Trending Slang: Millennials share their choice slang words of the moment

Every year, we take our annual look into Millennial slang to see what language is really sticking with our audience. More recently we updated our research to bring you the biggest and/or breakout slang of the past couple months. The word cloud above represents what 200 Millennials aged 14-24 from across the country said were the words they and their friends have been using the most.

What we learned:

-   “Swag” and “YOLO” are back and surprisingly big; they seemed to have gotten overused in 2013 but then later showed resurgence due to their versatility. We see Millennials using the words both sincerely and ironically.

- “Ratchet” has had some serious staying power over the past year especially amongst teen girls, despite increased dialogue around cultural appropriation

-  The movie Mean Girls mistakenly claimed that “Fetch” would never happen.

Breakout Slang:

-   Bae: your significant other; stands for “before anyone else”

-   Thot: stands for “that ho over there”

-   Basic: used to describe a person or activity that is too obvious or vapid

-   Turn up: getting wild, most likely drunk or high

-   Slay: to succeed in something; similar to “killing it”

And while they’re not included in the above word cloud, these phrases are also gaining traction:

-  (Throwing) Shade: dissing someone or casually disrespecting them; this is an older slang phrase that has had a recent resurgence

-  Slide into the DMs: when you take flirting with someone on Twitter to the next level by smoothly moving the conversation from the public to private messages.

Intergenerational Twitter Wars

By Stephanie Monohan

The adult vs teen “generation wars” are heating up in social media. It seems everyone is hyper-consious of generational stereotypes, and ready to get in on critiquing other generations. A few recent examples: 

The hashtag #followateen resurfaced last week, encouraging adults to follow a random teenaged Twitter-user and post about what they find.

It seems that many of those who used the hashtag may not have actually followed teens, but the punchline ultimately was that teens and young adults overshare on social media, are opinionated about things are only relevant to their age-group, and sprinkle their language with emojis, which equally confound and amuse adults. However, it didn’t take long for teens to strike back, led by their fearless leaders of Rookie Mag:

The #followateen vs. #followanadult phenomenon occurred merely a few days before Time Magazine published its much-discussed cover story, “Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation.” Intelligent, well-researched critiques of Joel Stein’s piece surfaced immediately, but perhaps the best response (or at least the funniest) can be found in #followanadult.

So as we are in “generational-hyperconsious mode” it appears. Boomers seem to have adopted a 2013 version of “kids these days…”. While Millennials, on the other hand, find it ironic that equally tech-addicted Boomers make fun of youth tech use.  In the past, generations socialized more in separate spaces, making this generational tension a little less obvious…but now one of the unexpected by-products of Twitter ubiquity might be its use as the new battleground of intergenerational conflict!


by alison hillhouse

As entrepreneurship is such a key part of the Millennial generation’s DNA, you can see how this generation’s values are manifesting in the businesses they give birth to. In this series of posts, we’ll look at GenY businesses and how they reflect generational intent.


On a recent trip to Chicago, I bought a pair of sneakers from mostly-Millennial start-up Bucketfeet. Their mission is to give “talented artists a platform to showcase their art” and to get their fans “awesome, original shoes so they can stand out from the crowd.” It’s a very Millennial sentiment – sneakers with a purpose, that also provide a vehicle for self-expression.

As Bobby Stephens, COO of Bucketfeet said, “Wearing something that is different, colorful and unique is for someone who wants to get noticed… the shoes are a vehicle for people to start a conversation and tell a story. You aren’t just wearing Nike.” He showed us one pair of shoes created by a Columbian fine arts professor named “Fat Sugar”… and another by Sophie Roach, a young sketch artist from Austin, Texas.

To give you material for “the story of your shoes,” a personal note from the artist accompanies every pair:


Bucketfeet has rooted itself (for now) at Catapult, a largely Millennial co-working space in downtown Chicago. It’s chock-full of businesses espousing Millennial innovation mantras (crowdsourcing, customization, DIY, etc.) A few were:

·        StyleSeek - analyzes your “fashion DNA” to provide shopping recommendations

·        MentorMob – a how-to-DIY-anything social network, “changing the way you learn by leveraging the wisdom of the crowd”

·        shiftgig- a career networking site for the service industry

Bobby of Bucketfeet described the atmosphere:“Catapult is an exciting environment, with good collaboration and idea sharing. There’s no competition- it’s all about cooperation, how can we grow as a community?” And general manager April Lane noted, “Five years ago, you could fit the entire Chicago entrepreneurship scene in a space like Catapult… but now it’s just exploded.”

