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

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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, — 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.
1 of 11
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n. The gossip, the real dirt.

According to Valiando Rojas, Gen-Zers aren't referencing the soothing beverage when they say "hit me with the real tea."
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v. What's up?

As in, "suh, bro."
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n. He/She needs some help.

If you hear "get that boy some milk," from an 11-year-old, they're not in need of the Vitamin-D packed drink, Valiando Rojas says.
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n. A fake Instagram account where you can experiment and don't have to worry about "likes."

"Some people will pull photos down if they don't get enough likes," Valiando Rojas says. A Finstagram account eliminates that fear.
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n. When you've looked at a friend's Snap, but haven't answered their text.

According to McCann's A to Gen Z glossary, getting "caught in a 'Snap Trap' is a social offense."
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adj. So cool, amazing, crazy

As in, "I went to Baby Ariel's show and it was lit."
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n. A backhanded compliment.

As in, "what he said was a total unsult." According to A to Gen Z, this is an "insult disguised as a compliment."
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v. When you're feeling emotional and listen to an equally emotional song.

McCann's A to Gen Z says that "draking" derives its name from the moody lyrics of everyone's favorite Canadian rapper.
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v. Someone who masters social accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and more at the same moment in time.

Most of the Musers, as stars of the popular teen video network are known, are experts at cross platforming. "They know it's important to populate different channels," Valiando Rojas says.
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adj. When someone is trying too hard.

Apparently, Gen Z is very into both beverages and words having to do with drinking. A to Gen Z says that someone who is thirsty, is "coming off as extremely desperate in order to get someone's attention."
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