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Understanding Things Teenagers Say

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

For years, it seemed as though teens had their own special language — and that’s even more so with the advent and proliferation of smartphones. It’s a way for teens to communicate with each other, while, in some regard, leaving parents in the dark. Of course, those teen slang phrases have evolved over time, too, to be those few extra steps ahead of the adults who try to keep up. 

So, how are parents supposed to manage?

Our Kinetic by Windstream team is here to help this National Cybersecurity Awareness Month with our guide to popular slang words and phrases. It’s important to know that not everything teenagers say is worth even your slightest concern. But, there are a few key terms that, if spotted, may require some action on your part. 

Knowing these teen slang phrases can not only help you determine whether he or she is being safe online, but it could also prevent your teen from getting into real-life situations that are dangerous. It can, for example, tell you whether your teen is being bullied online or is bullying others online. It can also tell you whether your teen is dabbling in other troublesome behaviors, such as drugs, alcohol or unsafe sex. 

The first step for parents, though, is to get acquainted with all slang, harmless or not. And, fortunately for you, we’ll be covering them all!

Harmless Popular Slang Words and Phrases

As noted earlier, most teen language is shorthand or a fun way to talk to each other. The words or phrases below may contain parts of curse words but are, for the most part, harmless.

AF — as f***; used to describe an extreme
Awk/Awks — awkward
Beef — a disagreement
BRB — be right back
Cheddar — money
Drip — immense swag
Extra — over the top
F2F — face to face, meet in person
Finna — going to
Fire - cool, trendy
Fleek — on point
FOMO — fear of missing out
Goals — a look or lifestyle that someone wants
GOAT — greatest of all time
Gucci — cool
Hangry — hungry and angry
Hundo P — 100% sure
It’s Lit/Lit — awesome, cool
OG — original
OMG — oh my gosh/God
Salty — sass, bitter
Sauce — confidence, swagger
Sic — cool
TBH — to be honest
V — very
YOLO — you only live once

Pop Culture Slang about People or Relationships

These words and phrases can be more revealing of your teen’s life online and offline. While many of these can be deemed “safe,” there are a few that may warrant some conversations with your teen. That may be the case if you spot some of these in such a way that shows your teen is either being cyberbullied or is bullying someone else online.

Bae — short for “baby,” used as a term of endearment
Basic — used to describe someone who is only interested in popular things
BF — boyfriend
BFF — best friends forever
Bruh (also bro) — short for “brother”
Bye Felicia — a term used to dismiss someone
Cancel — rejection of someone or something; can also be used to describe blocking someone on a social media channel
Clout Chaser — someone who hangs out with popular people to gain fame or attention for himself or herself
Creep — someone weird; or to look for more information about someone online
Curve — to turn someone down romantically
Emo — emotional, usually used to describe someone who is different from the norm
Fam — your closest friends
Ghost — to disappear without any warning
GF — girlfriend
Hater — a troll online or offline
Noob/n00b — used to describe someone who doesn’t know things
Squad — a friend group
Thicc — voluptuous, used as a compliment
Thirsty — flirtatious, attention seeking
Throw Shade — talking badly about someone or something
Tight — close, used to describe a relationship with someone else
Woke — used to describe someone who is attuned to social issues

Teen Slang Phrases that Raise A Red Flag

Seeing any of the words or phrases below will call for some sort of intervention. While there are the few that simply tell the person on the other line that parents are around, it can be a cause for concern in that your teen is likely trying to hide something from you. Most of these slang terms, though, revolve around drug or alcohol use or sexual behavior.

53X — sex
CD9 (also 9) — code 9, parents are around
CU46 — see you for sex
Down in the DM — direct messaging for private conversations
Finsta — fake Instagram
Juul — a popular brand of e-cigarettes that have flavor pods
KMS/KYS — kill myself, kill yourself; usually used in a joking manner
LMIRL — let’s meet in real life
Molly — MDMA, a drug
POS — parent(s) over shoulder
Smash — to hook up
Tweaking — high
X — ecstasy 

There are a few caveats to our guide.

As we noted earlier, teenagers are always adapting, and new terms will come alive while old ones die. Take, for example, “ratchet,” meaning loud and trashy. While the word may have had its heyday in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it’s not exactly used by youths anymore. If you run into a word or phrase that you’ve never heard, there are online resources — such as Urban Dictionary, a slang dictionary of sorts — to help you learn. Just remember that these aren’t exactly PG-rated sites, and what you find may surprise you.

It’s also important to know that teenagers are using more than just text messages to talk to each other. So, if you’re scanning through their texts every now and then, it may not be enough. Take a look at some of the most popular apps that your teen may be using and do a look-through those.

There are also some safety apps that can you help you get a better handle on your teen’s online activities.

Remember, though, that it’s best not to spy and just be in constant conversation with your teen — no matter how uncomfortable that talk may be.