If you were born any time before the year 2000, you probably have no idea what kids are talking about half the time these days. This goes for Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials.
Whether you’re listening to pop music’s Top 40 or spending a few seconds scrolling through TikTok, you might start wondering: why do people act like spilling tea is a good thing? What is cap? Where exactly are people living rent free?
If you have kids, you probably want to understand the younger generation’s media, or, if you’re like me, you’re just a few years shy of fitting in with – and understanding – Generation Z and their way of speaking. So, to save you some time on Instagram (and from China stealing your data on TikTok), here’s a rundown of some of Gen Z’s most popular slang.
Appearing in songs by Beyonce, Cardi B, and Lizzo, the word “drip” means you’ve got style. “I be dripping so much sauce / Gotta been looking like ragù,” Lizzo sings in “Juice.” In “Drip,” Cardi B sings, “Came through drippin’ (drip drip) / Diamonds on my wrist, they drippin’ (ice).” (Ice referring here to the diamonds.) The origins of this specific meaning for “drip” are contested, but if anyone ever compliments you on your drip, you can thank them.
As in “That song is fire!” (often accompanied by the fire emoji), fire means something is cool. (Ironic, I know.) You might have heard the similar term “lit,” though according to some social media gurus, lit is “no longer considered cool.”
A pumpkin spice latte at the start of an autumn Target run just hits different. According to one site, a moment that “affects you in a meaningful way” is one that “hits different.” Whatever the experience may be, it’s one that, under different circumstances, just wouldn’t be the same. For example, “Listening to music just hits different now that I understand all the slang.”
Living rent-free [in someone’s head]
This phrase is appropriate in a case of unrequited hatred; someone can’t stand you, but you couldn’t care less what they think. For example, “Ron DeSantis lives rent-free in Whoopi Goldberg’s head.” As Demi Lovato sings, “Haters that live on the internet / Live in my head, should be paying rent.” The phrase apparently came from an “Ask Ann” column in which the eponymous advice-giver wrote, “Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head.”
Everybody wants to be the main character of their own story, right? This phrase is about “romanticizing your life,” per the TikTok trend that helped popularize it. Something has “main character energy” if it exudes confidence. As songwriter Qveen Herby sings in “Rabbit Hole,” “Seriously, like have you seen my silhouette? Sheesh / It’s giving main character energy.” (This lyric is a Gen Z triple whammy: In addition to “main character,” we have “sheesh,” which, rather than being an expression of exasperation, is usually positive, and “it’s giving” means “to give off, as in vibes,” per The Atlantic.)
If you hear someone say something unbelievable followed by “no cap,” you better believe it. Cap means to lie or exaggerate, so you can either say something like, “I saw him, no cap,” or, “that’s cap.” Rappers Young Thug & Future popularized the term in 2017 with the release of “No Cap.” Though, its meaning appears to date all the way back to the early 1900s. No cap!
Spill the tea
Often said as “spill the tea, sis,” this phrase means you’re ready for some gossip. The phrase evidently originated from the 1994 book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” in which a character uses “my T” to refer to truth. Now, the truth is just juicy gossip.
If you “stan” something, you’re a superfan, a buy-tickets-to-every-concert kind of fan. It can be a noun, as in “I’m such a Dave Chappelle stan,” or a verb, as in “I stan Dolly Parton.” The word was actually added to Merriam-Webster’s lexicon in 2019, though the dictionary refers to it as “slang, often disparaging,” so use it with caution. The use of “Stan” as more than a nickname for Stanley came from a 2000 Eminem song, which finds the star rapping about an obsessive, overzealous fan.
[This is] sending me
When you say something is “sending you,” you mean it’s provoking a strong, usually humorous, reaction. For example, “This video of President Joe Biden shaking hands with the air is sending me.” Where exactly are you being sent? We don’t know. Though it’s presumably somewhere with funny memes. This is not to be confused with a “full send,” however, which means going all-in on something – like spending your evening watching a compilation of Biden gaffes.
So, there you go. Now a collection of Gen Z slang can live rent-free in your head. This might make you feel like you have main character energy, but if you start saying words like “fire” and “stan” a little too often, you’re going to end up sounding a little “cringe” – and no one wants that.
Madeline Fry Schultz is the assistant contributors editor at the Washington Examiner. Before that, she was the culture commentary writer at the Washington Examiner.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.