(Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Gabrielle's Angel Foundation)

Millennial slang has low-key worked its way into the modern vocabulary. And I’m totes OK about it and not shook in the least.

 

I’ve become a bit of an accidental student of linguistics over the last year. First, I thought it would be fun to revisit some of the slang of my youth that still creeps its way into my vocab. So I put together this list of 13 Gen-X words you probably still use. Literally. Then I got to thinking about all the Boston slang words that have transcended generations, so I put together a list of those. Wicked pissah!

 

Now I’m turning to the much-maligned Millennials. Unfairly maligned, I’ll add. As I hinted at above, I’m Gen-X, born in 1977. Like most of my generation, I have no beef with Millennials. And I’m constantly entertained by Boomers shaking their fists at them and writing op-eds about how their generation needs to stop buying avocado toast and start buying houses. Classic Boomer stuff.

 

21 Millennial Slang Words We’re All Saying Now

Let’s set aside the jokey stereotypes for the time being. Slang championed by Millennials has enriched our vocabulary in ways that my generation’s slang failed to. Sure, at the end of the day, they’re slang words, and slang words are the fads of language: high impact over a short term. Fun for awhile, but ultimately disposable. But damn, some of these ones seem to have real legs.

 

I used this Thought Catalog piece from 2018 as a jumping-off point. You know, because research is important. I chose an older piece on purpose so I could hand-pick some slang that has endured over the last half-decade and could very well be popping up in our conversations for another half-decade to come. Humblebrag, but I think I did a good job. I high-key hope you enjoy it.

  • Adulting

    This is the one in the list I actually can’t stand. There is no “adulting.” Just do your damn laundry and pay your damn bills and handle your business. We don’t need a slang term for this.

    This song slaps, though.

  • Bae

    A think I love about this list? I learned things. I always thought “bae” was a pet name similar to “baby.” But it’s an acronym for Before Anyone Else!

  • Basic

    Something that’s mainstream or widely accepted. Or someone who likes those things. We used to call those people “generic.” And by “we” I mean “Gen X.”

  • Clap Back

    Much like Gen-Xers, Millennials have learned the wisdom of copping slang terms from hip-hop culture. A clap back is like a witty comeback. But it’s much more devastating. Please don’t clap back at me about this list.

  • Humble Brag

    When you complain about something you shouldn’t be complaining about. Or try to couch a brag like it’s a hassle. A lot of people who do this have privilege and hate hearing about it. So make sure you point it out.

  • Extra

    Over-the-top behavior. A cousin of what we Gen-Xers used to call “drama.” I actually prefer using drama to using extra. Does that mean I’m being extra?

  • Fam

    Short for “family,” but not used to describe your actual family. Used to describe those people in your life that feel like family. Because there’s the family you’re born into and the family you choose. Right, fam?

  • High-Key

    The opposite of “low-key.” Absolute. Without a doubt. For sure.

  • Lit

    Boomers and Gen-Xers used this one as a synonym for “drunk.” Millennials have made it a synonym for “hyped up.” Kinda the same thing, though? Just don’t confuse it with the band.

  • Low-key

    Not related to Loki. Somewhat related to the Gen-X slang term “keep it on the down low.” This one’s just a synonym of “kind of.” See “high-key” above.

  • Receipts

    Evidence of hypocrisy. “Adam 12, I just heard you play Pantera on the radio, but I remember you saying back in the day how much you hate that band! I have receipts!” Or, you know, this:

  • Savage

    Similar to the “savage” we’ve known for years. It can mean brutal. But it can also mean petty. It’s versatile like that.

  • Shipping

    When you’d like to see two people in a romantic relationship. Relation…shipping. Get it? Big word in fandoms.

  • Shook

    I hesitated before adding this one. I feel like every generation has used “shook” to describe a feeling of shock or disbelief. But Millennials have taken it to the next level. I like to think it’s because they grew up listening to this banger.

     

  • Slay

    To succeed in an all-encompassing way. It could mean accomplishing a task strongly. Or acing a test. Or when you get your look down perfectly.

     

  • Stan

    A portmanteau of “stalker” and “fan.” There’s a song about it you might know. If you don’t know the term “portmanteau” go look it up. I’m not your English teacher.

  • Sus

    Short for “suspicious.” Often combined with other slang terms. For example: “high-key sus.” Really took of during the Pandemic when everyone was playing Among Us.

  • Thirsty

    Again, Millennials just taking words and redefining ’em. “Thirsty” now means “horny.” Posting a provocative selfie is posing a “thirst trap.” You’ve been warned.

  • Throw Shade

    To insult someone. But to insult them in a subtle way. “Low-key,” if you will. Here are some prime examples from a prime example of Millennial entertainment.

     

  • Trill

    True + Real = Trill. This is one of the few on the list that actually looks and sounds dated now that I’ve typed it out. This might be an “Elder Millennial” term. Has late-stage Gen X feels.

  • Woke

    Last one, and it’s an important one. Woke is defined as being “alert to prejudice and discrimination.” It’s not a “mob” or a “mind virus” or any other derogatory term. Anyone who tells you it is? They’re acting low-key sus.

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