Generation Z Is Here — & They Brought All Their New Slang

Designed by Abbie Winters.
With every new generation comes a new set of slang terminology — be it new words, or new (sometimes baffling) meanings for existing words. However, there might be none as unique as those of Gen Z, the so-called digital natives born between 1996 and 2010.

"Slang has always been around, but even five years ago we weren't feeling too distant from youth — it wasn't such an alien world," says India Wooldridge, the SVP Director at Truth Central, the research unit of advertising agency McCann.

Those five years, during which many members of Gen Z have entered their early teens, have made a big difference. This past summer, Truth Central released "The Truth About Youth," a report based on interviews with over 33,000 people in 18 countries. Over the course of her research, Wooldridge found that she "literally had no idea what [Gen Zers] were talking about" — in many cases, language had evolved past understanding.

This language was coming from more places than ever before, leading Wooldridge and her team to come up with a new name for digital natives: The Kaleidoscope Kids. That name references the many mediums — GIFs, Snapchat, emoji, Instagram, Reddit, musical.ly — that impact teens these days.

"Language is moving so rapidly — [Gen Z] has so many different lenses and filters influencing how they express themselves," Wooldridge says. "Shake the kaleidoscope and it means something different the next day."

In an attempt to make some sense of the language surrounding us on the streets, the subways, and online, we've compiled a list of 10 common words, with the help of Truth Central and Meredith Valiando Rojas, the founder of the social media concert series DigiTour. Ahead, definitions for the terms all the "cool" kids are using — for now, at least.