Learning "Teen Talk"
If there’s one parental principle for the teen years hammered home by almost everyone, it’s the importance of communication. The challenge is that today, that means becoming bilingual.
Translation: learning “teen talk.”
Amy Iverson with Deseret News said it well: “Being informed about [teen’s] language can help parents understand kids’ communication and can lead to better, more in-depth conversations. It is also vital to be aware of some slang that could be warning signs for inappropriate behavior or bullying.”
Pulling from their article, along with similar articles from Bark and Family Education, here are a few lists for you, starting with some harmless and funny terms to get you started (and if you’d like to see how these might be used in conversation, check out the Sources below):
Bet – when you agree or approve of something
Bussin’ – when something is really good
Cap/Cappin’ – calling something a lie/when someone is lying
Cheugy (pronounced CHOO-ghee) – when something’s very uncool or outdated
Drip – when you really like someone’s style
Fit – short for outfit
OFC – short for “of course”
Salty – being bitter or cranky
Sus/Sussy – when someone or something is a little “off”
Tea – gossip or interesting news
YEET – an emphatic “yes” or throwing something
Then there are those words, phrases or acronyms that you want to keep your eye out for because of what your teen may be experiencing themselves or using about others:
Bae – stands for “before anyone else” and usually a term for a significant other
Cake – used for a large… well… backside
Cursed – an image that’s creepy or disturbing
FINSTA – used for a fake Instagram account
Gas – could just be used to mean something that’s cool, but can also refer to pot
Low key – can describe being interested in something or keeping something a secret
Simp – used to describe a person (usually a man) desperately seeking the approval of others or someone who lets women push them around (Side note: I wrote an entire blog about this titled “Call Me a Simp”)
Thirsty – desperate for attention, often sexual attention
Finally, there are the words that should send up warning flags. Using these can be the means for hiding things or engaging in secret behavior that they don’t want you to know about:
ASL – age/sex/location
Bih – an abbreviation for b****
Body count – the number of people they’ve slept with
Daddy – a good looking, older guy who seems to have power and dominance
DTF – down to have sex
Hentai – graphic anime pornography
KMS/KYS – kill myself/kill yourself
Plug – a drug dealer or someone who can hook you up with drugs
Smash – having casual sex
THOT – stands for “that ho over there” and is the new alternative to slut
And what about words you’ve heard but still don’t know about? A good resource for parents is Urban Dictionary.
Get busy talking to your teen.
James Emery White
Amy Iverson, “Feeling Lost with Gen Z Slang? OK Boomer, Here Are the Basics,” Deseret News, February 16, 2022, read online.
“2022 Teen Slang Meanings Every Parent Should Know,” Bark, March 1, 2021, read online.
Robin Enan, “The Newest Teen Slang Trends of 2022,” Family Education, January 12, 2022, read online.
About the Author
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and a former adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book After “I Believe” is now available on Amazon or your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit churchandculture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive, read the latest church and culture news from around the world, and listen to the Church & Culture Podcast. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @JamesEmeryWhite.
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and a former professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, Hybrid Church: Rethinking the Church for a Post-Christian Digital Age, is now available on Amazon or from your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit churchandculture.org where you can view past blogs in our archive, read the latest church and culture news from around the world, and listen to the Church & Culture Podcast. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @JamesEmeryWhite.