Mandatory Credit: Adam Pretty/ALLSPORT

How many of these Gen-X words do you still use in your daily vocabulary? Take a look at the list and find out.


To start with, I suppose we should clearly define “Gen-X.” Because depending on who you talk to, you might get a different range of years. Of course, I’m a Gen-Xer myself, so I could just say: “It’s 196x to 198x,” but I’m not what you’d consider a “reliable source.” And again, since I’m a Gen-Xer, I’ll go to the reliable source my generation went to back in the day: Encyclopedia Brittanica. Brittanica defines Generation X as any person born between the years of 1965 and 1980. Apologies to my brother Nate, who self-identifies as Gen-X despite being born in 1981. I guess you’re an “Elder Millennial” now, bro.


Speaking of Millennials, as Mental Floss states in their piece: “Members of Generation X found ways to establish their own lingo when they were coming of age,” despite not having the online platforms that Millennials and Gen-Z member had growing up. And a lot of that lingo that we established lives on. We Gen-Xers were lucky enough to grow up during some of the most important musical moments of the 20th century. The punk movement of the late ’70s, hardcore following on its heels in the early ’80s, and of course the explosion of grunge in the ’90s. And throughout that entire period? The birth and evolution of alternative rock and hip-hop.


13 Gen-X Words You Probably Still Use

Music is culture, and culture breeds its own language. Some of these Gen-X words started out as musical terms, then crossed over into popular culture. Scroll through the list, complete with the throwback examples I’ve given with each. Then let me know how many of them you’re still hella rockin’ to the max, dude.

  • 1) Chill Pill

    You know a slang word has legs when it pops up on a TV show three decades later. That’s Manfried, by the way. Talking pinata from ‘Adventure Time.’ Voiced by Maria Bamford, a Gen-Xer.

  • 2) Diss

    Omnipresent in hip-hop throughout the ’80s and ’90s. I could’ve chosen an example from literally thousands of Golden Era hip hop tracks. But I went with A Tribe Called Quest. Because I love them.

  • 3) Dude

    Sure, “dude” has it’s roots in the American West. But Gen-X really made the word our own. It’s evolved to become a gender-neutral, all-encompassing term. And it’s also the name of a pretty famous movie character.

  • 4) Gnarly

    West coast surf and skate culture brought this one to the forefront. It’s frequently combined it with the aforementioned “dude.”  And now, thanks to Pixar, the term has been introduced to a new generation. Gnarly!

  • 5) Headbanger

    I mean, MTV had a whole damn show dedicated to headbangers! Riki Rachtman was the host of Headbangers Ball here in the U.S. But in the U.K., the host was Vanessa Warwick. She rocked.

  • 6) Hella

    More goodness from youth culture. This one started out on the West Coast. But over the years, it made its way eastward. I’ve heard East Coast heads use “hella” plenty.

  • 7) Rock

    Sure, “rock” music was a product of the Greatest Generation and the Boomers. But saying something “rocks” was invented by Generation X. I won’t be hearing any arguments to the contrary at this time. Thank you.

  • 8) Trippin'

    Another one from hip-hop culture that made it’s way into the modern rock world. That’s the beauty of Gen X and our music and our slang. After awhile, it all blended together. And that’s a good thing.

  • 9) To The Max

    This feels West Coast, too. But it was everywhere in the ’80s. Music, TV, movies…especially Heathers. I mean, I could’ve just posed clips from Heathers for pretty much all of these terms, right?

  • 10) Yuppie

    Those “Young Urban Professionals” were all the rage back in the ’80s. Then they took all that newfound wealth that never really “trickled down,” purchased their prosperity, and pulled up the ladder behind them. Thanks, Yuppies!

  • 11) As If

    Would Clueless have even been Clueless without “as if?” No, wait. What I meant to say was: as if Clueless would have even been Clueless without “as if.”

  • 12) Literally

    This is a complicated one. You can blame Gen X for corrupting the literal meaning of literally. But it’s really Millennials that took it and ran with it. Literally.

  • 13) Whatever

    “Oh well, whatever, never mind…” – Kurt Cobain, voice of a generation.

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