Is this what the kids are saying these days?
June 29, 2016 9:40 AM   Subscribe

I've got a list of supposedly trending slang terms among the middle-to-high-school set, and I need to know whether it's accurate, especially for different regions of the U.S.

I'm working on a project for work that will show people what the cool kids are saying in their area. It's primarily aimed at people who work with kids in grades K-12. This is the list that's been compiled so far. Do you feel like these are relatively accurate? We'll be working with people in different regions of the country, so if there are differences where you're from, I'd love to hear them. Some of these I've never heard, but I don't spend a lot of time with kids that age. Some seem out of date to me because I have heard them.

Below is a short list of trending terms, definitions, and likelihood of real-world use:

(very likely) = being aware or made conscious of the goings-on of community issues.

Savage (very likely) = something or someone exhibiting traits of being cool.

Snatched (somewhat likely) = this is the new “on fleek.” Used to describe anything that looks really good or is on point.

Stan (not likely at all) = used to describe a hardcore fan. Originates from the song “Stan” off of Eminem’s Marshal Mathers LP in 2000.

(somewhat likely) = means that a person is trying too hard or being over the top.

Fam (very likely) = Shorthand for family. Can refer to either a close group of friends (also “squad”), or an individual.

(not likely at all/sounds completely made up) = Acts as a modifier at the END of a verb. Originates from Internet celebrity, or cewebrity, Todrick Hall.

If you'd edit this list for your part of the U.S., can you let me know what you'd change and where you're from?
posted by terilou to Writing & Language (46 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I'm 29 but I follow hip hop, rap, and am on Twitter all day, the ones I really do hear all the time.

Stan (also used as a verb - "nah, I stan hard for 00's era Britney")

I don't really hear savage or snatched but they sound likely, have NEVER heard boots.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:58 AM on June 29, 2016 [4 favorites]

You guys might get some use out of The Fader's Slang Show - if you can find one without cursing you might even be able to show the class. Off the top of my head Saba is pretty soft-spoken, but obviously screen for content first.
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:01 AM on June 29, 2016

"woke" and "fam" show up in memes/internetspeak a lot (usually being used ironically in the middle-aged-person circles I run in these days) but the only one I think I've heard actual kids use in the real world is "savage."

region: SF bay area
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:02 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

My middle-school students say woke, extra, and fam.
posted by mai at 10:02 AM on June 29, 2016

i see Stan on twitter all the time, but only as a verb
posted by Greg Nog at 10:03 AM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

"Snatched" is a queer/drag community word. It's accurate, but I haven't heard the kids using it yet (I usually here it in terms of a gender performer's look being exceptionally good). Woke is accurate, but the kids here are already using it ironically (SF / Bay Area), as in, "woke as fuck" for someone who's angry about a lot of things that might not be quite the social justice issues the target of the word thinks they are. Our kids are all teens, they recently had me laughing talking about a peer of theirs being so woke that they were demanding structural change to the inequalities that made said peer wait, like, hella long in line for a taco truck.

Boots is entirely new to me. The other words are all kinda bounced around generally, not just in youth culture.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 10:04 AM on June 29, 2016 [13 favorites]

I've heard "boots" used by drag queens, not teenagers.
posted by Julnyes at 10:13 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm a high school teacher in Phoenix (~70 percent Hispanic) and I hear "savage!" pretty much every day.
posted by Alexandra Michelle at 10:18 AM on June 29, 2016

I saw woke a few times on Reddit, I see fam some currently on Reddit
posted by Jacen at 10:20 AM on June 29, 2016

(41, Ottawa, Canada) Given the frequency with which I hear "fam" used by people near my own age, sometimes ironically and sometimes not, I suspect it's on its way out and will remain as slang for a while longer -- but it will not be "cool kid" slang. I don't notice "hip" people using it -- I see soccer moms (no offence meant; I drive a station wagon and my kid spent years in soccer) posting "luv my fam!! <3 <3" with uploads of pix of their kids/partner/etc.
posted by kmennie at 10:24 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

According to the 12 year old New York City kid I hang with 'tight' now means angry.
posted by greta simone at 10:24 AM on June 29, 2016

My 14 year-old son (Boston suburbs) says "fam" but, like everything else he says, I'm not sure if he's being ironic or not.

