Have you heard people talking about things living “rent-free” in their heads? Or maybe you’ve wondered what an “ick” is, and why people hate them so much. And why are people suddenly interested in finding out what “tea” is?
A new era of internet slang is upon us, which is mostly being adopted by GenZ on TikTok. Calling someone or something ‘basic’ is a thing of the past, now things are ‘cheugy’, ‘sus’ or ‘salty’.
To help you better understand the new generation of TikTok slang, the language experts at Preply have delved into the meaning behind them, so you can be up to speed with all the GenZ lingo, and hopefully pass the vibe check.
‘Cheugy’, pronounced ‘chew-gee’, is often used by GenZ to describe ‘untrendy’ millennials who have an out-of-touch aesthetic, or are trying too hard. Like many slang words, it can be difficult to define but easy to identify as it is quite a vague term that is open to interpretation, but that’s what makes it so appealing to the youth of TikTok.
Things that have been described as ‘cheugy’ include; being obsessed with The Office or Friends, ugg boots/slippers, using the Instagram caption “we did a thing” to boast about an accomplishment, and Minion memes, and the ‘girl boss’ aesthetic.
How to use the phrase; “Do you still own a pair of skinny jeans? They’re so cheugy!”
- “Ok Boomer”
Another intergenerational viral slang term, “ok Boomer” is a phrase that can be used as an expression of frustration, or a way to end a debate. It refers to differing values between Gen Z and Baby Boomers who may be thought to have out-of-touch or close-minded opinions.
Essentially, the phrase means “keep your opinions, I can’t be bothered to argue.” – ouch.
How to use the phrase; “I really got into it with my older cousin, who kept telling me to start a budgeting spreadsheet, at which point I was like ‘Ok Boomer!’ and walked away.”
The term “tea” on TikTok usually isn’t referring to the hot beverage, but instead some hot gossip. “Tea” can be sipped, served, or spilled depending on whether someone is simply enjoying some gossip, or spreading it.
It’s thought the term originates from the idea of a group of old ladies or housewives drinking tea whilst sharing the neighbourhood chitchat.
How to use the phrase; “I’ve missed so much over the weekend, what’s the tea?”
- Rent free
This viral phrase is most often used when you can’t stop thinking about someone or something, whether it’s a song, a person or a funny moment in a movie or TV show. The moment is residing in your mind, whether you like it or not, as if it was somebody living in your property without even paying rent for the space.
How to use the phrase; “Harry Styles’ new music video for “As it Was” is living in my head rent free.”
The word ‘ick’ is used to express disgust and is often used by GenZ to describe something someone does that is an instant turn-off, making you want to cut all romantic ties immediately.
People have revealed some of their biggest ‘icks’ on TikTok and it seems no one is safe anymore. Things as simple as running to catch the bus while wearing a backpack or holding your nose before going underwater in the swimming pool have been described as an ‘ick’ – so watch out!
How to use the phrase; “They arrived on an electric scooter and it gave me the ick.”
‘Sus’ is a slang word that is short for ‘suspicious’ or ‘suspect’, and gives the impression that someone or something is questionable or dishonest and shouldn’t be trusted.
How to use the phrase; “you’ve been acting quite sus recently, I think you’re up to something.”
Describing something as salty doesn’t just refer to your food being over seasoned. The slang word ‘salty’ is often used on TikTok in relation to bitter behaviour. If someone is being ‘salty’ they are probably upset about something of small significance.
How to use the phrase; “They’re just salty because they lost a game of Fortnite.”
‘Cap’ is slang for ‘lie’. The phrase ‘no cap’ means “no lie” or “for real”. The term ‘capper’ is used to describe someone who might be lying and ‘capping’ is slang for ‘lying’ or ‘faking’.
The terms were originally coined by rappers such as Young Thug, 21 Savage, Future and Offset, but have been adopted by GenZ on TikTok.
How to use the phrase; “This whole outfit is vintage, no cap!”
- Vibe check
A vibe check refers to checking in on someone’s behavior and assessing what vibe they’re giving. Good vibe? They passed the vibe check!
If someone is acting suspiciously or acting up in a negative way, it sounds like they don’t pass the vibe check.
How to use the phrase; “I can’t believe they said that, they need a vibe check!”
- Ate that / left no crumbs
The viral phrase ‘ate that’ essentially means someone did a good job at something, such as performing a TikTok dance perfectly or doing their makeup flawlessly. This is interchangeable with the phrase ‘left no crumbs’ which suggests someone ‘ate it all’.