Teen Slang Danger Signs You Need to Know

Some slang words are harmless, but others are warning signs of danger ahead.
12 min read
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Image Credit: Hero Images/Hero Images/Getty Images

Welcome to the World of Teen Slang

Lost? Confused? Unable to understand your teens? Don’t worry; you’re in good company. Keeping up with teen slang is nearly impossible. New words are constantly being introduced, thanks to the influence of music, the Internet, apps, social media, and celebrities (not to mention regional vernacular!). You may feel overwhelmed and lost, and it’ll only get worse when reading social media posts and hashtags.

Use this guide as a reference for what’s widely popular right now in order to translate what teenagers are saying.

Editor’s Note: This post was adapted from A Parent’s Guide to Teen Slang from Axis.

Be Aware Of

AF = As F***. Used to emphasize something: “It’s hot af in here.”

ASMR = Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. An Internet trend of making videos with different sounds to elicit a physical response (e.g. goosebumps) from viewers.

BDE = Big D*** Energy. A compliment because it’s a metaphor to signify that someone has the confidence of a well-endowed man. It’s the opposite of being cocky or having toxic masculinity. It is often applied to both men and women.

Cancel = To delete someone or something out of your life. “I cancelled that guy from Tinder. It wasn’t working out.”

Clapback = The new word for “comeback.”

Cringey = Cringe-worthy, awkward.

Curve = To reject someone romantically or sexually.

Fak = “Safe” version of the f-bomb.

Finsta = Fake Instagram. Usually it’s someone’s second, less-public Instagram account, often used to be more real and raw than on one’s primary account. Can also be used to lurk on someone in a more low-key way.

FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out. Many teens feel this because of social media’s ability to highlight everyone else’s activities. Antonym: JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out, i.e. finding joy in one’s ability to commit to and enjoy one thing at a time.)

Gatsbying = Intentionally posting something to social media to attract one’s romantic interest’s attention. So named after the elaborate parties Gatsby threw to get Daisy’s attention in The Great Gatsby.

GD = God D***. “It’s so gd annoying when…”

Ghost = To stop responding to one’s texts, messages, posts, etc., effectively disappearing from their digital world. Often used as a way to break up with someone without having to actually do the hard work.

Go off = Giving someone permission to rant about something or someone they’re mad about. “Nah, bruh, she was so rude. Go off!”

Haunt = To occasionally view, comment on, or like posts from someone with whom you were once romantically involved, as if to intentionally remind them, “Hey, I’m still here!” Typically the other person will feel creeped out.

HBIC = Head B**** In Charge.

Hunty = Combination of “honey” and “c***.” It originated in the drag queen community as a slight insult, but it’s starting to be used amongst groups of girls as a term of endearment.

IDGAF = I Don’t Give A F***.

Igging = Ignoring (made most famous by the song “Tunnel Vision” by Kodak Black).

Jocking = Copying someone else’s style. From Bruno Mars’ song “24K Magic.”

Ligma = A fictional disease made up by juvenile online gamers and rumored to have killed professional gamer Ninja. Of course, when people heard about it, they asked, “What’s Ligma?” to which they responded, “Ligma balls!”

Low Key = A warning that someone doesn’t want everyone to know what they’re saying. “Keep this low key.” Antonym: High Key (i.e. not trying to hide it; straight up proclaiming it to the world).

Lurk = To surreptitiously view someone’s (ex-significant-others’, enemy’s) social media posts. People often do this in order to not get caught, so they do it from fake accounts or find crafty ways around social media’s reporting features.

Mooning = Using the “Do Not Disturb” mode (denoted by a tiny moon on iPhones), which turns off notifications, on a specific conversation so as to mute/ignore them. Can still mean to show one’s behind to others, though this is a much less common usage.

Murk = To kill, dominate, etc. Often used in reference to video games.

Sip Tea = Mind one’s own business. Usually means you don’t want to get involved in the drama, but you have no problem watching it from the sidelines while comfortably sipping tea.

Salty = To be passive-aggressively bitter/angry/upset. “She was salty because she lost.”

Skurt = To leave.

Stan = Abbreviation of “stalker” and “fan”; refers to an overly obsessed, maniacal fan of a celebrity. (Also originates from the main character of Eminem’s song “Stan.”) “Those Taylor Swift stans are creeping me out.”

Subtweet = To passive-aggressively call someone out on Twitter without actually tagging them.

Sus = Short for “suspect.” “My bank card got declined. That’s sus.”

Thicc = Used to describe a woman who is attractive, typically because she has curves in all the “right” places. Can be used jokingly about other things, like food or pets.

This Ain’t It/This Ain’t It Chief = A clapback; a way to respond to to a fail or to something that someone disagrees with. Person 1: “I’m obsessed with my new haircut!” Person 2: “That ain’t it chief.”

Throw Shade = Give someone a dirty look or say/post something mean about them.

Trash = When something or someone comes off as classless or tasteless. “Did you see the trash everyone is saying about Beyoncé?”