My 22 year-old niece, a recent college grad, also from the 'burbs, and the hippest person willing to associate with me says:

"for the record, his definition of savage is wrong and I've never heard boots or snatched"


"The second and third definitions for savage on urban dictionary are more accurate, Ive never heard it used as 'cool'"
posted by bondcliff at 10:27 AM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

kmennie: that's a different usage. I'm no expert but "luv my fam! " is not the same as:

Kid A: You're stupid with your stupid hat
Kid B: chill fam

Now maybe 4O-year-old soccer moms use it that way too, but if so I don't hear it (yet).
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:31 AM on June 29, 2016 [9 favorites]

My 65 year old mom says and has always said "fam" - is this really new slang?
posted by sockermom at 10:31 AM on June 29, 2016

I hear "salty" (angry/butthurt) and "thirsty" (desperate for romantic/sexual attention) on tumblr a lot.
posted by missrachael at 10:33 AM on June 29, 2016 [12 favorites]

yeah "fam" as shortened "family" is not the same as "fam" as a direct form of address
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:33 AM on June 29, 2016 [13 favorites]

Source:am 28 and have only heard it in the past few years and don't really know what it means /what context it is used in, though seems derogatory, as in "That's so basic"
posted by pravit at 10:34 AM on June 29, 2016

I've been hearing snatched in recent beauty youtube vids (yes, stolen/borrowed from the drag world)
posted by peep at 10:40 AM on June 29, 2016

If I was gonna edit to add words, they'd be:

creeping - crushing on/hitting on/internet stalking someone you have a crush on - see joey purp rapping
"You with yours, I'm with mine
What's your name and your sign?
And we know we both creeping
Ayy, but we know we don't mind"

the gram / gram - instagram

finsta - your "fake instagram" - this would be what's known on twitter as an "alt" or "alt account," a locked account for friends only

flame - more current update of "fire" (see also: just the fire emoji). "the new future mixtape is flames"

everything else i can think of is not school appropriate....
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:40 AM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

oh, also, dunked on / roasted / fried - basically all mean the same thing
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:43 AM on June 29, 2016

I've seen woke, fam and savage used and the context clues seem similar, though 'savage' seems to have more a ooo BURN connotation to it.
posted by Mooski at 10:45 AM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

Also "rekt" == wrecked
posted by Sublimity at 10:46 AM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Don't forget "lit" as in "it's lit" as in "it's awesome"
posted by glass origami robot at 10:47 AM on June 29, 2016 [6 favorites]

sockermom: A) slightly eponysterical and B) NO, it is different. It's an old word but used in a different way. I'd bet a donut that your mom uses it roughly like this clip from What About Bob, which came out in 1991. This is where one is using "fam" as short for literal family. This use is also similar to kmennie's example above.

This is not the way (some) kids use it these days, or did until recently. That goes more like "Word? What the Fuck?! Chill fam!", according to this 2015 youtube video. These people are not family members, and "fam" could be basically semantically be replaced by "bro" or "dude" or "pal", depending on your age/era/location. If your mom talks like that, using "fam" in sentences where "dude" would also make sense, please send us a clip :)
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:48 AM on June 29, 2016 [4 favorites]

The "Urban Dictionary" is a good source for this kind of thing.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:53 AM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

Urban dictionary can be useful but some entries are purposely wrong and misleading, for humor or to throw off the olds.

Also, stop trying to make "fetch" happen :)
posted by SaltySalticid at 11:01 AM on June 29, 2016 [9 favorites]

Also, if you're looking for words to add, I would include "bae," "rachet," and seconding "salty" and "lit."
posted by Alexandra Michelle at 11:11 AM on June 29, 2016 [5 favorites]

Reporting in from the Minneapolis suburbs here. Just asked my 13-year-old son if he has heard any of these, and he says he's only ever heard people use "savage" and "fam". And though it's not on your list, he uses "salty" (in the "angry/butthurt" sense mentioned by missrachael above) constantly.
posted by Janta at 11:11 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've heard turnt used by several teens to describe someone who is wearing fancy clothing (such as for a prom) or just someone who is just looking good at a particular time. I've also heard it used ironically to describe someone trying too hard to stand out sartorially.
posted by Chrischris at 11:24 AM on June 29, 2016 [5 favorites]

I'm in my 30s but can vouch for woke and fam. Though the description of the meaning of fam is not entirely correct. I've only ever seen it as a term of singular direct address, almost a perfect stand in for the way "son" was used a few years ago among young African-American men.

I have definitely heard tell of some use of "boots" as a slang term, and not used as a noun. (In fact I'm almost positive I've heard it as an adverb/modifying a verb.) I'm not sure if corresponds to your definition... it was used as an intensifier, sort of like "totally" or Chandler Bing's use of "so". The folks I've met who use it are Atlanta-based and add it to the front of a verb, not behind.

I haven't heard stan yet, but I run in nerd circles that have their own language of fandom, so maybe it's different in different subcultures?

Still hearing a lot of "fire" and "lit". I've never actually heard anyone say "one hundred" but on the internet the 100 emoji is still used a lot. I think that, like woke and fam, it might be drifting into ironic use, though.