Zero-Distancing: The Collapsing Distance Between Fan & Celebrity

By Alison Hillhouse,  MTV Insights

* Here’s a sneak peak of what’s to come in @MTVInsights presentation at Social Media Week NYC on Feb 20th *

 It’s no longer unusual for the biggest pop star in the world to wish you luck on your math test, or for a reality star to forgo therapy and solicit advice from 8 million teen fans.  The pedestal has been dismantled by social media tools in the hands of a generation that loves to flatten hierarchies. We indeed live in a flat world  where fans demand not just a VIP pass to celebs, artists and entertainment experiences, but an eye-to-eye view.

 This is the age of “Zero-distancing”

 As Julian, 21, says “Today, artists can be your best friends.” So conversations like this between Nicole (@trukardashfan) and Khole Kardashian about Nicole’s upcoming midterms aren’t unusual:


As Nicole says, “Khloé always makes time to talk to all of her fans. Whenever I get a tweet from her it makes me so happy because it feels  like we are close since we communicate often.”

Millennials also crave intimate glimpses into the mundane daily activities of their favorite celebrities, such as Taylor’s cat claw clipping:


We hear from Millennials that they click through various social media channels to get different perspectives into a celeb’s life, like different video camera angles at a live performance. Each social media channel serves a distinct & unique purpose:

·         Facebook is the most “formal and official outlet” for tour updates and information

·         Twitter offers a “blow-by-blow feed”, and highlights interactions with other celebrities

·         Instagram provides a direct line into their literal world-view, like “seeing the world through their eyes”

·         Tumblr is the most intimate glimpse into an artists’ psyche/spirit. Jessica, 25, explains that it allows fans to get a authentic glimpse into an artist’s creative inspiration and process… it “shows how artists express themselves, the aesthetic that makes them tick.”

@MTVInsights will be speaking more about “zero-distancing” on February 20th at New York’s Social Media Week. We’ll start with a teen panel who will speak about their virtually-intimate relationships with celebs in social media, and then be joined by Viacom stars who will speak about their experience interacting with fans:

·         Nev Schulman from MTV’s “Catfish: The TV Show”

·         Drita D’Avanzo from VH1’s “Mob Wives”

·         Cody Alan from CMT’s “Hot 20 Countdown” and nightly syndicated radio show, “CMT Radio Live with Cody Alan”

·         Ivy Winters from Logo’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race”

Sign up here! Event will take place at Viacom’s headquarters in Times Square, 1515 Broadway.

(This article was originally published as a guest-post at Social Media Week)

The End of the (Material) World

By Nick Shore,  MTV Insights

At the end of 2012, we were having an @mtvinsights dinner with a little crew of 13 to15-year-olds, asking about their world and lives as the year came to a close.

The thing that struck me as especially poignant from the conversation was a response by one 14-year-old girl when I asked about how she thought the world would change in the next few years. “Newspapers will probably become extinct in our lifetime,” she said, “and we may be the last kids to use actual books in school. They are already starting to get iPads for us.”

The sense she conveyed was that the material world is in some ways disappearing before her very eyes. There was a distinct note of ennui in her voice. Or maybe it was the way my ears were tuned, since our discussions were taking place right before the end of the Mayan calendar. The world didn’t end, I reflected on December 22nd when we all woke up in one piece, but maybe it is ending in a way; a more curious way than we could ever have imagined. 

Things have always disappeared and been replaced by the new: horse & buggy to motor car, Betamax to VHS, etc. But is there a difference, I wondered, when something disappears into a string of 1’s and zeros? And what will it feel like to a generation who grew up watching this dynamic speed up, where materialism sprints ever more quickly towards the non-material?

I had a glimpse into the answer to my own question last week when I saw my own 15-year-old daughter listening to one of my songs on her iPhone.

 "Where did you get that song?" I asked.

 ”From my Cloud….oh, no, actually from your Cloud” she said.

