Gen Z Vocabulary: How Not To Sound Old

Tori Tornreviewed byNataliia Afonina / more about Editorial Process14 min
Created: Nov 15, 2022Last updated: Jan 10, 2024
Gen Z Vocabulary

The older generation on TikTok is the people who were born in the late 90s. And if you felt disappointment, frustration, and rejection when you watched a video with that sound on TikTok, we predict you might have problems understanding generation Z vocabulary. Breathe in and breathe out, oldie. 

Hitting it off with Gen Z slang words can be challenging, but it is definitely possible. We are not the youngest people here in terms of what TikTok says. That is why we are positive about what we are promising next. You will understand the assignment after reading this article. No clue what we meant in the previous sentence? No worries, we won't call you a boomer because of that. Briefly, you cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs. So, it's time for you to familiarize yourself with the Gen Z slang dictionary we made for you. If you think it's too late to be rescued from the old lexicon, our answer is better late than never!

Gen Z Vocabulary For Everyone Who Wants To Feel Belong

If you have been on Twitter or TikTok recently, you have noticed that the lingo that the younger generation use is different. Some words and phrases can seem almost recognizable, which can't help but make you happy. But other Gen Z slang terms can make you feel as ancient as a mummy. The reason for that happening is increasing globalization and instant digital communication. New words emerge so fast, so to keep up with them, you should almost be present at the moment of their occurrence. 

But what to do if you missed that moment and have zero ideas what Zoomers are talking about now? First of all, don't stress; we all are in the same boat of being unenlightened on the topic. Second, nowadays, people create more than 5400 words yearly, and only nearly 1000 are added to the dictionary. So, no wonder you don't know all the new words. 

We recommend you focus on the Gen Z vocabulary that is the most common and used right now. To help you fit into the Zoomer's world, we created a list of Gen Z slang that you absolutely have to know these days. Welcome on board!

Bomb Nouns In Zommer Slang

Big Brain

When you make the dumbest decisions of your life, probably, you can feel like your brain shrinks. But Gen Z would call you a big brain to show the irony or sarcasm in such moments. 

Example: There was no time, so I just opened that box with a knife. Who knew there was my favorite sweater right behind the tape. What a big brain I am. 

Cancel culture

Just one wrong saying today, and you will be canceled, meaning you will be thrust out of social or professional circles. And cancel culture is a modern phenomenon that emphasizes calling out mostly famous people or brands for their behavior or statements that are not accepted in today's society. 

Example: Just one suicide joke and the cancel culture ended his career on social media. 


It's a popular name in the US that became a term that refers to a popular, sexually active "alpha" white male. It can be used as an insult to label a toxically masculine man. 

Example: You shouldn't go out with this Tinder guy; he is a typical Chad. 


CEO is an abbreviation that in real life decodes as Chief Executive Officer. It has a similar meaning in slang on social media but is a bit shifted. A CEO is a person who is a master at something. 

Example: Meghan Trainor is the CEO of TikTok dance trends. 


A clapback is a quick, sharp, and meaningful reaction to an insult or criticism in your address. It got its name because some people have a habit of clapping their hands together in rhythm with their words.

Example: It was a high risk to call her extra. The clapback that she got was unfair. 


There was a time when millennials called their friends, bro. But Gen Z went further. They changed that to fam as a family to demonstrate their attitude towards close friends. 

Example: We met during a hard time in my life, but you have been such a good friend to me that I can call you my fam now. 


Sadly, people in the US cannot give their kids certain names anymore unless they want their kids to suffer from bullying at school. One such name is Karen. It's a slang term for an angry, racist middle-aged woman who constantly complains about everything and tries to defend her rights as privileges of being white. 

There is even a unique restaurant with awful service called Karen in the US. Waiters there treat their clients as rudely as possible on purpose. Yet, people love to go there with friends who have no idea about the specifics of the place and watch their reactions.  

Example: The other day in church, I met a real Karen. She complained that "the show" was low quality the previous Sunday. Unimaginable. 


If a Gen Z kid calls you MOM or DAD, there is nothing to be upset about. They don't think of you as an old person. On the contrary, it's the best compliment ever from a Zoomer. Being called MOM or DAD means they see you as an icon and jokingly would love to be adopted by you. So, chill. 

