Saturday, December 29, 2012

Teenage Slang: A (Short) Glossary

One of the biggest, most obvious benefits of working with teenagers is that I get insight into their lives in a way that many writers wouldn’t necessarily be privy to. I’m amazed at how, year after year, the slang seems to change and how phrases I was sure were cool are actually SO five minutes ago (epic fail, anyone?) As a tool for my fellow writers, and perhaps for some entertainment, I decided to put together a small glossary of “teen terms” that I hear every day.

Jaunt: To be used as “junk” would be, to replace a noun. Example: “I’ll hit up that jaunt after school” or “Dude, that jaunt is impossible to figure out.”

Ratchet: To be used like “tore up from the floor up”; Extremely ugly. Example: “That girl may look pretty now, but in middle school she was ratchet as hell.”

Hip: To be used like “aware” or “in the know.” Example: “Yo, you hip to Lil Wayne’s new mix tape?”

Cise: To be used like “carry” or “give someone a hard time.” Example: “Mrs. Fiore, stop cising and give me the answer to number six!”

You tryin’ to?: To be used like “Can you?” or “Will you?” Example: “You tryin’ to lend me a dollar for lunch?”

Twatching (Twitter-watching): To be used like “Stalking.” Example: “My mom be twatching my page all night, man!”

Bad: To be used like “Hot.” Example: “Hey, Diana looks bad today, don’t you think?”

“I got you.”: To be used like “I understand” or “I can help.” Example: “You need a pen? I got you.”

There are so many more – some of them appropriate and some of them not so much. One I’ve been attempting squash lately is “No Homo,” a phrase my male students like to throw around after everything they say that, in their opinion, could be construed as homosexual.

Some of this slang is useful – some, not so much. In the end, it reminds me that a little slang in my writing goes a long way. When you overdo it, it just feels false, no matter how authentic the words are when teens use them.

Do you have additions to my list? Add them in the comments! It would be great to compile a longer list -- and I know as soon as I post this, I'll think of a dozen more! :)


Kelly Fiore's debut, Taste Test, is due out August 20, 2013. You can find her at or on Twitter at @kellyannfiore.


  1. This must be a fairly regional list, as I've only heard the last term used in the stated way (and I'm 15). For the most part, the only slang terms we use locally are the old ones (for example, cool), usually for "comic relief".

    1. Patrick, I'm sure you're right! My students range from 14-20 years old and they live in an urban environment in the Mid Atlantic. I'll bet we could make a "slang dictionary" for every region/country/state, etc. Thanks for reading! :)

  2. I haven't heard most of these, so I agree with the regional thing. My son is 17 and we live in the Pacific Northwest. One of the funny slang terms he's been using lately is "dip" as in, "I'm going to dip." or "We're dippin'" which means leaving, exiting, out of here. It cracks me up because when I was his age, back in Indiana, "dipping" meant using chewing tobacco. It was also just called "D". Ew.

    1. We have "dip", too -- but usually just for leaving, as in "Alright, I'm gonna dip out. Peace." Thanks!

  3. I know three of these (hip, bad, I got you) and agree that these kinds of usages are very regional. It would be great to have such a list of those that are pretty universal, but who would know. And it is something of a moving target. Kids change up their way of speaking all the time. It's an interesting post. Thanks for it.

  4. Actually, we are in the PNW and my girls were using ratchet the other day. At the time I joked "i don't want to know". Glad to see it on your list.

  5. I've never heard any of these words used in that context. Maybe I'm just sheltered? It's likely they are more regional, but honestly, slang is just weird.

  6. Here is a current list from my son:

    App - applications for apples.
    As if - another way to say "yeah, right".
    Awesome - something really cool.

    Beast - something a person is really good at. Something that is cool.
    Boss - the head of coolness.
    Bottom out - when your skateboard's bottom hits the ground while going down a ramp.

    Chill - relax.
    Clueless - someone who is not bright.
    Cray cray - crazy times two.

    Dawg - your pal.
    Dude -

    Emo - emotional and dramatical.
    Epic - beyond the norm.
    Epic fail - messed up really, really bad.

    Facebooked or friended - asked someone to be your friend on Facebook.
    Fail - stupid.
    Frienemy - used to be your friend, but is more an enemy.

    Ginger - person with red hair.
    Grind - skate along an edge on your trucks.

    Hater - people who hate it all.

    Idk - I don't know.
    Insane - unusually really cool.

    Liked - you pressed like on a social media post.
    Legit - for real.

    Noob - a newbie.

    Photobomber - jumping in the back of a picture.
    Poser - pretending to be what they're not.

    Ratchet - obnoxiously in disarray.

    Sick - cool.
    Sketchy - mysterious. Possibly fake.
    Swag - style, cool.

    Trump - do better than, beat that.

    Wicked - evil.

    Yolo - an excuse for doing something potentially stupid. You Only Live Once