100 Slang Words That Dominated the 2010s
"Shook," "stan," and "twerk" were all added to the dictionary over the past decade.
The English language is constantly evolving, and the last 10 years have been no exception. Throughout the 2010s, we've seen a slew of new slang words that you might say are on fleek. We're not trying to mansplain the last decade of slang to any wordies out there, but if you're still confused about what the kids are saying these days, have no fear. We're breaking down 2010s slang with 100 words that were added to the Oxford English Dictionary or Merriam-Webster in the last decade.
You can thank Nev Schulman for this 2010s slang term. While catfish was originally just a type of fish, it gained a new meaning—someone creating a false personal profile online to dupe someone else—after the documentary Catfish was released in 2010. The film, which highlighted Schulman's experience with a woman who used social media to pretend to be another woman entirely, spawned a long-running TV show of the same name, and eventually the word's new definition.
Bromance was one of the earliest slang terms to arrive in the 2010s. Blending the terms "bro" and "romance," this slang word marks a close, nonsexual friendship between men.
Instagram launched as a platform in October 2010, and it quickly became a part of our everyday vocabulary. To Instagram something simply describes the act of posting a photo on the app. Then there's the adjective Instagrammable, which means something is picture-perfect enough to share with the masses.
While cougar has existed as a word for a breed of large cat for ages, it's now also a way of identifying a person. The new meaning, which describes a "middle-aged woman seeking a romantic relationship with a younger man," was added to Merriam-Webster in 2011.
Sexting is a term that blends the words "sex" and "texting," as a way to refer to the act of sending sexually explicit messages or images by cell phone. The slang term has been around since the beginning of the 21st century, but wasn't recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary until 2011.
The Oxford English Dictionary added a new meaning to the term heart in 2011. To say "I heart something" has become synonymous with saying you love it, thanks to the rising use of the heart emoji.
Ever had a catchy song or melody repeat over and over in your mind? That's known as an earworm. This meaning of the word was added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2011, but earworm also at one point described a "counselor who gives advice in secret."
In the age of social media, it's no surprise that the urge to become a helicopter parent is more prevalent than ever. The idea of a parent who is a little too involved in the life of their child has been around for a long time, but Merriam-Webster put a name to this strict, over-involved parenting in 2011.
Selfies have taken over social media in the last decade. The term, which describes a photo taken of oneself, was first used in 2002 according to Merriam-Webster, but it didn't gain popularity until around 2012. It got so popular, in fact, that it was chosen as Oxford Dictionaries' Word of the Year in 2013.
Thanks to social media, photobombing became all the rage in the 2010s. The slang term describes the act of someone moving into the frame of a photo, most often as a joke or prank—but sometimes even as a promotional stunt. Who could forget the viral photobombing by the Fiji Water Girl at the 2019 Golden Globes?
The creation of Netflix streaming in 2007—and the premiere of its first original content in 2013—helped give birth to the act of binge-watching television. The term has blown up over the last decade to refer to the act of watching "many or all episodes of (a TV series) in rapid succession."
First World problem
Ever had a First World problem? This concept of a relatively trivial or minor problem—in contrast to the very serious problems experienced by those in developing countries—was popularized on Twitter and added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2012.
Want the deets? This shorthand form of the word "details" became common slang among the younger generation in the 2010s, and it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2012.
The inspo for this slang term is quite simple: It's the shortened form of the word "inspiration." Inspo was first used in 2012, according to Merriam-Webster. It's often used in the context of inspiration for fashion, i.e. fashion inspo, but it has also been stretched to mean "inspirational."
No need to vom when you hear this slang term. Teens in the 2010s are all about shortening their words, and this abbreviation for "vomit" is no exception. Its usage became so common in the beginning of the decade that the Oxford English Dictionary added it in 2012.
It's almost too easy to humblebrag these days when we post online. The term, created by the late Harris Wittels and added to the dictionary by Merriam-Webster, is the act of posting something online that seems "modest, self-critical, or casual" but is really meant to draw attention to a person's achievements or impressive qualities.