Example: I love Beyonce! MOM!


This slang term means that a person feels the same emotions as you; they can relate to your feelings. 

Example: "The new season of Corona is so dramatic." – "Mood." 

Pick-me girl

We assume that in every group at school was a girl that desired boys` attention so hard that she kept throwing herself at them and tried to do everything to be cool. That's a pick-me girl. Such girls seek male validation to be chosen as the best ones. Quite pathetic. 

Example: Mellany has always been doing stupid things in front of boys. She is such a pick-me girl. 


A simp is not a new word, but it became popular again because of TikTok when influencers started to use it in their videos in 2019. Unfortunately, the term is sexist and is used in an insulting manner. It means a submissive man who desperately tries to win sexual attention from women in any way. 

Example: George from "Grey's Anatomy" is such a simp. 


It means a very attractive person, so good-looking you would eat them if they were food. 

Example: McDreamy from "Grey's Anatomy" is a snack. 


The slang combines "stalker" and "fan," which means a crazy and obsessed fan. It is assumed that the word originally comes from the Eminem song about a fan Stan who became obsessed with the rapper.

Example: A few nights ago, I met a guy in a club in Barcelona. He seemed nice at first, but he started to behave like Stan lately. 


The word is a mashup of swag (refers to stylish confidence) and daddy. So to let a man know he knows how to dress, looks hot, and is intelligent, Zoomers came up with the word zaddy. Slang is all about keeping it short and precise. 

Example: Have you heard that Chris Evans has been named "Sexiest Man Alive"? I agree with that, he is zaddy. 

Generation Z Slang Adjectives That Are Popping


That is how gen Z kids describe something basic, uncool, or out of trend. With this slang, they usually are mocking a person. 

Example: I can't believe they think "Gilmore Girls" is cheugy. 

Cringe – uncomfortable, awkward, or embarrassed. 

Example: It's hard to find a romantic movie on Netflix that isn't cringe. 

Low key – chill, easygoing, quiet, or laid-back. 

Example: Low key wishing I had Jared Leto's phone number. 

Salty – upset or sad. 

Example: The Weekend canceled his concert right after it started because he lost his voice. I couldn't be more salty about it. 

Savage – wild or viciously cool.  

Example: This guy has just completed the most intense dancing routine I have ever seen. He is so savage. 

Shook – to be very shocked or surprised. 

Example: I loved a new Will Smith video, but it was a shook experience for him, for sure. 

Snatched – looking good, attractive. 

Example: Doja Cat looked absolutely snatched wearing that bodysuit with a hole in her booty area. 

Thirsty – desperate for attention, in need of affection. 

Example: He has texted me twice for the past 10 minutes and is 100% thirsty af. 

Woke – well-informed, aware of something. 

Example: When working in marketing, you have to be woke all the time since everything changes rapidly. 


GOAT Gen Z Slang Terms That Slaps

Beat someone's face

The next question is for people who wear makeup. Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror after applying your makeup, thinking, "I am God's favorite"? That is a true definition of the slang phrase "beat someone's face." 

Example: Mario is a genius makeup artist. He always beats Kim Kardashian's face. 

Catch these hands

It might get very dangerous if you don't know what this phrase is about. When a person says that you will catch these hands, they mean you will catch their hands with your face. They want to punch you and are ready for the fight. 

Example: Do not start with me on that again; otherwise, you will catch these hands. 

Hits different

Every user on social media overuses this phrase. For Zoomers, anything slightly better hits different now, meaning something affects you more than usual. 

Example: This cake is a masterpiece; it truly hits different. 

I'm baby

Adults use this slang to present their lack of basic knowledge or skills as adorable and cute. 

Example: I don't know how to do laundry; I'm baby. 

No cap

The term "no cap" wasn't created by Gen Z. Actually, people started to use it in the early 1900s. In black slang, "to cap" meant "to brag, exaggerate, or lie." Zommers took the slang "no cap" to their vocabulary from hip-hop music.

Example: I need to know the truth, darling; no cap here. 

OK boomer

Even though Gen Z and Millennials are quite different, they still have something in common. For instance, they do not like when the older generation comments something about them in terms of their age. When that happens, they will fight back but only with one phrase "OK boomer." It is a clapback from a younger generation. The slang can also be used ironically to respond to anybody, regardless of age. 