Rachet and Basic are sooooooo over. ("Boots" over, even?)
posted by Sara C. at 11:24 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Be careful about your goal here.

Try and learn to understand the moving target of kid lingo but be really clear that it should never be used because nothing alienates kids quicker than an adult trying to break their code. At best they will think you have yanked your mom or dad jeans too high while trying to be the cool adult. More likely they will view you as an attempted colonizer of their space.
posted by srboisvert at 11:33 AM on June 29, 2016 [9 favorites]

i'd steer clear of ratchet, it has class/race connotations that are pretty unwoke
posted by Juliet Banana at 12:11 PM on June 29, 2016 [15 favorites]

i'd steer clear of ratchet, it has class/race connotations that are pretty unwoke

For that matter, my (white) peer group considers the use of "woke" by white people racist appropriation.
posted by pullayup at 12:43 PM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

"Stan" is definitely a thing, at least in fandom. There was some "news" recently about Kim Kardashian's biggest Stan considering retiring.
posted by radioamy at 12:56 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, "woke" is originally an unironic description of awareness of the ways systemic racism infects all aspects of society/government/culture/person-to-person interactions. It's now being used ironically, but if you're not really woke to the history and community. . .don't use it. Ironically or sincerely. It could get awkward.

Can you used "snatched" in a sentence? I only see/used it as "[xyz] snatched my edges"/"snatched my wig" in a way that's similar to the idiom "[xyz] was so good i slapped my momma!"

"Stan" has the additional nuance of someone going overboard in their love or defense of a celebrity. Used to dismiss others and/or proudly/ironically refer to oneself.

"Fam" can also refer to a larger socio/economic group of which the speaker is a part. (i.e,, women in general, black people in general, Zayn Malik fans in general, the world in general.) Fam has #levels.
posted by tyrantkitty at 1:23 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Huh, I remember reading about stans and stanning on ONTD circa early/mid-2000s. The tone was definitely derisory/self-deprecating (but then again, this is ONTD we're talking about...)
posted by btfreek at 1:32 PM on June 29, 2016

It can be common for teens to refer to people they like - especially on Instagram as "mom" or "dad". Buzzfeed investigated it but Bustle breaks it down.

Teens may be using "ship" in terms of wanting two people to be in a relationship - but it comes from fandom and I'm not sure how much it's infiltrated teens but I hear young adults using it. Maybe someone closer to that age or with kids that age can comment.

Also "Yaaasss" is at least common with young adults.
posted by Crystalinne at 1:46 PM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

"On point" or "on fleek" for when your style is hitting it precisely. Often heard in the makeup communities when someone's eyebrows are so perfect.

"Soz" for sorry.

Seconding "Yaaaas". I found I've started to use this as I've been listening to way too many podcasts with speakers who use this.

Source: 38 year old high Australian school teacher. Does not apologise for using this language natively in conversation with students. Does not sound awkward because I spend hours on Tumblr.
posted by chronic sublime at 4:16 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

My 14 year old calls everyone "my dude." Ship is definitely a thing. Ye instead of yes. Kk instead of ok. Those last two are mostly text specific. I can think of lots more, but it's hard to separate IRL slang from internet slang from family slang.
posted by Ruki at 7:40 PM on June 29, 2016

From this old person's limited understanding, these are embarrassingly outdated, and should rarely/never be used without a healthy sense of irony: bae, turnt, yolo, swag, on fleek, woke

(You should never approach teens talking to each other without a healthy sense of irony, for that matter, so that arguably applies to everything in this thread.)

af = as fuck

On the nsfw/inappropriate-for-school front, expect to hear daddy a whole lot.
posted by naju at 8:02 PM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

I recently heard savage as being new slang, but it was pretty common in Ireland in the 90s (and probably still in use) with the same meaning listed.
posted by TwoWordReview at 11:09 PM on June 29, 2016

I've never actually heard anyone say "one hundred" but on the internet the 100 emoji is still used a lot. I think that, like woke and fam, it might be drifting into ironic use, though.

My daughter definitely uses "hunnit" as a positive adjective.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:43 AM on June 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

Basic are sooooooo over

I can't find it now but there was a whole discussion here about the word basic a year or two ago. It was first time I'd heard the word, and nearly the last. Over and beanplated to death.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:21 AM on June 30, 2016

savage spotted in the wild - as a few people said the definition in the op seems to be incorrect
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:58 AM on July 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

I work in an NYC high school and these are definitely not words I hear.
posted by Salamandrous at 2:39 PM on July 3, 2016

Hey, just FYI, "savage" is about to be everywhere.
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:51 AM on July 18, 2016

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