Vaguebooking = Intentionally posting vague Facebook status updates, either for attention or as a cry for help. E.g. “Wondering if there’s a point to anything.”

WTF = What The F***. Often shortened to “tf,” which is less angry than “wtf.”

Woke = To be fully aware of current events; living in a state of awareness that is above expectations. “Stay woke, son!”

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Image Credit: Maskot/Maskot/Getty Images

Red Flags

9 = Parent watching!

Addy = Short for “Adderall,” a medication for treating ADHD that’s also used recreationally.

Breadcrumbing = Sending out flirtatious-but-noncommittal text messages to members of the opposite sex in order to lure a sexual partner without expending much effort.

Break Green = To share marijuana with others.

Catfish = Someone who pretends to be someone they’re not on social media, either for dating or sexual purposes.

CU46 = See You For Sex.

D = Short for d***. “She just wants the D.”

Down in the DM = Using private messages (DM=Direct Message) on social media to ask for nude photos and/or to filter through people to find a casual hookup.

DTF = Down To F***.

FWB = Friends with benefits (similar to “situationship” below).

GNOC = Get Naked On Camera.

Hooking up = Has various levels of meaning. Could refer to anything from making out to having sex.

Juul/Juuling = Vaping. Juul is a brand of e-cigarette that’s very popular with teenagers, despite their claims that they aren’t trying to market to teens.

KMS = Kill Myself.

KYS = Kill Yourself.

Netflix and chill = A euphemism for hooking up. Someone uses the pretense of watching Netflix as a reason to hang out or “chill,” but really has no intention of actually watching anything.

NIFOC = Naked In Front Of Computer.

NP4NP = Naked Pic For Naked Pic.

NSFW = Not Safe For Work. Used to mark something as sexually inappropriate or explicit.

POS = Parent Over Shoulder.

Scarfing = Intentionally strangling oneself (with a scarf or other material) during sex or masturbation to decrease blood flow to the head and therefore increase pleasure during climax. Many young men have accidentally committed suicide while scarfing.

Situationship = An undefined sexual relationship that’s generally considered to more serious than just hooking up, but less serious than an actual committed relationship. This usually happens because one person doesn’t want to commit, while the other hopes he/she will.

Smash = To have casual sex.

Stealthing = Secretly removing one’s condom during sex.

Thirsty = Desperate, eager for something; often refers to one’s sexual appetite or desire to gain attention on social media.

Xan/Xans = Short for Xanax, a sedative used to treat anxiety that’s often used recreationally, especially in hip hop culture. Other terms are Xanny, bars, and footballs.

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Image Credit: Hero Images/Hero Images/Getty Images

Fun, Harmless, Silly

Adulting = To do things a bona fide adult would do. “Adulting is no fun. Why do I have to give all my money to the government?!”

Aesthetic = The new “vibe.” “I don’t like this artist because I don’t get her aesthetic.” “I love the aesthetic of this Instagram account I just found.”

Bae = Before Anyone Else; also a synonym for “babe” or “baby.”

Basic = A way to describe someone who lacks originality and enjoys the most mainstream and predictable things. Shortened from basic b****.

BB = Synonym for “babe” or “baby,” but usually used for friends. Pronounced “bee bee.”

Boo = One’s significant other.

Boo’d (or booed) up = To be in a romantic relationship.

Bop = A really good song. More modern synonym for jam. “The new Ariana Grande song is a bop.”

Bougie/boujee = High class, rich, fancy (from “bourgeois”).

Bruh = More modern version of “bro.”

Catch Feels = To develop romantic feelings for someone. Popularized by “Feels” by Calvin Harris ft. Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, & Big Sean.

Dead/dying = When something is so funny, you can’t handle it. Variation: TD (to die); “That jacket is TD. Buy it!”

Done = To be completely over a task, person, emotion, or situation.

Extra = Over the top, excessive, dramatic. “I aspire to be this level of extra at my graduation.”

Fam = Family, to denote one’s actual family OR one’s closest friends.

Finesse = To perfect or smooth things out (either physically or emotionally). “I need to finesse my shoe collection.” Can also be used to refer to a person’s style.

Finna = Abbreviation of “fixing to” (similar to “gonna” for “going to”). “I’m finna take a nap.”

Fire = Cool, awesome. “This party is fire!” Also denoted by the fire emoji.

Flex = To show off. Also denoted by the flexed bicep emoji.

Floss = A dance move popularized by The Backpack Kid and turned into a Fortnite emote.

FR = For Real.

GOAT = Greatest Of All Time.

Gucci = Good, cool.

Hundo P = One Hundred Percent.

Hypebeast = A male who lives for more “hype” and popularity and thus closely follows streetwear and fashion trends in order to be cool. Female = Hypebae.

IK/IKR = I Know/I Know, Right?!

IRL = In Real Life.

Keep it 100 = Be true to yourself and stick to your values (short for “Keep it 100% real”). Made mainstream recently by The Bachelorette’s Rachel Lindsay. Synonym: Trill (combo of “true” and “real”)

Let’s Get This Bread = A play on “dough” being slang for money, it means to work hard and succeed. It went viral in October 2018 and has somewhat morphed into a battlecry or a motivation to succeed. There are also many variants and subsequent memes.

