Slippery Meanings

Language changes, evolves. I love that we find new ways of describing things and that we add helpful vocabulary. Unfortunately, I’m also currently feeling like I need to play catch-up. It’s like I’m Vizzini in The Princess Bride, and Inigo Montoya is telling me, “I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Case in point: I often find myself asking my kids to repeat–and define–their words. I really should start writing down the terms and definitions! Examples:

  • Banger (don’t worry, it’s PG). So, in my mind, bangers go with mash because I’m a foodie. Although, to be honest, I can’t recall if I actually liked the dish. In any case, this has nothing to do with food. It actually means the equivalent of “awesome.”

  • Fit. I figured this might have something to do with size, but the context didn’t make sense to me. Whose fit? Her fit? Ah, I guess it means clothes or (out)fit.

  • Goat. Why, I love animals! I like petting and brushing goats.

But this goat refers to GOAT, or Greatest of All Time, and it can actually be used as an adjective: “My GOATed team on this project…”

  • Slay. This term is not as violent as I’m led to believe. I’m thinking of dragons and swords.

I get the concept, though. To “slay” is like “killing it”–a positive!

  • Salty. Again with the food. I’ve heard of this one, but I will always default to taste first.

FYI: When someone acts “salty,” they’re feeling upset.

My mental dictionary has now been updated. What’s that? Oh, my kids are saying these terms are on their way out or have already gone. Sigh…

Tried out any new words lately, or do you stick with traditional terms?

P.S. I know that this was a light topic, and I do want to recognize and honor our wonderful vets on this special holiday. Thank you for your service! 🇺🇸

30 thoughts on “Slippery Meanings

  1. Great post Jennifer! Makes me wish I wrote down the terms my grandkids use, because I can’t remember them to list them here. Every time I see GOAT, my mind first goes to the animal, and I have to say Greatest Of All Time out loud to get it to stick.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yeet! Funny you should bring this up, Jennifer. I use Gen Z slang quite a bit in the voice of Natalie McMasters. I’ve even compiled a fairly extensive dictionary of it, because most internet lexicons contain only a few terms.
    Here are a few choice excerpts from my latest book, Sister! (which goes on preorder today (shameless plug!).
    Okay, this just escalated hundo-p.
    Damn, Gina!
    …the threat from Miss Rona is low these days, but zero it ain’t.
    His vibe is way cringy…
    And a personal fave,
    I knew that Danny was way basic, but I didn’t think he was this deadass headass.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Jen, as the mother of a 22-year-old, I’m with you! A few I’ve picked up from her lingo: “lit” – basically means cool. “Ship” – you see a couple in a relationship. I.e. “I ship Harry styles and Olivia Wilde.” And “Stan” – to be a fan of someone.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. My younger kiddo has all kinds of words I don’t understand Jen, especially “bougie.” I always thought it was a riff on the French bourgeois, meaning common. Evidently, he considers the word to mean something good. Go figure!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. JC … either that word has morphed again, or your kiddo is wrong because my source (the always hilarious Urban Dictionary) says: People pretending to (or think they are) high class and but they’re really not (or don’t realize they aren’t.)

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I think of some of the slang from the 80s and 90s that is very dated and not used any more. I wonder how many of these will still be in use in a few years, much less a decade.

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    1. You’re right, Mark. How long will these last? That’s probably why I’ve heard the recommendation to just create your own slang in books.

      On the other hand, my neighbor just used the words “rad” and “coolio” in a conversation with me the other day.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have a character in my WIP who’s about 13, and I had to do a lot of research to make sure (or at least I hope I did!) that her slang wasn’t too outdated. But I gotta say, I love how fluid language is–such a wonderful snapshot of the different periods of history, and our lives! (And I totally date myself by continuing to say “cool!” and “awesome,” and even sometimes, “bitchin” and “groovy!”)

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Leslie, like you I’m not retiring “groovy” — the youngsters will just have to get hip with it, lol!
    Jen, I understood bougie to mean “stylish”, but I could definitely be behind the curve.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Oh Jen, I feel this so much! With two teenagers, I often feel as though I need a dictionary. I did find myself saying that something was a little “sus” the other day, which elicited the side-eye from my 15 year-old. The newest thing I’ve learned: relationship stages now include Talking, which precedes Hanging Out and eventually Dating.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Sorry I’m late—writing from the Crime Bake
    conference! Thanks to social media, I guess, slang flips even faster now between Cool and Uncool. I love the variations the words and phrases go through before kids move on from them. Like, it used to be “hang out” and then just “hang”and now it’s back to Hang Out.


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