17 slang words teens and Gen Z-ers are using in 2019, and what they mean

These are the terms and slang words Gen Z-ers can't stop using.

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These are the terms and slang words Gen Z-ers can’t stop using.
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Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock

  • Teens and members of Gen Z have come up with a whole host of new slang terms, many of which are confusing to older generations.
  • If you’ve ever wondered the meaning behind terms like “extra,” “slay,” “stan,” or “salty,” listen up.
  • Here’s a list of 17 popular terms and the correct way to use them.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In a world dominated by meme culture, ever-changing social media platforms, and your ability to cram your thoughts into a 280-character tweet, your grasp of basic slang can make or break your credibility as a functional and supposedly cool human.

Scroll through the comments of any Gen Z influencer’s Instagram feed, and you may feel completely out of the loop on what the world is talking about.

Read more: The state of Gen Z

Though many of these terms have been around for decades, oftentimes derived from the language of black and queer communities, online spaces have made the spread, appropriation, and evolution of language more rapid than ever before.

Whether you’re millennial, Gen X-er, or baby boomer trying to stay up to date, or a Gen Z-er in need of an explanation, here’s a list of 17 popular slang terms and the correct way to use them.


“Chill” can be an adjective to describe someone who’s cool to spend time with or something that’s fun to do. It can also mean to hang out, or be used as a directive to calm down

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Stanislav Golovchuk/Medium Gallery

“I like her, she’s chill.”

“Wanna come over and chill?”

“Why you so mad? Just chill.”

Source: Business Insider


To be “extra” is to be unnecessarily dramatic and over the top

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Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella

“She celebrated her birthday for an entire month. She’s so extra.”

Source: Merriam-Webster


Unlike the British version of the term “fit,” which means attractive, in the United States “fit” is just the shortened version of outfit

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Rob Kim / Getty

“She had on a fire fit at the party.”

“Their fit was bold.”

Source: Buzzfeed, Urban Dictionary


To “flex” is to knowingly flaunt and show off. As a noun, a flex is the thing being shown off

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Flickr / brent flanders

“He drove himself to school in a new car the day after he got his license. He’s trying to flex.”

“That car’s a flex.”

Source: Bustle


GOAT is an acronym that stands for the “greatest of all time,” with strong roots in American hip-hop

With its most notable appearance during the early aughts in LL Cool J’s eighth studio album “G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time),” GOAT has popped up in various songs over the last few decades and now stands as a way to describe respected icons.

“LeBron James is the GOAT. Period.”

Source: Grammarphobia


“Go off” can be used to encourage a choice, or to support a rant or ridiculous behavior that’s already occurred, usually meant humorously

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Strelka Institute/Flickr/Attribution License

*Friend rants about teacher for five minutes straight*

“Alright, go off.”

Source: Urban Dictionary


“Lewk” is a variation of “look,” a signature physical trait, or a specially and carefully constructed outfit or appearance

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Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

“Their dress at prom was a lewk.”

“Did you see Megan Thee Stallion’s lewk in her newest video?”

Source: The Cut


“Lit” is an adjective to describe when something’s amazing, exciting, high-energy, or otherwise great. It can also mean intoxicated or drunk

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Daniel Goodman/Business Insider

“That party was lit.”

“I was way too lit last night.”

Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary


“Lowkey” is slightly, secretly, modestly, or discretely. It’s the opposite of “highkey,” for when you’re sincerely or assertively into something

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Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design/Flickr

“I lowkey can’t wait for summer to be over.”

“I highkey love snow.”

Source: Business Insider


To be “salty” is to be annoyed, upset, or bitter, usually about something minor

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Vitaly Mum/Strelka Institute/Flickr

“You asked for a bite, but ate half my burger!”

“You salty?”

Source: Urban Dictionary


To “slay” is to do really well or succeed at something. The term first emerged during the 1970s and 80s in the midst of black drag and ballroom culture.

“She slayed that fit.”

“I slayed that test.”

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer, PushBlack Now, Business Insider


If someone’s “shook,” they’re affected by something, usually negatively and emotionally. It can also mean shocked, surprised, or scared

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Frantzesco Kangaris / Stringer / Getty Images

“Can’t believe how that movie ended. I’m shook.”

Source: Urban Dictionary


“Stan” can be a noun for an overzealous and obsessive fan, or a verb meaning to be that kind of fan. It originated from an Eminem song of the same name. Someone can be a “stan” of a celebrity, or used as a verb, they can “stan” them

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Brian Rasic/Getty Images

“I stan pretty hard for Lizzo.”

“Don’t say that to the ‘Game of Thrones’ stans.”

Source: Rolling Stone


“Szn” is a shortened version of the word season, often used to refer to periods of the astrological calendar.

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Shutterstock.com

“It’s Leo szn.”

“I highkey cannot wait for Virgo szn to be over.”

Source: Urban Dictionary


“Tea” is gossip, and “spilling the tea” is the act of gossiping. We can also thank black drag culture for this iconic phrase.

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Getty Images

“Spill the tea, what did he say?”

“Last night was a mess. Here’s the tea.”

Source: Merriam-Webster, Urban Dictionary


Someone is “thirsty” if they’re overly eager and desperate, usually for attention, approval, or compliments

“He’s posted, like, 10 selfies in the last hour. He’s so thirsty.”

Source: New York Times


A “whip” is a car. Emerging in the 1990s US hip-hop scene to specifically refer to a Mercedes Benz, the word has since evolved to mean all cars

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Flickr/danzen

“Check out my new whip.”

Source: Urban Dictionary