 "Hey, you, get off my cloud" I managed to restrain myself from saying/singing. But to her, it’s clear and unquestionable  that most everything’s just floating up there; sent up into the atmosphere like all the stuff needed to make a new home in space, should the one we currently inhabit ever crumble or start to disappear.

Love Stuck: The Meandering Path From Hook-Up to FBO

By Alison Hillhouse,  MTV Insights

It seems everyone these days is bemoaning the state of 20-something relationships, from The Atlantic to the New York Times to Thought Catalog. Just this weekend, the NY Times published The End of Courtship,lamenting that hook-up culture has replaced traditional dating. MTV’s audience agrees – in fact, 8 in 10 18-24 year old viewers say they wish that “dating were more common than just hooking up.” And perhaps surprising to some – that number is the same for both males and females.

In this day of ambiguous text messaging, Facebook stalking and morphing gender roles, MTV research shows that Millennials are having an increasingly difficult time navigating the path from casual hook-ups to FBO. It seems to look something like this:


As Maddy, 21 explains ““Relationships tend to either be married or hooking up. We don’t know what’s in-between.”

We see a lot of what we call “faux-stalgia” among young men & women for the dating rituals of their parents’ era… an era they never actually even experienced firsthand. One collegiate woman said, “Today, it’s not about a conversation at a party and then a date… it’s all about Facebook and texting and will he change our status to FBO. If it’s not FBO, it’s not real. Back in my parents’ day, it wasn’t like that.”

Obviously technology plays a part in muddying the waters, as it facilitates a new “permissible vagueness” in today’s relationships (late night ‘heyyyyyy’ texts, casual encounters, etc.). Plus, there’s less societal pressure to settle down in your early 20’s. A few more interesting dynamics of “love-stuckness” we’ve seen:


Initiation Conundrum

Morphing gender roles (rise of the alpha female) have led to a world where it’s unclear who should initiate in heterosexual relationships. While girls complain that guys don’t do enough, likewise, many guys are frustrated that girls don’t play a bigger role.

Consider these two stats: 76% of girls say guys don’t take enough initiative in relationships… and 64% of guys say girls should take more of a role initiating relationships. Though the first-date-rule still holds relatively sacred (both genders generally believe guys should organize and pay), guys feel that girls should play a bigger part in pre-first-date-initiation, and also the facilitation of future dates. 

A lot of young men confess to us they are “terrified” of approaching women in bars who can often be “total bitches,” and also harbor some concern they will offend women for offering to pay. Meanwhile, a majority of the young women in our panels say they crave the storybook romance they see in The Notebook and Disney movies.

But my stock is rising…

The ‘more fish in the sea’ adage has never been more true, with the plethora of online dating sites available to ‘shop’ for mates, a giant pool of Facebook ‘friends of friends,’ and many apps that facilitate meeting potentials (we’ve heard tales of people meeting on Words with Friends, and even a guy who picks up girls through Yelp reviews he writes). So not surprisingly, a lot of people just don’t want to commit. As one of our panelists who has had a great deal of success with online dating puts it: “Why should I sell if my stock is rising?”

Faux Sex and the City Mentality

Millennials have a love/hate relationship with hooking up. As the author of The End of Men explains in the NY Times “Nobody says, ‘I love the hookup culture,’ and nobody says, ‘I want it to change and go back.’ ” A lot of our panelists feel conflicted about this dynamic, and many who long for something more serious say they put on a front that they are “cool” with a casual hook-up.

So perhaps not surprisingly, we’ve seen Millennials turn to tech for answers (or at least for a good laugh.) There’s apps like Drunk Dial NO! that don’t allow you to text certain people after a certain hour, and sites like hetexted.com that help you decipher text messages. So maybe now you can finally have some closure as to what that “it was cool to hang out” text really means… 


Male-ennials…and the Rise of the Wolfpack

By Jill Bromann,  MTV

photo credit: College Humor

Guys have moved in packs ever since they were hunting with spears, and the concept of the “bromance” and “metrosexual” are at least as old as is I Love You, Man. However, there are significant and noteworthy new dynamics emerging with guys’ relationships with other guys that seem to be driven by a changing social, economic and cultural landscape.

