Keeping Up with Student Slang

Author: Tez Brooks

Understand Their Definitions

How often have you heard kids say things you don’t fully understand? Children have invented their own language forever. It’s called slang and with the addition of the internet and social media, new words and their meanings spread and evolve at an alarming rate. What used to take years to embrace, understand, and popularize, now takes days.

Kid's Slang

With hundreds of students passing you in the school halls, you hear slang much more than parents or other adults. Rather than ignore or reject these new phrases, it’s vital to (at the very least) understand their definitions.

One thing to keep in mind is that these phrases are not code words purposely created to alienate adults. You don’t need to remain in the dark. If you are curious about a new word or phrase, just ask. Most students will feel honored that you consider them an authority on the topic. They will gladly tell you.

However, if you try to use their vocabulary yourself, you may get some snickers, and lose your cool factor. These are meant for use among their age group and it just won’t sound right if you try too hard to converse in their language. If you must use them, do so sparingly.

With that in mind, here are twenty slang phrases to assist you in becoming more connected and aware of students’ conversations. As you learn these, be aware within a few years, many of these will be considered old-school or obsolete. But for now, dive in and learn a new language.

  1. Cap = Lying (Ex: “I didn’t even study and still passed the exam, no cap!”)
  2. Let her (or him) cook = Something you whisper to your friends when you don’t think anyone should interfere. It’s what you say when someone decides to take on the entire opposing sports team by themselves. The phrase is essentially the moment you decide to let your friend step into a situation in their own way, as you silently support from the sidelines. (Ex: “I think Jenna is trying to get the school principal to arrange a field trip. Let her cook.”)
  3. Drip = Refers to a cool outfit or accessory. (Ex: “Girl, your shoes are drip!”)
  4. Left on red (read) = Has nothing to do with a traffic light. Its about being ignored. When you text someone and they read it without responding.
  5. Cheugy = Awkward or cringy. Specifically used when describing trends from early to mid-2000s.
  6. Lewk = Has nothing to do with Luke Skywalker. It’s a way of describing someone’s look or signature trait that makes them unique. (Ex: “Ian’s shaved head and cleft chin are lewk!”)
  7. G = A term of endearment among friends. (Ex: “What up G?)
  8. Ship = Short for relationship. Used when they see two people together and predict they will form a romantic connection. “Look, Sean is talking to Becca. I ship those two! Or “Have you heard Miss Smith and the new coach are shipped?”
  9. Ate and left no crumbs = Used when someone does an exceptional job at something. “Sean’s debate speech ate and left no crumbs.”
  10. Basic = Used to describe those who lack originality and enjoy mainstream things.
  11. Touch Grass = A way of calling attention to being online so long you’re losing touch with reality. “I just cried because I saw a video of the Mars rover singing happy birthday to itself. I need to go touch grass.” Or “Jordon, put the phone down and touch grass.”
  12. Bop = A great song. “The new Katy Perry song is a bop.”
  13. Lowkey = Has nothing to do with Loki from the Avengers movies. When someone doesn’t want everyone to know what they’re saying. “Lowkey I’m failing Math.” Could also be used to mean “kind of,” as in “I lowkey love this song.” Antonym: High key (i.e. not trying to hide it; proclaiming to the world).
  14. Bussin’ = Used for defining the goodness of food. Used twice in a row if the food is really spectacular. “This burger is bussin! The milkshake is BUSSIN’ bussin’!”
  15. Catch these hands = To fight. (Ex: “You ‘bout to catch these hands if you don’t stop harassing my friend.”)
  16. Bougie/boujee = Classy, rich, fancy (from “bourgeois”).
  17. Aesthetic = Your “vibe.” “I don’t get Madonna’s aesthetic.” “I love the aesthetic of your tattoos.”
  18. POV = Means “Point of View.” Refers to a situation that stands out. (Ex: “POV you drink too much cold brew and can’t stop talking.”)
  19. Sending = Making you laugh or sending you over the edge. (Ex: “Bruh, stop with the impersonations you’re sending me.”
  20. Rent Free = When something occupies space in your head. (Ex: “I hate that song but it’s rent-free now.)

Learning is a continual process and can truly be a joy of discovery for us all. ISP has the privilege of mentoring educators like you to understand and utilize new concepts to increase your effectiveness as an educator. Staying aware of your students’ communication styles is one way to stay relevant.

For more helpful tips for teachers, check out our Facebook site.

[Partially adapted from “A Parent’s Guide to Teen Slang” by Axis]

About the Author

Tez Brooks

About the author: Tez Brooks is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and international speaker. He currently serves on our Communications team at ISP. Tez’s work can be found in publications across the US. He and his wife Christine have four children.

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