31 Gen Z/TikTok slang, expressions and acronyms you need to know in 2022
Keeping up with slang and incorporating it in your communication strategy can be a great way to connect with your followers, especially if your target audience is Gen Z. Today’s slang changes faster than ever, and we’re here to keep you in the loop.
We know you’ve been waiting impatiently; it’s finally time for the annual update of our most popular article! If you haven’t checked out our previous Gen Z/TikTok slang articles from 2020 and 2021, we strongly recommend you read those first as the expressions listed there are still in use and haven’t become outdated (yet).
Content warning: some of these expressions are NSFW. Also, not all of these expressions are new, but they are being used currently.
👏…👏…👏 = Adding the clapping hands emoji in between words adds emphasis. Mostly used for serious sentiments, not ironically.
Example: “👏 STOP 👏 HARASSING 👏 WOMEN 👏”
Abow = A Turkish/Arabic (no one seems to be quite sure) slang word that is very popular in Sweden, that recently went viral on global TikTok. It can be added at the beginning or end of a sentence, meaning approximately damn or wow. It’s pronounced “aboh”, not “abaow”.
Example: “Abow, this is crazy.”
BBL = Brazilian butt lift, an immensely popular cosmetic surgery done by many celebrities that rounds out your hips and makes your behind larger.
Example: “Her butt looks so good.” “Yeah, but it’s all BBL.”
Banger = Great, awesome. Most often referring to music.
Example: “This song is a banger.”
Big yikes = Ouch, aw man, bummer.
Example: “I accidentally posted a photo meant for my finsta on my real account.” “Big yikes.”
Body count = To non-Gen Z:ers, body count usually means the number of people someone has killed. For Gen Z, it means the number of people someone has slept with.
Example: “You don’t have to disclose your body count if you don’t want to.”
(No) Bones day = A very old, and very cute, pug named Noodle predicts the outcome of each day on TikTok. If he stays sitting up when his owner (@jongraz) lifts him slightly, it means it’s a bones day, and if he falls over immediately, it’s a no bones day. A bones day essentially means energetic and fruitful, while a no bones day means a more slow, low-key day. Since Noodle is very old, he almost always falls over, making bones days a bit rare and exciting. Click here for an interview with Noodle and his owner on the Today Show.
Example: “It’s a bones day! I’m gonna treat myself to Starbucks on my way to work.” or “Today is a no bones day, so I’m going to take a bath and procrastinate doing the laundry.”
@jongraz on Instagram, promoting his new book based on Noodle’s daily predictions.
Bougie/boujee = Short for bourgeois, meaning fancy/snobby.
Example: “That necklace is bougie af.”
Bussin = Very delicious, really good. Most often used about food.
Example: “This burger is bussin!”
Caught in 4k = Catching someone red-handed.
Example: “Did you hear that he cheated on his girlfriend?” “ Yeah, he was caught in 4k when she walked in on them.”
Cheugy = A derogatory term for Millennials’ preferences that were popular in their teens/early twenties (aka ~2011-2015), such as skinny jeans, the color mint, statement necklaces, infinity sign tattoos, etc.
Example: “Omg that peplum top is so cheugy.”
DC = Dance credit. Used on TikTok to give credit to the person who came up with the dance that the creator is performing.
Example: “DC: @getflowbox.”
DNI = Do not interact. Used most frequently to protect minors from 18+ content.
Example: “DNI if you’re under 18.”
Gag = A positive reaction to something really good. A very popular slang word on the infamous show RuPaul’s Drag Race (and perhaps in the drag world in general, as well).
Example: “Just wait until you see my dress. You’ll gag!”
Gaslight(ing) = Manipulating someone into questioning the truth or their own reality. It’s actually not just slang, but an actual term, coined in the movie Gaslight from 1944. Nonetheless, it’s frequently used among Gen Z, especially when discussing toxic relationships where gaslighting, unfortunately, commonly occurs.
Example: “I can’t believe he tried to gaslight you into thinking that.”
