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Stay woke and slay teen slang.
Every generation of teenagers has its own slang. Adults aren’t meant to understand it, and, in fact, that is the whole point. We chose language partly to express our identity, and, since teenagers naturally want to create an identity separate from that of their parents, they use different words, expressions, and phrases. It helps create distance and establish boundaries . . . blah, blah, blah. I get it; we all get it. But if you’re anything like me, you still want to know what the heck your kids are talking about.
So, lovely readers, in pursuit of this lofty intellectual goal of understanding (with nothing at all to do with being desperate to connect with my increasingly independent children), I am going to attempt to decode the latest teenage slang.
I will admit that I recently saw a similar segment on the “Today” show, and when I asked my 15-year-old son if these words were used by teenagers IRL (in real life), he said, “Mom, you shouldn’t get all your information about teenagers from the ‘Today’ show.” To which I replied, “Well, they are my only source because someone doesn’t want to share his innermost thoughts and feelings with me.” And then he ran out of the room so fast he left a little trail of smoke behind him.
I want to be clear that the fallout from this will not be pretty. The moment my children read this, I will be dead to them. And not “dead” in the cool way (see No. 3 below); dead in the “I have never seen this woman before” and “Drop me off three blocks from school” way. But that is a risk I am willing to take. Plus, I kind of love embarrassing my kids. I consider it one of the rewards of parenting teenagers, and those can be few and far between. So, without further ado, here are 10 of the most up-to-date slang words teenagers are using. *
Lit: This is how the kids say something is great. Example: “My mom, Jill Orr, is so lit.”
Stay woke: Originally, the term “stay woke” was a warning to be hypervigilant in the face of racial and social injustice. However, when teens use it these days, it is often used ironically or as a joke to be aware of something that poses no real threat. Example: “Fletcher’s mom is decoding teen slang in COMO Living this month. Stay woke!”
Dead: When something is so funny or cool or surprising that one “dies” of laughter or envy or embarrassment. Often used in text communication. Example: “Ellie’s mom just told me to ‘stay woke.’ *DEAD*”
GOAT: This is an acronym, used in written and verbal communication, meaning Greatest of All Time. Example: “My mom is the GOAT.”
Squad goals: When your friend group has something that everyone else admires. Often used as a caption for a picture on Instagram or Twitter. Example: A mom might write #squadgoals below a picture of her with her other mom friends if they are out past 8 p.m. on a weeknight for a non-kid-related event. But considering my son’s high school recently had a “squad goals” day, I’m guessing this term is on its way to the teenage dumpster.
Fam: Do not expect your kids to describe you as their fam. Forget that you have provided them with food, clothing, and shelter for their entire lives. Their fam is made up of their very closest friends, their inner circle, and does not generally include anyone who lives in their home . . . no matter how many times you tell them that makes no sense and that other kids would kill to call you their fam because you are super cool.
Thirsty: Do not offer up a glass of milk if you hear your kids or their friends say someone is “thirsty.” When used by a teen, this means desperate, or overeager. Example: A certain middle-aged woman might be called “thirsty” if she tries to use teenage slang as a way to relate to her kids.
Smh: Abbreviation for “shaking my head” to convey disbelief in the face of stupidity. Used in written communication, usually text. Example: “My mom won’t stop calling herself the GOAT. *Smh*”
Slay: To do something really well. Example: “I am really slaying this article on teenage slang.”
Throw shade: To voice disapproval. Example: Fletcher and Ellie will throw some serious shade on their mom after reading this article even though it was super lit. (Oh yeah, that’s a twofer. Slayed it! Hundo P! [Bonus word: that means 100 percent].)
*Please note that I am writing this in December of 2016, even though it will not appear in print until February of 2017, so there is a high probability that these terms have already gone the way of other disgraced teen slang terms like bae, on fleek, and YOLO. Apparently, the only people using these words now are adults having a midlife crisis, or 9-year-old boys on Instagram.