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10 Trending Gen Z Slang Words and Phrases

Language is a dynamic, adaptable cultural work of art. This flexibility stems in part from the introduction of new hip words and jargon coined by different generations. Boomers, for example, are frequently perplexed by millennials’ unusual use of language, which is strongly influenced by their upbringing and their favorite pop culture icons. But what about Gen Z slang words?

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Without a doubt, it is Gen Z’s youngsters that are gracing (or disgracing, according to my uncle Bob) the English language with some of the most amusing and inventive modifications to date.

At Listen & Learn, we are convinced that learning about current trends is an important aspect of language learning. That is why, today, we’re presenting you a list of the hippest, examples of Gen Z words and phrases.

1. Sus (also spelled “suss”)

The word “sus” is short for “suspicious.” It is often used to describe someone who is acting shady or seems untrustworthy.

“I was talking to this guy at the party and he seemed really sus, so I didn’t give accept his follow request.”

2. Low-key

This adjective can be used to describe something, usually a whim or a feeling, that is not very important or serious. It is the opposite of “high-key.”

“I low-key want a new phone, but I’m not going to spend my whole paycheck on it.”

3. Extra

If you look up the word “extra” in a dictionary, you will get something like “in addition to what is usual or strictly necessary”. According to Gen Z slang, if someone is being extra, they are trying too hard or being overly dramatic.

“Why are you being so extra? You are just one of the guests, you’re not the bride. Just put on your party dress. NO, not the white one!!”

4. Basic

This term is one of the most offensive Gen z words out there. If it’s said at you by a teenager, you can really tell that they don’t like you, as it’s used to describe people, places, or things that are unoriginal and uninteresting. It is generally used as an insult.

“Ugh, she only drinks pumpkin spice lattes and wears UGG boots. She’s so basic.”

5. OK, boomer

This phrase has been making headlines recently as the perfect come-back for when someone says something that is outdated or offensive. It is used to dismiss the person speaking, usually an older person, as being out of touch. Gen Z words are so conciliatory…

“Can you believe that my boss told me to dress more professionally? OK, boomer.”

6. Canceling

Cancel culture refers to the act of withdrawing support for (canceling) a public figure or institution after they have done something wrong. This can be in the form of boycotting their work, refusing to buy their products, or publicly shaming them on social media. It is one of the most widely used Gen Z slang words in the current social and political climate.

“I used to love that DaBaby, but after he made that homophobic comment, I canceled him.”

7. No cap

You’ve probably seen cap and no cap used on social media a lot lately, but the term actually pre-dates Instagram and Gen Z by at .least thirty years. In Black culture, to cap about something means “to show off, brag, or exaggerate.”

Currently, the phrase “no cap” has been revived as a Gen Z slang phrase to emphasize that a person is speaking the truth.

“I know you might not believe me, but I promise, no cap, I saw a UFO.”

8. Hits different

This phrase is used to describe how something makes you feel now, as opposed to how it made you feel in the past. It is often used in Gen Z slang in reference to music, movies, or other forms of entertainment that have a marked effect on you and your emotional life.

“I just rewatched The Breakfast Club and, OMG, it hits different now that I’m an adult! I’m living for the queer subtext.”

9. Snatched

Snatched is a term historically used in the Black drag community, but it has been recently revitalized by RuPaul’s Drag Race. Like most Gen Z slang words, this term has a few different meanings, but the most common usage refers to someone who is looking “fierce” or “on point” usually in terms of their outfit or hairstyle.

“Did you see Beyonce’s new video? She is absolutely snatched!”

10. Understand the assignment

If you go into Twitter as often as I do, you’ve undoubtedly seen comments about Thimotee Chalamet or Zendaya understanding the assignment, meaning that they perfectly embodied their movie parts. These Gen Z slang words are used to indicate someone was successful at or completely nailed something they had to accomplish. And it isn’t just applicable to actors and actresses. Someone who’s found the perfect outfit or has a “killer comeback” may have understood the assignment as well.

“Did you see Rihanna’s dress at the Met Gala? She clearly understood the assignment.”

When one manages to leave their generational prejudice aside, it’s undeniable that Gen Z slang words and phrases are a fun way to express feelings and concepts, and communicate with your peers, regardless of your age.

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While some of the phrases may be difficult to understand at first, with a little effort you’ll be able to use them like a pro. Have you used any Gen Z slang words in your own conversations? Share them with us on our social media!

If you want to study English with a conversational approach, send us a quick message and we’ll pair you up with a qualified teacher so you can start boosting your speaking skills and learn to sound like a native speaker, Gen Z slang words included!