Live/living = When something is so incredible, it’s finally making you “live.” Could also be said to be giving you “life.”

Like recent = Using one social media platform to tell one’s followers to like his/her most recent post on another social media platform. Often seen as desperate. Synonyms: LB (like back), FB (follow back).

Lit = Cool, awesome. “This party is lit!” Can also mean to be drunk or high: “Let’s get lit and jump off the roof!” (Not as cool of a word as “fire” these days.)

MFW = My Face When. Usually accompanied by an image or GIF. “MFW it’s Monday.”

Narrative = Something you would not like to take part in. “I would v much like to be excluded from this narrative.” Popularized by Taylor Swift in response to Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.

Neglext = To intentionally or unintentionally abandon someone in the middle of text message conversation for a prolonged period of time. “I totally fell asleep last night. I didn’t mean to neglext you!”

NMH = Nodding My Head, i.e. expressing agreement or approval.

P = Pretty. “That new Netflix show is p cool.”

Peep = Look at. “Peep my bio for the link!”

RIP/RIP me = Used to express sadness or to say something sucks. “I got a C-on my paper rip me.”

RN = Right now.

RT = Retweet. Also used to show agreement (because typically people don’t retweet things they disagree with). “Do you like Taylor Swift’s new hair?” “Yessss, RT RT RT.”

SM = So Much. “I hate that sm.” Often used with “ily” (I Love You): “ilysm.”

SMH = Shake/Shaking My Head, i.e. expressing disagreement or disapproval.

Savage = To be hardcore, fierce, bada**. Can refer to arguments, takedowns, and a general disregard for consequences.

Ship = Short for “relationship.” Used to endorse/support a romantic coupling, even one that’s not reality. “I ship Ron and Hermione.” “I see a ship developing!” Synonym: OTP(One True Pairing).

Shook = To be so completely surprised, scared, or caught off guard that your body is shaking.

Snatched = Another slang term for looking good. E.g. “Your outfit is snatched.” Older, less-used synonyms: On fleek, on point.

Squad = Friend group. Often used as #squadgoals, meaning, “I hope my friends can someday be this cool!” Newer, cooler synonym: Tribe.

Straight Fire = Hot or trendy. “That outfit is straight fire!”

Suh = A greeting; a combination of “sup” and “huh.”

Take the L = Take the loss. Can be used in any situation where one comes out behind. Antonym: W(pronounced “dub”); “That’s a W!”

TBH = To Be Honest.

TFW = That Feeling When. “TFW you accidentally spill your Venti Frap all over your car.”

Turnt = Short for “turned up,” which means either really excited (“It’s New Year’s Eve, so of course I’m turnt!”) or drunk (“It was rough to go to brunch today because I was so turnt last night.”).

V = Very. “I’m v excited to binge my show this weekend!”

Weak = Means “That was funny!” Originates from that weak feeling you get when you laugh really hard.

Weird Flex But Ok = A sassy or sarcastic response to someone showing off or bragging online. Also used humorously.

Wig Snatched = To be amazed, blown away, caught off guard, or shook by something. Originates from drag queen culture. Often used in reference to an attractive person.

Wild/Wildin’ = A synonym for “shocking.” If used to a describe a person, it can mean “hilarious” or “weird” as well. “YOU JUST MET DRAKE THAT’S SO WILD.” “She wildin’.”

Yeet = A word with many meanings and usages due to its popularity. Can be an exclamation of excitement or nervousness (e.g. after winning at Fortnite: “YEEEEET!”). Can be a feeling or emotion. Can be a verb, meaning to put one’s full energy and might toward something.

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Image Credit: Maskot/Maskot/Getty Images

A Final Thought

As you can see, there’s a lot to keep track of! We hope knowing these terms helps you discern when your teens are just engaged in harmless fun and when they’re in need of intervention. One caveat: Gen Z is all about authenticity. They can smell inauthenticity a mile away. So carefully consider the choice to add these words to your vocabulary. Your teens may think it’s cool or funny that you’re using them . . . or they may find it totally uncool and therefore be embarrassed by your use of them.

Know the world your teen lives in.

There are lots of issues teens face that can be scary and complicated. It can be even scarier to talk about those issues. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Axis has created downloadable PDFs to help you understand the things your teens face. Be prepared for conversations around these topics and equip your teens with lifelong faith through it all. 

Sign up for Axis’ parent guides here

If you are leading, mentoring, or parenting a teenager, it can be hard to keep up with what’s happening in the world around them. In partnership with Axis, David C Cook offers Parent Guides to help navigate cultural topics and issues teens face. 

You can see our full collection here.

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About the Author

  • Axis empowers the next generation to think clearly and critically about what they believe and to take ownership of their faith. The team at Axis does this by supporting parents and faith leaders in churches and schools by providing content and facilitators who effectively introduce and address life’s toughest topics.

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