Gatekeep(ing) = Not disclosing information in an attempt to control who gets to participate or partake in something. Also not just slang, but a “real” word used in many professional fields.
Example: “She’s always gatekeeping her clothes. They’re so cute, I just want to know where they’re from!”
Girlboss(ing) = This expression used to be aspirational, meaning a self-made, very successful woman. Less than a decade since it was coined (2014 by Sophia Amoruso), and now it’s considered insulting, at least to Gen Z. In 2022, a girlboss is toxic, a tryhard, thinks she’s better than others, and so on. Here’s a great article on the transformation of the word.
Example: “She girlbossed a bit too close to the sun.”
G.O.A.T/GOAT = Greatest of all time. Check out this hilarious video where Jonah Hill and Jennifer Lawrence explain how Meryl Streep didn’t understand the acronym on the set of the Netflix film Don’t Look Up.
Example: “You truly are the GOAT.”
IB = Inspired by. Used on TikTok to give credit to the person who inspired the creator’s video.
Example: “IB @getflowbox.”
No… = Used at the very beginning of a sentence for emphasis, sometimes with a hint of disbelief or how accurate/relatable something is.
Example: “No but why is this so relatable” or “No because this is me” or “No like facts tho”
Oomf = One of my followers.
Example: “Oomf asked where my jeans are from.”
Pfp = Profile picture.
Example. “You should make that your pfp!”
Pro-ana = Promoting anorexia as well as behaviors and mindsets related to the eating disorder. Needless to say, pro-ana is highly problematic.
Example: “She started creating pro-ana content, so I unfollowed her.”
SA = Sexual assault. Used as an acronym both because it’s a sensitive topic as well as to be able to talk about it without getting your content removed on TikTok due to language restrictions.
Example: “It’s insane how many young women have been victims of SA.”
Say less = I’m already convinced, you don’t have to say anything more to get me on board. Basically, the opposite of “tell me more”.
Example: “Say less, I’m there.”
Sending me = If you already know of the older slang “I can’t even” or “I’m dead”, this is essentially the same thing. It means you’re having a strong reaction of surprise or amusement. Can be conjugated.
Example: “This TikTok is sending me.” or “That sent me over the moon.”
Sheesh = More often said than written out – a long, rather high pitched noise expressing excitement or being impressed.
Example: “I scored 3 goals my last game!” “Sheeesh!”
Situationship = Replacing the ever so vague “talking to someone”, a situationship refers to being involved with someone romantically without being in a relationship.
Example: “Didn’t you date that guy?” “No, we just had a situationship.”
Snatched = Looking good (usually tight).
Example: “That dress makes your waist look so snatched.”
Understood the assignment = Made popular by an audio clip from the song The Assignment, the lyric “I understood the assignment” essentially means job well done. Can be applied to almost anything, and often said in a sing-songy tone to match the song.
Example: “That outfit is fire. He definitely understood the assignment.”
Yt = White. As in skin color.
Example: “Why do all yt dads dance like that?”
Bonus: There was a short-lived inside joke on TikTok that the chair emoji (🪑) was dubbed the new symbol for laughing. It was only ever used ironically, but most Gen Z:ers will still know what you mean if you just comment a bunch of chairs on a funny video.
Lastly, a RIP to the fallen slang of 2021:
- 👉👈 – we rarely see this slang anymore, the trend seems to be dead.
- 🎣 – have not seen this one around for a very long time, maybe people aren’t fishing for compliments as much anymore, or maybe the slang is just out of style.
- 🧢 – people seem to prefer to write out “cap” nowadays.
One thing worth noting about the slang of today, is that it is increasingly including more mature concepts. Could it perhaps be because Gen Z is growing up, with half of them being of age in 2022? Or is social media (read: TikTok) in general becoming a more open-minded space for people to talk about intimate details of their lives, both positive and negative? What do you think?
Bianca Rior, Digital Marketing Specialist, Flowbox