Confused by teenage slang? We share the meanings behind 123 terms your teen might use (and #38 explains a lot)

 Teenager laughing or cringing at parent.
Teenager laughing or cringing at parent.

If you’ve ever glanced at your teen’s phone and wondered if they’ve taken up a second language, or stared blankly at them when they tell you that they “highkey want that”, welcome to the world of parenting teenagers.

Teens love pushing boundaries, carving out their own identities, ignoring you (we helpfully cover this in our 'are you even listening to me' article) and setting their own agendas. That’s pretty much their job and is one of the reasons that teen-ternity is a thing (read all about it in our helpful explainer Why teen-ternity is a popular option). No sooner have parents grasped the teen slang phrases than the language moves on, driven by memes, gaming, influencers, music and social media, to name just a few. “Teenagers and slang have a special bond, according to linguist expert Joe McGowan. “Language is a living, breathing thing, and teens are at the forefront of pushing its boundaries.”

It might feel like your teen is always on social media and they probably are, to be honest, and that's where a lot of slang is used, it's crucial to how teenagers communicate with each other. It allows them to connect with others, express who they are, and set themselves apart from other groups. Teens use slang a lot when talking in person and online. However, there are certain phrases we need to be aware of, as they may be a red flag, either for your teen’s behaviour or someone they’re talking to. We’ve got bare Gucci slang phrases and we ain’t cappin. Plus, how teens talk about sex and phrases and acronyms that are instant red flags for parents to be aware of.

Teen slang 2024

General slang terms

  1. And I oop: Used when something catches you off guard or is really surprising or provocative

  2. Bait: Obvious

  3. Bare: Many

  4. BDE: Big d*** energy

  5. Bougie/boujee: High class, rich, fancy

  6. Bussin’: Awesome

  7. Cake: Used to describe a large bottom

  8. Canon event: A moment in development that will help shape your life or personality

  9. Cappin’: Lying

  10. Caught in 4k: To catch someone in the act

  11. Cheugy: Someone or something that is basic, out of date, or trying too hard

  12. Cursed: Unsettling or creepy

  13. Ded: Used when something is really funny or embarrassing

  14. Delulu: Delusional 

  15. Do it for the plot: Said to encourage oneself to take a chance on something

  16. Drip: Style, great fashion sense, flashy accessories

  17. Era: A substitute for phase, inspired by Taylor Swift's Era album.

  18. FINSTA: Fake Instagram account

  19. Flex: Show off

  20. Gucci: Something good or cool

  21. Highkey: Very interested in

  22. Hits different: When something is better than it normally is

  23. ISO: In search of

  24. IYKYK: If you know, you know

  25. Keep it 100: Be true to yourself

  26. Left no crumbs: Ddid something perfectly

  27. Lit: Amazing, cool, or exciting

  28. Lowkey: Somewhat interested in 

  29. Mid: Insult meaning low quality or average

  30. Mood: A relatable feeling or situation

  31. No cap: Used to indicate that someone is not lying

  32. OFC: Short for of course

  33. OK, Boomer: Calling out an idea that is outdated or resistant to change

  34. PMOYS: Acronym that stands for 'put me on your Snapchat'

  35. Rizz: Word to describe someone's ablity to flirt, like 'Lee just tried to rizz up Sophie - it didn't work'

  36. Salty: To be bitter or cross about something

  37. Same: I can relate

  38. Say less: I understand

  39. Shading: Gossip about someone else

Rizz - short for charisma
Rizz - short for charisma
  1. Sic/Sick: Cool or sweet

  2. Sigma: A male who is popular but is also a loner who separates himself from the crowd

  3. Slay: To be extremely stylish or successful

  4. Sleep on: To be ignorant of something or someone's value

  5. Slaps: Used to express that something is awesome

  6. Snatched: On point, very good, or well-styled

  7. Stan: An overzealous or obsessive fan of a particular celebrity

  8. Swoop: To be picked up in a car

  9. Tea: Gossip or interesting news 

  10. Vibing: Chilling out, having a good time, or identifying with a certain kind of energy

  11. Woke: Socially or politically conscious

  12. WYA: Where you at?

  13. WYD: What you doing?

  14. YAAS: A very emphatic yes

  15. YEET:  A very strong word for yes.

Sex and relationship slang

  1. Bae: Significant other or crush

  2. Beige flag: Between red flag and green flag, offputting, not enough for rejection

  3. Body count: The number of people someone has slept with

  4. Boo: One’s significant other

  5. Catch feels: To develop romantic feelings for someone

  6. Catfish: Someone who pretends to be someone they’re not on social media

  7. Chad: A hyper-sexual young man

  8. Coney: Slang for penis

  9. D: Short for d***

  10. Daddy: An attractive man, usually older, who conveys a sense of power

  11. Dongle: Slang for penis

  12. FBOI: F**k boy; a guy just looking for sex

  13. FWB: Friends with benefits

  14. LMP: Like my pic

  15. Meal: Someone who looks good enough to eat

Teenager shocked at phone
Teenager shocked at phone
  1. Netflix and chill: Getting together and hooking up

