21 Things Teenagers Say, Decoded, and What They Really Mean

Well, this was a wonderful and terrible week. Two extraordinary people in my life died, both at ages far too young. Two others were diagnosed with severe illnesses. There were several good things too, but it was all pretty overwhelming. With everyone and everything, I wasn’t happy with any of the blog work I did. So I went back to a column people enjoyed a couple of years ago and updated it. It’s lighthearted … And with monkeypox now going around, I think we could all use that!

Neanderthal parents were probably confused about some of the grunts that came out of the mouths of their teenage children. “Ugh.”  Regency-era slang expressions like ‘Zooks, ‘Deuced’ and ‘Bad form’ are still pretty easy for us to understand today. 1960s slang like ‘righteous, ‘fab’ and ‘groovy’ are still clear to us today, and still part of everyday language for some people because the 60s were just 50 some odd years ago, a drop in the bucket in terms of history.

When they are not on their smartphones or Playstations or Xboxes, here are just a few of the things I frequently hear out of the mouths of my own 2020 teenagers. Here we go …


Originally posted by akron-squirrel

  1. “I know.”

This is generally offered as a response to almost any statement. It is frequently accompanied by a sigh or eye roll, and occasionally by a huge, overly dramatic sigh.


Originally posted by danks-gif

  1. “I’ll do it.”

This is an impatient declarative statement that actually has more than one meaning. It is often made with a degree of indignation, in an assertion of independence. It is frequently said as a stalling technique when the speaker has little or no intention of actually doing whatever has been asked of them.

  1. “Okay.”

Occasionally this is a casual acknowledgment of something. It is more of an exasperated synonym for ‘I heard you now leave me alone.’ This one word is often imbued with a clear projection of irritation.

  1. “Do I have to?”

Typically, this is muttered either as a whine or petulant complaint. The whiny tone of this started when they were age 3 and experience has shown that by age 19 it is still happening.


Age 3     –  “Do I have to (eat the broccoli)?”

Age 12  –    “Do I have to (study my vocabulary words again)?”

Age 19  –     “Do I have to (pick my sister up at school)?”

  1. Lit.

This is not a reference to a room or pathway being well illuminated. Instead, it means when something is very hot, cool, popping, popular.

Example:   “That party was lit.”

  1. Tea.

This refers to the gossip or latest news about friends or celebrities.

Example:  Spill the tea about Jack and Diane!

John Mellencamp context reference there, for those of us who remember when he was John Cougar Mellencamp. Miscellaneous info: When I checked the Internet to verify the right spelling of Mellencamp, I learned that he was engaged to Meg Ryan for about a year, ending in 2019. No clue why I find that fascinating, or how I missed that Tea.


Originally posted by butterplanet

  1. She’s thicc.

This is a shout-out for body positivity. Should not be confused with meaning somebody is big or wide like a thick cut of steak. It is also not an insult like calling somebody ‘fat.’ This is a compliment for somebody who looks comfortable in themselves, regardless of their size or shape.

Example:  “Wow, your friend Kim really put on some weight freshman year!”

“She really looks great, she is thicc.”

  1. Low key.

This phrase can pretty much be substituted for ‘sort of’ or ‘kind of.’

Example:  “What do you want to do today?”

“ I lowkey wanna go to the mall but I also wanna lowkey hang out and watch Netflix.”

  1. Salty.

No, this is not being used to describe something that you are eating. It’s a reference to someone who is angry or irritated.

Example:  “Nobody cleaned up after the dog last night so Mom is salty this morning.”


Originally posted by lillpon

  1. AF

This short acronym stands for ‘As F*ck’. When somebody uses it they are referring to something being ‘very much’ so or ‘extremely’ whatever it is.

Example:  “ I don’t want to put out the garbage pails, it’s cold AF out there!”

  1. Extra.

We usually use this word to mean more than usual, and it really still is that in teenage lexicon. It is used to describe someone or something being over the top. One of my kids describes me as being extra and I can’t decide if it’s an insult or a left ways compliment.

Example:  “ Did your mom really make it snow at your pool party?”

“ Yeah, she is so extra.”

  1. Shook.

Shocked by something or someone.

Example:  “Did you see report cards were posted today?”

“Yeah, I’m shook I made the honor roll.”

  1. Left me on read.

Somebody opened your Snapchat or read your text but never responded.

Example:  “Are you going out with your boyfriend later?”

“I don’t know, he left me on read.”

  1. No chill.

Someone who doesn’t care what others think about them. A person who just does what they want to do.

Example:  “ I can’t believe your mother posted that!”

“ She has no chill.”

  1. Woke.

Don’t let the awkward adaptation of ‘awake’ fool you. This is really an encouragement to be aware of social issues such as the #metoo movement, not blaming the clothes women wear for when they are attacked by sexual predators, and recognizing that fathers have rights too.

Example:  “ I saw the speech about the planet Joaquin Phoenix gave at the Oscars last week and now I am woke.”

  1. Snack

It’s not referring to an Apple or a Cup of yogurt, that’s for sure. Here it refers to a guy or girl who looks delicious. Kind of like this cowboy, who is most definitely a snack:

Note:  That snack would go great with a whisky chaser.

  1. Bet.

This is used as an answer to a statement, not a question. It means Sure, or Definitely, or Okay. You can think of it as short for “You betcha”, an expression I remember my own father using sometimes.

Example:  “ Do you have a ride home?”


  1. Throw shade.

This refers to somebody who is trash talking –  Speaking badly of someone.

Example:  “ That girl can’t be trusted.”

“ Don’t throw shade at my friend.”

  1. Slay

If something or someone “slays” it means that they are doing a great job or that they are really cool.

Example: That outfit is a slay, you look so good.

  1. Brick

This refers to cold temperatures.

Example: “Did you see the weather? It’s going to be brick today.”

  1. Whip

This refers to automobiles.

Example: “Did you see Nicole’s new whip? It’s so cool.”

There you have it, 21 expressions I hear my teenagers say on a regular basis. Are any of them familiar to you? What other things do you hear your teens say? What expressions do you remember from your own life? Send me an email at frominhere@gmail.com , I’d love to hear from you. Please don’t be shy, share, share, share!

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