Learn these words to keep up with Gen Z in 2023
Academic English, the kind you learn to take the TOEFL test, isn’t as accurate an assessment of spoken English as it is your ability to use it in an academic setting. The real thing — what you’ll experience during your study abroad — is a lot different than what you’ve studied.
Living in the U.S., you’ll encounter just as many unique slang words, accents, and dialects as you will people. From New York’s upstate accent to Texas’ southern charm — not to mention California’s innovative slang — some things you just have to experience.
These are the words you’ll see on social media and hear from American friends — the top 20 slang words you need to know for 2023!
Popular American Slang Words in 2023
“Savage” describes someone who shows no regret or guilt for what they’ve done. It’s used as a compliment when you do something exceptionally cruel … but in a good way. This could include a witty comeback or a spectacular play in sports.
- You’re an absolute savage for that roast!
- I didn’t expect that comeback to be so savage.
“Woke” has been around for a while now, but 2022 has made it one of the most used slang words in the U.S. “Being woke” is in many ways a cultural phenomenon, and it urges those who haven’t “woken up" to get familiar with the social, political, and racial issues in our society.
- Stay woke.
- If you ain’t woke, you ain’t paying attention.
If you ask your friend a question about their love life and they try redirecting the question, that’d seem pretty “sus,” don’t you think? “Sus” is short-form for suspicious and is used when someone does something unusual or questionable.
- Why you actin’ sus?
- That’s a pretty sus look you have on your face.
How good are you at flirting (aka “spitting game”)? The word “rizz” was likely derived from chaRIZZma (proper spelling: charisma) and describes your ability to pick up a love interest.
- The Rizz God is back at it again.
- Yo, he’s got so much rizz.
Short form for “if you know, you know.” You’re not going to hear someone say this in person, but ask us how many times we get this over text in a day…
- Your friend texts you: What do you mean you’re moving to Australia?!?!
- You: IYKYK
- Your friend responds: I hate you so much.
6. It’s Giving
There’s no better way to hand out a compliment in 2023 than to start it with “it’s giving,” and yet we can’t imagine a worse way to get roasted than with those same words. The term itself is used to describe the vibe of someone or something — but when you use it, make sure to put a little sass behind it.
- Talking about a good student: “It’s giving studious.”
- Talking about the person following you: “It’s giving stalker.”
If your crush texts you to bring them a pack of chips from the grocery store when they live 30 minutes away, and you do it — we hate to tell you this, but it’s giving "simp" vibes (see what we did there!). To be a simp means to go above and beyond for someone you like when they’ve shown zero interest in you romantically.
- You’re simpin’ hard for that girl, bro.
- I’ve never seen anyone simp so hard for a guy in my life.
8. Touch Grass
Are you the kind of person who works overtime, games 12 hours a day, and covers the windows to keep out the sunlight? We’re not here to judge … just, maybe step outside once in a while? This term is used when someone’s spent too much time online and has lost touch with reality.
- How are you so good at this game?! Go and touch grass or something.
Take the word “fan” but pronounce it “stan" — they’ll never catch on. To be a stan is to be an undying fan, supporter, or advocate for your favorite celebrities, sports teams, tv shows, and just about anything you can think of — some might even call it being a stalker… take it from Eminem.
- Jenny is the biggest BTS stan.
- I guess you could say I stan Taylor Swift.
To show appreciation when someone does something impressive or worthy of praise.
- Girl, you’re slaying in that outfit.
- You did not just slay that performance like that!
Popularized in the fashion industry, “cheugy” is meant to describe something that’s the opposite of trendy.
- That fit is so cheugy.
- Am I cheugy if I JUST started watching Game of Thrones?
If tier lists were still a thing, “yeet” would be right up there for our favorite slang words of 2023. To yeet something means to throw it like it’s a piece of trash — just fling it. Dropkick it. Launch it as far as you possibly can. Wasn’t that satisfying?
- Did you see Rafiki just yeet Simba off the cliff?
- Simba was yeeted to the shadowlands, never to be seen again.
To express your intention to do something. “Finna” can be used as a substitute for words like “gonna” or “going to” and is an abbreviation of the Southern term “fixing to” (meaning “about to”).
- I’m finna get to it in a sec
- I’m finna teach you a lesson if you keep talkin’ like that.
Short for “lying,” “a lie,” or “to deceive.”
- You had dinner with Beyonce? That’s cap.
- I’m calling cap on that.
To live “rent-free” means to negatively occupy your headspace to the point that it/they are all you can think about.
- You’re still talking about them? They’re living rent-free in your head.
Saying something is “mid” is to say that it’s mediocre or not that good.
- Hot take, but Drake’s latest album was mid.
- The pasta we had yesterday was mid.
To “be P” or “push P” means that you’re staying real and being positive. If you’re pushin’ P, you’re making moves to improve your circumstances and provide for the people around you.
- Keepin’ it P? Respect.
- Worrying about what you can’t control ain’t P.
“Bet” is another way to say yes or that you agree.
- Your friend: “Trying to carpool to the mall later today?”
- You: “Bet. What time?”
Getting “turnt” means getting hyped up, showing energy, or getting excited. The term “turnt” is often associated with parties or large-scale events.
- Did you see Jason? He’s getting turnt on the dance floor.
- This party is turnt!
“You don’t like what I said? Then you better learn to deal with it because I’m not changing my mind.” We’ve all said something like this, and the slang term “cope” is this attitude personified.
- Your teammate: "You need to learn to pass the ball!”
- You: “Cope harder. Maybe if you knew how to make a shot, I’d pass more often.”
Until recently, “sheesh” was interpreted as a somewhat negative term used when something felt overbearing/overwhelming. The new meaning, and the one you’re more likely to encounter is a flexible term that is a substitute for words like “dang” or “damn.” (p.s. The longer you stretch it, the bigger the reaction.)
- Sheesh! You’re lookin’ like a flamin’ hot cheeto in that dress
- Sheeeesh, you finished that meal in all of 3 seconds.
We couldn’t agree more, Edna. To be "extra" means to do too much or act excessively.
- Don’t you think that’s like… 23 shoes too many for a two-day trip? You’re so extra!
We imagine “OOF” is the noise people make when they get punched in the gut (can anyone confirm this?). The slang for “oof” is used in a similar way, but to express discomfort from watching someone else experience an uncomfortable or embarrassing moment.
- OOF! That looked like it hurt.
- Oof. Awkward.”
Winning is nice, but winning AND showing it off is nicer. “L” stands for “loss” or “lose,” but it’s commonly used to celebrate the loss of someone or some team that you’re opposing.
- Hold this L.
- That L must feel so much worse coming from me.
- You took an L.
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