Male-ennials are More Open than Ever Before

In a recent MTV survey, we found that nearly half of our male 18-24 year-old respondents reported that they “share emotional stuff” with their guy friends, representing a clear difference from similar research conducted as recently as a few decades ago that bemoaned the lack of emotional intimacy in male friendships. We theorize that an underlying force – the mothers of Male-ennials – has inspired more closeness among guys

Compared to mothers of previous generations, the mothers of Male-ennials instilled values of open communication within their children from a young age.  Many Male-ennials were raised by moms who came of age during the height of the second wave of feminism (e.g., the bra-burning of the 1960s and 1970s), and certainly were influenced as mothers by the zeitgeist of their formative years. Contrary to the parenting they received, these mothers encouraged their sons to express themselves, rather than bottling their emotions. 

Turning to Bros and “father Google” to Navigate Masculinity

At the other end of the parenting dynamic, many Male-ennials grew up feeling that their dads were from a less enlightened frame of mind, and thus unable to weigh in on navigating important social areas of their lives such as relationships within social media, or the complicated space of being a 20-something guy in a challenging economy.  Without his dad’s guidance on key issues, one Male-ennial told us his friends resort to “father Google” and often collaborate with their fellow peers as they figure out the evolving face of masculinity together.

Broculture Dominates their Social Life

The rise of increasingly elaborate male bonding activities and badges of wolfpack identity, such as matching accessories and “family portraits” of guy friends sent out as holiday cards, reflect how guys today are both self-referentially mocking and embracing “broculture” as never before. One group of guy friends indicated expressing their bro solidarity by wearing matching Swatches while living in various time zones.  Another group of friends reportedly band up and ride around to bars in matching cruiser bikes on the weekends

Wolfpack proudly displays each friend’s matching Swatch.

Extended Bachelorhood Changes the Game

The advent of “mancations” and “bro-outs” over fantasy football teams are another manifestation of the increasing length of time guys remain bachelors.  The median age at first marriage has consistently risen since the birth of Millennials in the 1980s, from 24.7 for men in 1980 to 28.2 in 2010. Compare the current timeline of bachelorhood to Male-ennials’ generational predecessors, and the difference is striking: guys from the previous generation dedicated more time and savings on raising families as relatively younger men than guys today.  As Male-ennials enjoy singlehood longer, they can reap the bro-ish perpetuation of their college-era friendships, with more time on their hands and greater discretionary incomes to spend on activities with guy friends. 

Wolfpack dresses up in pink flamingo costumes during biannual guy’s trip to teh Bay the Breakers footrace in San Francisco.

It seems that today’s guys have been inspired by the “bromance,” in the Urban Dictionary defn: “the complicated love and affection shared by two straight males.”…and turned the page for “wolfpack,” defn: “a brotherhood of attractive male friends who are bonded together by concentrated awesomeness.”

Safe Sex 2.0?

By Matt Cohen, MTV Insights


In true Millennial fashion, the students behind the recently-launched “NYU Hook Ups” Facebook page are taking an organized and responsible approach to…well, anonymous sex.  Tackling their new venture with the same dedication and efficiency they’d normally reserve for an extracurricular activity, these students are helping classmates hook up faster and smarter.

Why waste time scanning through hundreds of OKCupid profiles when you can post anonymously on NYU Hook Ups and wait for the “Likes” from potential hook up buddies to roll in?

Some of “NYU Hook Ups” safety and efficiency features include:

  • a 2-step verification process to confirm that hook-up seekers are actual NYU students (No need to open yourself up to Craigslist randos  when you can stay within the safety of your college bubble)
  • a commitment to keeping post-ers “100% anonymous” and to “hook[ing] you up in less than 24 hours” (Sure beats Match.com’s six-month guarantee)
  • an advisory urging users to “be careful” and “always make sure to use condoms” (Thank you free NYC condoms!)

As Millennials take unexpectedly responsible approaches towards other “taboo” or “rebellious” behaviors – whether it’s serving as the sober “babysitter” for a friend who is planning to get wasted or using home testing kits to make sure their molly is free of “harmful substances” – this generation is truly redefining what it means to have “good clean fun.”

UPDATE: NYU Hook Ups announced yesterday that they will be transitioning over to a full site with a more sophisticated interface.  Could we be witnessing the birth of a new start-up?


"What’d You Say?": A Quick Dip into Millennial Slang

By Jillian Curran, MTV Insights

After spending countless hours on social media and talking to Millennials themselves, it’s impossible not to notice the rapid evolution of youth slang and how closely it is tied to the heartbeat of the generation. Here are a few emerging trends that speak to how they define what popular is today, living in the moment and their fratty sense of humor.

