t be surprised if all these words were recycled from previous generations. I won’t ask what the unPC version of wangsta is.

    Cedar – Hi! I must say I haven’t heard that particular term, but then I don’t live in Jersey.

    Lebowski – I think in most cultures these days there is a certain amount of cross-cultural language blending. Even in France, which holds its language so sacred, there is a lot of English blended into the language these days.

    James – I wish I had a geek kid on my hands. Then I could retire comfortably knowing she’ll be able to look after me in my old age. Unfortunately, she’s an artsy with little or no interest and not all that much aptitude for the usual geek topics.

    Linda – You’re not so old – you’re just not THAT young. Teenagers are really, really young. Younger than you probably want to be, right? So, it’s all good.

  20. I think the key is to only use one term, every now and then. Don’t fill a sentence with them. I still do “valley girl” talk with my niece now and then. Like, totally. Like, occasionally, I use “wack” all by itself as a descriptor. Sparingly use the ones that you feel comfortable with and use them for effectiveness, as you did with “score”. One word, as punctuation.

  21. Wow, XUP. What incredible research! You should get this published. Oh, wait. It would be out of date immediately.

    Love it.

  22. I’m totally out of touch but then I don’t hang around teenagers that much, actually never LOL One thing hasn’t changed, they still don’t want anything to do with us the “older crowd” and they think they know everything and have invented it all.

    I predict that once they grow up and leave this phase they will realize just how stupid their usage of the word rape is. Unless one of their closest friend does get raped in which case, they will cry in horror every time someone around them uses it.

  23. Julia – Ya, see the real key is to wait until the teenagers stop using it and then you can use it. Then they think it’s cute. If you use it now they think you’re a weird old person who stalks teenagers and tries to get in with them by talking like them.

    Ellie – It would have to be an online dictionary that gets updated every day or so. Probably there already is one of those.

    Sylvie – Sadly, most of them have friends who have been raped. Somehow they don’t make that connection though.

  24. You forgot pwn as in “I totally pwned him”. It means own as in to beat someone in a video game. I have heard my daughter’s friends use this one.

  25. Jennifer – I haven’t heard that one, but according to Urb Dic it was accidentally invented by an online game that misspelled the word “owned” when it would congratulate a winner. I love it!

  26. i’ve always loved slang words and how they change and evolve. the “dick too long for you” has me puzzled. i just asked my daughter and she has no idea. i love this post, i’m glad you did this with examples 🙂

  27. Leah – I find slanguage is very localized, too. I hear things on the bus sometimes from kids from schools across town or from the catholic schools or from the french immersion schools and they all have their own dialect.