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What "woke" and 50 other millennial sayings mean

  • What "woke" and 50 other millennial sayings mean

    Millennials are a unique generation. This is the first generation in American history since their grandparents—or, in some cases, their great-grandparents—to have weathered a recession. Millennials are still emerging as a group developmentally and economically. And unlike their parents, baby boomers and Gen Xers who had a set path laid out for them, millennials have had to, in many ways, reshape the economy as they have gone along.

    Many of this generation born between 1981 and 1996 have eschewed traditional careers in favor of the so-called gig economy. Millennials have been called—with some debate—the narcissistic generation for having grown up with adulation at their every accomplishment, and it's an interesting question as to whether they are products of parenting, technology, or society, which has undergone so many changes in the past half-century.

    One thing millennials are not is boring, and their use of language is as ever-changing as their financial situations. The millennial lexicon is as varied as those who speak it, tweet it, text it, and post it. There are phrases that speak to millennials' late arrival to responsibility (e.g., adulting) and those that speak to their love for one another (e.g., bae, fam, squad).

    Stacker researched and compiled a list of 50 common millennial sayings from “IRL” and “FOMO” to “woke” and “yeet.” Whether you are a millennial, know a millennial, love a millennial, or can't stand millennials, this handy guide should make it at least a little easier to understand what they're saying. Read on to find out how to avoid being “hangry” at your next group gathering—or why you would even consider such a thing—and how to integrate language borrowed from LGBTQ ball culture into your everyday conversations.

    You may also like: Notable new words coined the year you were born

  • Adulting

    No one likes “adulting,” least of all millennials. The term refers to the mundane tasks of doing laundry, cooking, and paying bills. The very existence of a specialized word for doing these tasks is a subtle nod to millennials' delayed development in hitting adult milestones, according to lexicographer Jane Solomon.

  • Bae

    Referring to one's significant other or simply the acronym Before Anyone Else, “bae” is often found in memes and Instagram captions. It's a term of endearment used by those who are too hurried or lazy to use the word “baby” or “babe.”

  • Basic

    People definitely don't want to be called "basic"; the term describes a person who is only interested in mainstream, popular things and can't think for themselves. A “basic” person is a cookie-cutter version of everyone else with the same style, the same tastes, and the same personality.

  • Blessed

    Most often used with a hashtag in front of it (i.e., #blessed), this is a term millennials use to express gratitude or appreciation for good fortune, though some of its uses are questionable (e.g., “That booty pic? #blessed”).

  • Bougie

    “Bougie” is a term used to describe someone who acts as though they are of a higher socioeconomic class and stems from the French word “bourgeois” (middle class). The term has been popularized by rappers and other celebrities in the past few years. Some examples of “bougie” things include designer coffee, rose wine, and private schools starting with pre-K.

  • Bounce

    When someone says they need to “bounce,” it means they need to leave—fast. It may have originated from the term "bouncer," or someone who rejects people from the door of a nightclub.

  • Can't even

    A grammatical nightmare, this phrase means someone is so exasperated that they can't even deal with completing the phrase properly. When someone “literally can't even,” it means they can no longer deal with a particular person, situation, or thing.

  • Canceled

    Almost anything can be "canceled"—a person, a fast-food restaurant, or an especially rough year. Frequently applied to celebrities who commit a public gaffe (i.e. "Taylor Swift is canceled"), the term is a wholesale rejection or rebuke. Sometimes it translates to an actual boycott, but often it's simply a Twitter joke.

  • Clap back

    To “clap back” is the best way to respond to criticism or insults. A person may “clap back” at a frenemy who mocks their outfit by responding with a sharp comeback with attitude.

  • Cray

    Short for “cray cray,” which was originally slang for crazy, “cray” just means crazy. The phrase was popularized by the song “N****s in Paris” by Jay-Z and Kanye West.

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