Traverse City Record-Eagle


The March list — decoding teen lingo

By Sherry Kula TuckerI swore I wouldn’t become my mother, not that there is anything wrong with that. But I swore that when I had kids, I would be cool. Well, that didn’t exactly pan out. Somehow I became the uncool mom that I thought my mom was back when I was in high school. The funny thing is, I don’t care like I thought I would.

Now when I think about it, if I were to act like my teenage kid, I would be embarrassed. If you have teenagers my advice to you is, don’t go around saying things like “Oh man, that’s so dope,” because you will just look stupid.

However, here is a list of some of today’s phrases or words used by teens so you can understand what they are saying.

1. “Sick” — Apparently when something is “sick” it is a good thing. The phrase “That boat is sick” doesn’t mean something is wrong with it, it means it’s cool.

2. “Dope” — Another odd way of saying something is cool. “Oh man, you’re so dope” is a compliment and not a reference to someone who uses drugs.

3. “Swag” — Personally I kind of like this word. “You’ve got swag” means you’ve got style, you’ve got it goin’ on, and you fit in. I tried to tell my daughter when she asked me how she looked that she had swag but she said “Mom – no, just don’t say that.”

4. “Fly” — I could swear that was a word we used back in my day. Remember the “Fly Girls?” They were cool. Today it means the same thing, but according to my kids, someone my age shouldn’t say fly unless we see a bug on the wall.

5. “Tight” — Yes, another recognizable word, still meaning close. Good friends might say “We’re tight.” I guess it also means cool, as in “That trick you did was tight.”

6. “Ballin’” — Stupid word in my opinion. I would say they have enough words referring to looking good or cool. This is another one to add to the list.

7. “Teach me how to Dougie” — Teach you what? Don’t worry, it isn’t some strange new math, it’s just a dance. We had Hammer Time, my parents did The Hustle and my kids want to Dougie.

8. “Tool” — This is a reference for boys only and it’s not a compliment. A tool, I’m told, is someone who is a jerk, someone who thinks they are cooler than everyone else and (this I don’t understand) shows off their abs to everybody even if they don’t have abs worth showing.

9. “Photo Bomb” — When someone ambushes your picture they photo bombed it.

10. “Sketchy” — Another word I insist I could get away with using, but my kids beg me not to use it. This means it’s something rough looking, not safe, crazy, or not a smart thing to do. “That ramp looks sketchy.”

So there you have it — maybe not a top-10, but certainly 10 things you will hear around the high schools in northern Michigan these days.

  • Scott

    i guess I am out of loop on what is cool,I was a custodian for 18 years and I didnt understand some of the jargon the elementary school kids used,and when I did It wasnt cool for me to use.I wasnt as tight with the high schoolers,so When i did hear the jargon of the day,I just figured it wouldnt be cool to use it in front of them anyway.At least that is what my college age kids said.

  • Nanawheels2007

    Thanks for filling some of us who are out of the “lingo loop” in.  This may help me as my grandkids enter teen age years. 
    And  I think I may  know what you mean as far as not caring much that you are not “cool” with your teens.  It is much more important to be a parent to our teens than to be a “cool mom” or “cool dad”.

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