Example: "This dress is too revealing!" – "OK boomer." 


This slang word means to be excellent or amazing. Initially, it became popular after a famous rapper, E-40, used it to describe the intense bass of his music beating on his trunk. 

Example: I love the song; it slaps. 


It means to do something so well to the point that everybody is impressed. 

Example: The way you handled that situation…. You slayed it!

Understood the assignment

This slang phrase is a way to praise someone who puts 110% effort into anything they do. It can be dressing well, finding a good job, kissing well, etc. Gen Z turned the phrase into slang after the sound with it got trending on TikTok. 

Example: He called his friends the minute his sister gave him the keys to her apartment. The guy understood the assignment. 


It's an exclamation that usually demonstrates excitement. There is even a popular baby on TikTok that got famous for pouring liquids with his uncle and yelling yeet all the time

Example: Marley is a yeet baby. Yeet!

Gen Z Slang List Of Top Acronyms

Abbreviations play a crucial role in communication between Gen Z babies. It seems like Zoomers got so busy with whatever, or they are just too cool to use the whole word, so they came up with new acronyms that we need to memorize now. Zoomers use them all the time – on social media, in texts, and real-life conversations. Whether you like it or not, you must know all the acronyms those kids use for effective communication. Here's the list. 

AF – as f*ck

Example: It was a dope weekend, but I got tired af. 

FOMO – fear of missing out

Example: Nobody told me about yesterday's party; now I have FOMO. 

Fr – for real

Example: Didn't you know she had a boyfriend, fr?

GOAT – greatest of all time. 

Example: Meryl Stip is a true GOAT. 

GRWM – get ready with me

Example: I'm thinking of starting to post on TikTok. Are the GRWM videos still hot?

Ion – I don't

Example: Ion want to feel old because of the Gen Z slang. 

IRL – in real life

Example: It's not a computer game; we are IRL. 

IYKYK – if you know you know

Example: It's our joke, IYKYK. 

NGL – Not Gonna Lie

Example: NGL, my life has become pretty intense lately. 

TBH – to be honest

Example: TBH, that's not even my problem, so do it yourself. 

TF – the f*uck

Example: Henry, you had to be grounded at home for another four days! TF have you done?

TFW – that feeling when

Example: It's TFW, when he proposed to me was the best in my life. 

W/L – Winner/Loser

Example: I just failed my exam; what an L I am.

Tips On How To Text Like Pro With Gen Z Slang Words

It is common knowledge that Millennials and Gen Z prefer texting over calling. That is why it is vital to understand how to text with Zoomers. 

First, forget about capitalizing letters. In Gen Z culture, it's insulting to start your sentences with a capitalized letter. People can think you are mad or even screaming at them. However, you are allowed to capitalize letters to express excitement or laughter. 

Second, master short communication – go to the point right away and keep your message brief. If you need to deliver a Zoomer a lot of information via texting, we recommend you to break your message into several small ones. Otherwise, they will leave you on read. And don't forget to use inclusive language to keep your conversation gender-neutral. 

Third, the words you use in communication with Gen Z actually matter. When Gen Z vocab may seem too immature or ridiculous, sometimes it is also conventional. Zoomers underline that speaking too properly daily and texting makes them feel uncomfortable, judged, and stressed. And since kids are our future and they make progress, we are the ones who should adapt to their new rules. Even if it's texting rules and using generation Z slang words. 

How To Learn Gen Z Slang With Promova?

The Promova platform is your best bud and partner in crime in English learning. We know how badly you want to reach fluency in English, and we can definitely help you. We have several offers on how to level up your English through English. 

First, the Promova app provides bite-sized lessons with the most adorable, fun, and wholesome flashcards and manuals for memorizing new English vocabulary and learning essential grammar. It is free to download and use anytime and anywhere. We created lessons for all English levels so you won't get bored. You can even learn some popular slang with our flashcards. That will improve your listening and speaking skills in English. 

Second, Promova offers a private tutoring program with certified native-like teachers worldwide. You can choose a tutor for your needs, and they will create a personalized learning plan counting your interests. We give our tutors professional teaching materials such as Cambridge University Press to guide your educational process in the best way. But tutors always are ready to come up with new learning options and methods in your best interests. Book a lesson with a native speaker, a conversational teacher, or a tutor with your preferred native accent – American, British or Australian – and dive into Gen Z slang with them. Most likely, your teacher will be a millennial, so they feel your pain; they were in your place and can take the burden off your shoulders. 