  2. Peng: Attractive

  3. Ship: Short for relationship

  4. Simp: Somebody who tries very hard and does a lot for their crush

  5. Situationship: Not just friends but also not really in a relationship

  6. Skeet: To ejaculate

  7. Slim thick/thicc: 'Ideal' female body shape (tiny waist, big bottom and breasts)

  8. Smash: Casual sex

  9. Snack: Describes an attractive person

  10. Stealthing: Secretly removing a condom during sex

  11. TDTM: Talk dirty to me

  12. Thicc: Having an attractive, curvy body

  13. Thirsty: Desperate for attention, usually sexual attention

  14. Thot: Stands for that ho over there and is often used instead of slut

  15. WAP: Wet ass p*ssy

  16. Zaddy: A well-dressed, attractive man

Parties and drugs slang

  1. 420: Marijuana reference

  2. Addy: Short for Adderall, an ADHD medication used recreationally.

  3. Dabbing: Concentrated dose of cannabis

  4. DTF: Down to f***, as in 'are you DTF?'

  5. Food: Cannabis or other drugs

  6. Gas: Marijuana, something that’s cool, or to hype someone up

  7. Hentai: Graphic anime pornography

  8. Hulk: A 2mg green benzodiazepine bar

  9. Juul/Juuling: Type of ecigarette, vaping

  10. Lit/Turnt/Turnt Up: Stoned or drunk, active or popular

  11. Plug: A drug dealer or contact for drugs

  12. School Bus: A 2mg Xanax, which is yellow

  13. Turnt: Excited and having a good time, often with drugs or alcohol

  14. X: Ecstasy

  15. Xan/Xans: Short for Xanax, a sedative often used recreationally

Red flag slang

  1. 9: Code 9, handgun

  2. 53x: Sex

  3. ASL: Age, sex, location

  4. Cheffing: Stabbing 

  5. CU46: See you for sex

  6. Dayger: Daytime rager (erection)

  7. Dipping: Stabbing

  8. Duppying: Killing

  9. GNOC: Get naked on camera

  10. KMS: Kill myself

Teen upset at phone
Teen upset at phone
  1. KPC: Keep parents clueless

  2. KYS: Kill yourself

  3. LMIRL : Let's meet in real life

  4. Menty b: Shorthand for mental breakdown

  5. Molly: MDMA, an illegal drug

  6. NIFOC: Naked in front of computer

  7. Plug: Stab or shoot, refers to a drug contact or supply

  8. Receipts: Proof of something (like screenshots or pictures)

  9. Spinners: Guns

  10. Swords: Knives 

  11. Toys: Drugs or drug paraphernalia, cars or guns

  12. Trap phone: Also called a burner phone

  13. WTTP : Want to trade photos?

Why do kids use slang?

“Slang becomes a badge of belonging to a peer group and a way to shape their identity,” says linguist expert Joe McGowan. “It's also a way to differentiate themselves from older siblings or adults who might try to use their outdated slang.”

In other words, using slang not only allows your teenage to feel like they’re being rebellious or noncomformist, but it can also, perhaps ironically, help them feel like they’re part of their social circles and give them a sense of connection to their peers.

Of course, some teens will use slang to deliberately keep their conversations with friends and other acquaintances secret. Using coded terms and messages can flummox parents who simply tune out.

When should I be worried about my kid’s slang?

“Slang use is normal and healthy in teenagers,” reassures McGowan. “It demonstrates their creativity and grasp of language rules. As long as they can communicate effectively in standard English for schoolwork and formal situations, excessive slang probably isn't a cause for alarm. However, if a teen struggles with grammar or engaging in meaningful conversations, gently encouraging the use of standard English might be helpful.”

However, she warns that parents should be aware of some slang terms. “While most are harmless expressions of youth culture, some words and phrases may raise red flags for parents, particularly if they are derogatory, offensive, or perpetuate harmful stereotypes. Slang that promotes racism, misogyny, homophobia, or violence should be addressed promptly and taken seriously. Parents should openly communicate with their children about the implications of such language and reinforce values of respect, inclusivity, and empathy.”

Although we’ve provided some red flag terms here that can be a warning of violence, street crime or sexual crimes, some of these terms can be used innocently by young people without any of their darker connotations. Writing for The Conversation, Tony Thorne, Director of Slang and New Language Archive at King's College London, says, “Authorities have to get to grips with the slang young people use to communicate. But the relationship between the street slang used by many young people every day and the secret codes deployed by gang members while planning and boasting about crimes is not always straightforward and lends itself to misunderstandings.”

Where to turn to for extra help in communicating with your teenager

There are plenty of family therapy services and organisations dedicated to improving communication and relationships between parents and teenagers.

Family Lives offers online advice by age group, as well as a live chat, confidential helpline, parenting forum and email support, They can also signpost you to parenting services in your local area.

Young Minds is another charity that provides mental health support for parents and young people. It includes advice on how to talk to your teenager and support for professionals such as youth club workers and football coaches. Young Minds also offers a parents helpline and a confidential phone chat, live chat or email for kids under 19 years old.

FRANK offers help and advice to young people and parents about peer pressure, drugs, and alcohol. It has a 24-hour phoneline that’s open 7 days a week. It also offers a texting and email service.

Discover more effective ways to communicate with your teenager, from 25 conversation starters to the one question you should ask your teenager to improve your relationship immediately. Plus, what to expect when your teenager starts dating and how to get them to talk to you about it.