Quick quiz: Do you understand this teen slang?
Give me the tea!
That’s so swag.
I ship you with Jonah.
If you feel lost when preteens and teens utter phrases like these, you are not alone. Slang is continually evolving, making it difficult for adults to keep up. Yet, slang offers a sneak peek into the everyday lives of adolescents.
The list below shares current slang. A word of caution, definitions may differ depending on age and geographic region. And, since trends change quickly, some of these phrases may already be on their way out in your area.
Preteen and Teen Slang
- Tea – Teens use the word “tea” to describe gossip. “Tell me the tea” is a way of finding out the latest social news about who likes who, who is “talking” (see definition below), who is breaking up, and other gossip.
- Talking – “Talking” means two people are in the stage of figuring out if they want to enter into a relationship. When a teen says, “They are talking,” it indicates two people are getting to know each other. Conversations are usually online via text or direct message rather than in-person.
- Swag, Fire Lit, Sic – These words are used to describe something cool or awesome. For example, a teen might say, “This class is really swag” or “That’s sic!”
- Sadfishing – Teens may not know the term “sadfishing,” but they will likely recognize the behavior. Sadfishing is when someone posts their personal struggles on social media to get attention and support. Social media fills an essential need for social connection for many teens, but sadfishing may backfire. The post may fall flat, or a person might receive responses that make them feel worse.
- Shipping – “Shipping” is a middle school phrase that describes informal matchmaking. For example, a student might say to Julia, “I ship you with Max,” because she thinks Julia would be a good match with Max. “Shipping” is done mostly for entertainment and typically does not end up in actual matches.
- Simp or Simping – Urban dictionary defines a simp as “someone who does way too much for a person they like.” “He’s such a simp” tends to be a derogatory phrase or a form of teasing to describe a guy doing things to be kind to or impress a girl they like. Some challenge the term because it prioritizes being distant and aloof over being kind and sensitive when courting a partner.
To prompt eye-rolls and groans, casually drop one of these phrases when chatting with your teen. Okay, maybe not. It’s hard for anyone over the age of thirty to pull off slang, but understanding what teens are talking about helps adults stay informed and engaged in their lives.
Heard any new slang in your house or community? Please share!
About Jessica Speer:
Jessica Speer is an author and speaker that focuses on helping kids and families thrive. Her book, BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends), releases July 2021. Visit www.JessicaSpeer.com to learn more, follow her blog, or connect on social media.