Third, you can join the Promova free conversation club. Every week our students gather together for more speaking practice on different topics. We work in small groups, which allows every student to have time to speak. Every class is themed, but you can always put Gen Z slang into the conversation since it is a pretty informal practice. To become a part of the Promova free conversation club, pick a topic you are interested in advance and don't be shy to participate in the conversation. The only requirement is for your English level to be B1 or above. 

For the best results, you can combine all mentioned above. Promova is determined to help you become fluent. Your progress is our best treat.  


Talking to Gen Z can be intimidating if you are unfamiliar with their slang. But after reading this article, you can pass one of the kids. What's going on on social media becomes clearer; the songs suddenly make sense now, and life becomes colorful. Because you don't need to check the meaning of the slang words Gen Z uses or pretend that you got what they were talking about. Practicing Gen Z vocab helps you to reach the fluency level of native speakers. The slang makes your speech more vibrant and authentic in terms of American culture. 


What is Gen Z?

It might be difficult for boomers to get where Millennials end and Gen Z begins. But those two generations themselves know who is who by different indicators. Moreover, they differ in their attitude towards almost everything, but for now, let's focus on the most crucial factor for recognizing Gen Z members from Millennials. 

In world culture, by Gen Z people understand those born between 1997 and 2012. The Oxford Dictionaries defines Zoomers as "being familiar with the use of digital technology, the internet, and social media from a very young age." That is true due to the growing progress and popularity of tech. 

However, in reality, people born in the late 90s can identify as Millennials because they didn't have a lot of experience with technology and the internet at a young age since it wasn't accessible for them in most cases. They weren't raised in contact with social media simply because Instagram wasn't created until 2010, and Facebook wasn't fun for kids. Being Gen Z by the year of birth, people born in the late 90s have Millennials experience and relate to them more than to Zoomers. 

What do people understand by slang?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines "slang" as a vocabulary used between people who belong to the same social group and know each other well. People come up with new slang words in English as the language evolves, and the necessity of a new lexicon becomes substantial. 

Slang is an informal part of the language used in conversational speech. Even though Gen Z tries to incorporate slang in written communication, such as email, linguistic innovations still have boundaries. So the best occasions to use slang are social media, texting, and convos with your pals. 

Can Zoomers recognize millennials by the words they use?

The answer is probably yes. Gen Z could tell that someone doesn't belong to their world if they don't operate the lingo or do it unnaturally, trying to fit in. Risking to seem old-fashioned by saying next, but all ages are beautiful in their own way, which means, in this case, that the linguistic code of every generation is unique and distinctive in its way. So, there is nothing wrong with sticking to the Millennials' slang if you simultaneously stay up to date with new Gen Z slang. 

What emojis use Generation Z?

Nowadays, you can quickly be taken as passive-aggressive because of the wrong emoji. Gen Z cancels our favorite ones because of the double meaning and offensive subtext. To avoid miscommunication between generations, you need to know what emojis Zoomers use. For instance, the most trending now is the skull emoji 💀 for laughing hard, the loudly crying face emoji 😭 indicating something adorable, the emoji combination 👁️👄👁️ meaning that something is shocking, etc. Click here to read more about Gen Z using emojis 🙏. 


PromovaSep 29th, 2023
It depends on their goals. If learners aim to engage in contemporary conversations, especially online, understanding Gen Z vocabulary can be valuable. However, learners should also prioritize mastering standard English to ensure effective communication in various contexts.
Jairo BrightSep 29th, 2023
Is it important for english learners to be familiar with gen z vocabulary?
PromovaJun 29th, 2023
Yes, the article mentions several interesting and unique slang and expressions used by Generation Z. Some examples include "lit," which means exciting or amazing, "savage," used to describe someone who is bold or fierce, and "on fleek," meaning something that looks perfect or flawless. These expressions reflect the creativity and innovation of Gen Z in shaping their own language and cultural identity.
Nathan GordonJun 29th, 2023
Are there any specific slang or expressions mentioned in the article that you find particularly interesting or unique to Generation Z?