We’ve been sharing the definitions for the hottest Gen Z words and phrases on our weekly Screenshot newsletter, and we know wanted them in one place so here it is – Your A to Gen Z dictionary.
Aesthetic / noun /
1. A word that describes a collection of visual references that includes film, music, fashion and even literature, for example, ‘Cottagecore’.
2. Can also be used as a synonym for beautiful, for example, ‘that’s aesthetic’.
ACAB / acronym /
1. Stands for “All Cops Are Bastards,” used as a result of frustration with the culture of killing and complacency in police departments across the country.
2. Love it or hate it, it’s a repopularized rallying cry at BLM protests that communicates real anger and frustration. It demands that police departments are wholesale changed to reflect a culture that’s more humane and more accountable.
Bag / noun /
1. We’re talking dollar bills when we say this; it’s like a short version of ‘Money Bags’.
2. Alternatively, if someone is in their bag, it means they’ve got tunnel vision on themselves and in a state of hyper-focus. We’d say… “Midterms are coming up, I’m in my bag rn”
3. Or it can also mean they’re pretty down in the dumps, those feels really got to them. Midterms really be doing that.
Banger / Gen Z lingo /
- A song that gets you up and moving without missing a beat.
2. A song you like to the point you’re listening to it for hours on repeat and there’s no sign of skipping! See: WAP by Cardi B ft. Megan Thee Stallion, Trend No. 10 in our 2020 Trend Report.
Don’t @ Me / phrase /
1. An order that you shouldn’t respond to what’s just been said… like it’s not up for debate. At all. Not even a word.
2. The term is rooted in social media culture where @ is a way of mentioning someone directly. It’s the conversation ender to end all conversations.
Flex / verb /
1. The opposite of the ‘humble brag’- you want everyone to know just how slick you are!
2. Rooted in hip hop, Ice Cube and Waka Flocka Flame used it but it wasn’t until Rae Sremmurd popularized it with their hit ‘No Flex Zone’ that it entered our vernacular.
Gassed / verb /
1. When you’re deliriously happy.
2. Being so joyful you could be mistaken for being on laughing gas.
3. Imported from UK street slang, alternatively, in a US context it simply means ‘good’.
Gucci / noun /
1. When something is all good. No need to worry, no stress, it’s all Gucci.
Hit Different / verb /
1. This phrase is used when a Gen Zer comes across something mind-blowing.
It’s the _____ for me / phrase /
1. Used when pointing out a particular quality about someone, mainly to roast them.
Main Character / noun /
1. An empowering feeling and an attitude that you are the protagonist of the world around you.
Shooting My Shot / verb /
1. When you put your life, ego and everything on the line to get your crush’s attention.
2. I mean, they say a love story starts with Once Upon A Time, but really it starts with ‘So I shoot my shot…’
Slaps / verb /
1. When something just hits the spot, or should I say… slaps the spot! (Ba dum tss!)
2. This meaning isn’t actually new. The word was used as an adjective for ‘first-class’ as early as the 1800s. It took off as a word to describe a REALLY good song in the early ‘00s and now it’s reached critical mass, and anything amazing just slaps!
Simp / verb /
1. Liking someone or something waaaaay beyond words.
2. In a dating context, it means when a person does the most for the person they have a crush on, often unrequited. Sometimes bordering on Cringe!
3. The word has been criticized for feeding into ideas of toxic masculinity, particularly when used in a heteronormative context of a guy who treats a girl with respect and is called a “simp” for it.
TFTI / acronym /
1. Short Form for Thanks For The Invite… sounds pretty harmless, right? No, it’s only meant sarcastically. When your invite was lost in the mail and you’re getting a serious case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), you just wanna let the host know that they’ve clearly made a mistake.
2. Alternatively, taken to mean Thanks For The Information. Again, not a heartfelt thanks, but something that didn’t need pointing out like… TFTI.
Yeet / noun /
1. Officially means to throw something with a lot of force, but really it can be used for so much more than that – it’s versatile!
2. Its origins are found in 2000s Hip Hop culture and resurrected in these popular Vines.
3. This SNL skit from Saturday shows yeet’s place in the culture.
❤️ / tone /
1. Truly the universal sign of love, but pair it with a snarky comment and it just raises the bar higher on all that good-humored snark!
2. Adding a red heart to anything is usually sarcastic.
❄️ / greeting /
1. Gen Zers are sending this emoji to their crushes instead of an unironic cheesy pick-up line.
2. The trend originated when Migos rapper Quavo revealed that he slid into his bae Saweetie’s DMs using the emoji, and they’re going two years strong. The internet has taken this as inspiration and sent it to the people they’re simping. I’m still waiting to hear back from my crush 👀
👁👄👁 / phrase /
1. Having exploded in popularity recently, the combination of these three emojis expresses speechlessness. It’s like ‘awkward’ because our response is WTF.
Jawwad Mustafa is the Director of The Screenshot Newsletter. He’s always got a drink in hand - either peppermint tea, peach iced tea or a vanilla latte. If you see him with anything else, you’ll really need to vote for him as The Imposter. You can find his creativity on Instagram at @JawwadTheCreator.