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5 ‘Young Person’ Slangs Defined — Because Moms and Grans Can Be Lit, Too, Amirite?

A different kind of dictionary.


Language is ever-evolving. So much so, in fact, that even two people speaking the same tongue can get lost in translation. The slang you used in your youth is totally foreign to young adults these days, and their slang is pretty mysterious to us, too. Since you’re probably going to see your family this weekend for Mother’s Day, you may be subjected to lingo you’re not easily able to decipher. But you’re in luck: We’ve created a guide to the most popular millennial and Gen Z slang terms, so that you can both understand what they’re saying, and also figure out how to throw it back to them. Consider it a helpful mother-daughter (or grandmother-mother-daughter) translator. Happy Mother’s Day!

1. Vibe 

Noun: Something with a positive look, feel, or ambience. 

Example: Your daughter visits and compliments the freshly repainted dining room, calling it “a vibe.” If something is “a vibe,” it contains positive elements related to the senses. This can apply to music, environments, food, appearances, or settings. 

Use it in a sentence: “I’m glad you took the leap and got bangs — they’re an absolute vibe.”

2. High-Key

Adjective: To be the utmost of something. 

Example: Your daughter tells you that your Mother’s Day brunch outfit is a “high-key vibe.” This means she thinks your outfit is extremely cute and appropriate for the situation. If something is “high-key,” it is the Platonic ideal. It’s situationally perfect and well-executed. This term can be used to compliment appearances, behavior, or music. 

Use it in a sentence: “Sweetie, this bouquet and card are high-key perfect. Thank you.”

3. Shook

Adjective: To be surprised. 

Example: At the family Mother’s Day luncheon, you overhear your niece asking your sister-in-law for her skincare routine after saying, “You’re 50?! I’m shook.” This means she is surprised that your sister-in-law is 50, since she looks much younger. To be shook is to be shaken up, or shocked. It can be used positively or negatively, depending on the context. 

Use it in a sentence: “You made these cupcakes for me from scratch? I’m shook. They taste high-key gourmet!” 

4. Slaps/To Slap

Verb: To be amazing. 

Example: Your granddaughter made you a pan of cinnamon rolls using the cherished family recipe. She serves you both a roll, and upon taking her first bite, says, “OMG, this cinnamon roll slaps!” This means she thinks it’s delicious, and the family recipe is a good one. Yay! This term is most often used in reference to delicious food or good music. 

Use it in a sentence: “Thank you for putting together this playlist to add ambience to brunch, sweetheart. Light jazz totally slaps.”

5. W or L

Noun: Win or Loss. A total victory or failure. 

Example 1: Your partner offers to throw away the wrapping paper on the floor after you opened your Mother’s Day gifts. You say you can throw it away yourself — you ball it up and throw it perfectly into the nearby trash can without standing up. Your daughter says, “That’s a W!” She’s saying that your flawless throw was a win, or a success.

Example 2: Your son teases his sister for forgetting to sign your Mother’s Day card. She gets upset, making excuses for why she forgot, and he tells her to “take the L.” He’s telling her to “take the loss,” or admit she made a mistake, apologize, and move on. W and L can be applied to any situation with a victory or loss, or can be used as an adjective to describe something that’s good or bad.

Use it in a sentence: “Thank you for getting me this book I’ve been wanting to read. This gift is a total W.”

We hope you find this guide helpful. So helpful, in fact, that it’s a high-key W. We wish you a Mother’s Day that slaps so hard, it’s a vibe, and you’re shook by how much fun you have. 

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