Understanding Gen Z slang can be a bit of a minefield, especially if you aren’t a part of this generation. Born in 2002, I am an official member of Generation Z, and even I sometimes find myself having to hop on to Urban Dictionary or TikTok to find out exactly what a new word or phrase means.
So with that being said, I present to you my top 13 Gen Z slang that every marketer should know!
1. CEO 💻
If you are the CEO of something, this means you have mastered it or are the best at it. For example, “You are the CEO of Paid Social” just means that you are really good at Paid Social (like we are at Ditly😉).
2. Cancelled ❌
Cancel culture is huge on social media especially and can sometimes even mean the end of an influencer or brand! If someone or something gets cancelled, their actions or words will get publicly shamed and slammed online. A mild version of being cancelled would be being “called out”.
3. Clap back 👏🏼
A clap back is basically a response, often to an insult, dig, allegation or critique. It’s not usually an apology but more a sharp and quick reply. For example, “Someone left a hate comment but they clapped back” means that they responded to whatever critical comment was left.
4. Glow Up ✨
A glow up is a transformation from something meh to something beautiful. This could be a person having a big glow up from teenager to adult or even a smaller glow up e.g. before and after makeup. “Glow up” can also be used to talk about things other than people, for example, Instagram has had a huge glow up from when it first was created.
5. Deep it/ Deep 🤔
“Deeping” something means thinking in depth or overthinking about something. If something is “not that deep” then this means it doesn’t really matter or it’s not worth worrying over. For example, “If you actually deep it, it’s not that deep” means: if you really think about it, it’s not that big of a problem.
6. Snatched 💅
Although snatched also means to grab something from someone, in Gen Z terms the word snatched is used to say that someone or something looks really good or even perfect. It’s often used when complimenting the way someone looks, for example, “Looking snatched” would mean that that person looks really good.
7. Hits Different 👌
If something hits different, this means that it’s more enjoyable or satisfying than it usually is or than an alternative is or would be. For example “Iced coffee hits different in the morning” would mean that it is more satisfying in the morning than any other part of the day.
8. Tea ☕️
Essentially, tea just means gossip. So instead of saying “Okay tell me the gossip” the more Gen Z way to say this would be “Okay spill the tea”. Another way to use ‘tea’ is the phrase “sips tea”. This means basically just minding your business, sitting back and listening to the gossip as opposed to spilling it.
9. Slaps 👋
Slaps can be used in a similar way to “hits different” and basically is used to emphasise how great something is. For example, “This song slaps” just means that it’s a really good song.
10. Stan 💗
Stan is another way of saying that you love or are a fan of something. If you “stan” something it just means you’re obsessed with it or you love it a lot.
11. High Key/ Low Key 🧐
“Low-key” is a way of expressing an opinion that may be different from how the majority feel or how you should feel. It refers to something you wouldn’t necessarily openly share with the public but is how you feel. For example, “Low-key I prefer Instagram Reels to TikTok”.
Alternatively “high-key” just means an opinion you have that is shared by many other people. For example “High-key I miss being able to see follower activity in Instagram”.
12. Living Rent Free 💭
This phrase is just a way of saying that something is on your mind or has been for a while. For example, “That TikTok is living rent free in my head.” just means you can’t stop thinking about that TikTok. It can also be used as an insult against someone. Saying you “live rent free” in their head means they’re almost obsessed with you and can’t stop thinking or talking about you.
13. Ate 🍽
“Ate” is basically like a stamp of approval. If someone “ate that” this means that they pulled something off or did well. This could be used in most contexts, even a marketing campaign! For example, if you were watching an advert and someone said “they ate that” this would just mean they did a good job with the advert.
Another big Gen Z trend to be aware of is linking everything to a TikTok sound or trend. One of the phrases I hear most from my friends is something along the lines of ‘This is like that TikTok…’ or ‘Omg do you know that TikTok that goes like…’
A good current example of a Gen Z phrase that has come from a viral TikTok sound is “This is perfect. Perfect, perfect, perfect”. So instead of simply just saying something is perfect, this TikTok would get quoted instead. If there’s a TikTok sound that links to whatever is happening, you can almost bet on at least one Gen Z quoting the TikTok!
You can now officially call yourself the CEO of Gen Z slang… hope these were helpful! 😊