The Chill Hustle: We noticed two sets of words emerging simultaneously that describe the perfect combination of cool.  One set comprised of words like, “chilla”, “chillax,” “straight chilla” and at the same time words like “hustle”, “on my grind”, “Boss” were popping. Put those two together and you get “the chill hustle”. These words describe someone who is motivated, successful, has their hands in a million things but can still have a good time. They make success look easy.  For Millennials who thrive on being self-made, these words pop up in tweets and everyday speak to show how hard they are working and their jack-of-all-trades ambition. At the same time, they want to show they are cool, calm and collected and look damn good while their making moves.  As one intern Jaclyn told us, “I have so much going on, but you always want to look chill. The worst thing in the world is to be called stressed!”

YOLO (you only live once) popularized by Drake’s song “The Motto” was a huge hit among Millennials. At first we saw people declaring this as their generational anthem, some tattooing it on their wrists or hashtagging it on every tweet; YOLO felt like it encapsulated Milennials’ care-free attitude and drive to live it up. But with anything, the oversaturation of YOLO has spurred an equally popular backlash. People have used YOLO to call out insignificant events or poke fun at people who are acting ridiculous.  Either way, YOLO’s moment in time shows this generation’s desire to experience everything before age 30 and waste no time or opportunity.

Cool Story, Bro: We’ve seen a new kind of Frat Bro humor emerging, used to call out anyone that is acting dumb or foolish; mocking college frat culture.  If past generation’s humor was more cynical or snarky, this generation is ruled by an undercutting wit, like a smart slap. Cool story, bro is a quick response to call out a friend and get the upper hand on the joke.  Cool story, bro. The best part was when you stopped talking

Other variations of this lingo are:

o   Soft : “Yo bro, You’re eating a pinkberry? Stop being so soft.”

o   That’s so Frat: “Yo, is that dip spit on my sperries?  #thatsofrat”

o   She can get it:  Guys have this faux-cockiness, so instead of saying “I’m into this chick”, it’s “Yo bro, Jenn can get it.” It’s like I’m so awesome, she can get with me!

In addition to some trends, here’s a quick list of random and awesomely funny youth speak.  Who knows, some of these could show up in the next installment of Webster’s Dictionary.

  • N.A.R.P (Not a Real Person): “Snooki is such a NARP
  • #Boom:  Used after a good comment or joke, an extra exclamation. “ Making things happen today. #BOOM
  • Wifed- Up: You’re guy friend hangs out with his lady too much. “ Kevin can’t hang out tonight, he’s wifed’ up”
  • Getting Swole: For those who spend too much time in the gym. Short for swollen. “Yo Bro, you’re so swole!
  • White Girl Wasted: For those who have a little too much to drink. “ Damn, I got so white girl wasted last night.”
  • Selfie: Turn your camera around and take a pic, you got yourself a selfie. Some of our panelists have told us they will send selfies to their friends if they have nothing else to talk about.
  • Mupload: Mobile Upload

Dear MTV: I Think I’m Having A Quarter-Life Crisis

Junene Taylor, MTV Inner Circle / Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Millennials like you and I have a bit of a problem on our hands. Because of our misfortune in having graduated during this economic climate, many of us are “on pause” from chasing the American Dream. Instead we are chilling in our parent’s basement waiting for our Dream to re-emerge and knock on the door. Preferably with pizza. But once we realize that this isn’t happening anytime soon, the ¼ life crisis can set in.
How do you know for sure that you’re caught in the vortex of a QLC? Here’s the checklist:

1. You repeatedly doodle on coasters “Why oh why didn’t I invent Pinterest?” 

2. You change your major between 3 and 6 times.

3. You are jealous of how popular your cat is with all the other cats, and want her “social life”.

4. You spend a whole Wednesday creeping on the Facebook walls of a friend you haven’t seen since kindergarten.

5. You self-pierce your nose (on a whim).

6. You break out in a cold sweat every time you see the sweet girl with the 4.0 and Ryan Gosling look-alike boyfriend.

7. You genuinely wish you could participate in the Hunger Games.

8. You genuinely wish you were a vampire