Someone might throw you a little side-eye if you don't recognize this popular 2010s slang term. If someone is giving you side-eye, it means they're looking at you with a sidelong glance that typically expresses "scorn, suspicion, disapproval, or veiled curiosity."
If your dad dances poorly, don't worry, you're not alone. This concept of hilarious, uncoordinated dancing done by dads became so common in the last decade that the Oxford English Dictionary recognized the slang term dad dancing in 2013.
Tweet (in the context of Twitter) also became officially recognized as both a verb and noun by the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013. (Yes, there was a time when tweet only referred to the sound birds make.) You can officially either say you are sending a tweet, or that you are tweeting.
As buzzworthy as you might think it is, the word buzzworthy wasn't added to the Oxford English Dictionary until 2013. It's used to describe anything "likely to generate enthusiastic interest and attention."
Of course you could totally unfriend someone before the age of social media, but not in the way it's meant nowadays. In 2014, Merriam-Webster recognized the word to refer to the act of removing someone "from a list of designated friends on a person's social networking website."
A push for increased eco-friendly efforts became more commonplace in the last decade. The idea of upcycling, which means reusing materials to create a "product of higher value or quality," was just one of these efforts, and the Oxford English Dictionary recognized the word in 2014.
As the fight for skinnier and skinnier jeans became all the rage in the early 2010s, jeggings were born. These skin-tight pants were dubbed jeggings because they combined the look of jeans with the tightness of leggings, and the slang term was officially added to Merriam-Webster in 2015.
If you don't know what twerking is, you might be living under a rock. This slang term refers to a form of dancing, typically to the beat of hip-hop, that went mainstream in the 2010s. The Oxford English Dictionary added the word in 2015.
While the word meme has been around since 1976, according to Merriam-Webster, its newest meaning only became widely used in the last decade thanks to notable memes like "Grumpy Cat." Merriam-Webster added the modern sense of the word in 2015, describing "an amusing or interesting item (such as a captioned picture of video) or genre of items that is spread widely online especially through social media."
Emojis as we know them today gained worldwide usage through Apple products around 2011. The usage of these symbols became so common in the mid-2010s that Merriam-Webster added the Japanese word to American dictionaries in 2015.
For better or worse, specialized diets have become more recognizable and widespread with the help of the internet. Added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2015, the freegan diet, which combines the terms "free" and "vegan," refers to a person who eats "discarded food, typically collected from the refuse of shops or restaurants for ethical or ecological reasons."
Meh, used to express indifference and a lack of enthusiasm, was also recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary in 2015. It was likely popularized by The Simpsons.
Ship in 2010s doesn't just refer to a boat out at sea. Short for the word "relationship," ship was also recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary in 2015. It means "discussing, portraying, or advocating a romantic pairing" between two people, mostly in terms of characters in a fictional work.
Who needs a vacation when you can have a staycation? Another 2015 addition to the Oxford English Dictionary, staycation combines "stay" and "vacation" to describe the act of taking vacation time to be spent at or near your home.
Slang acronyms have also found their way into the official dictionaries. FOMO, otherwise known as the "fear of missing out," has been a favorite term of the younger generation over the past decade, and Merriam-Webster added the word in 2016.
That same year, Merriam-Webster also added ICYMI, meaning "in case you missed it." It's usually used when someone reposts something online in case certain people didn't see it when it was posted the first time around.
To dox someone means you are identifying or publishing private information about them publicly online, most often as a form of revenge. While the word's first usage is dated to 2009, Merriam-Webster didn't add the word until 2016.
In the age of Tinder and Bumble, many people have gone so far as to fabricate fake meet-cute scenarios with their romantic partner. Adding the word in 2016, Merriam-Webster describes a meet-cute as an amusing first encounter between two people that leads to a romantic relationship, which is the typical plot line for any romcom.
Throwing on gym clothes without having plans to actually go to the gym? Then you're participating in one of the latest fashion trends: athleisure. Combining the terms "athletic" and "leisure," the word was added to Merriam-Webster in 2016.
There's a flood of clickbait material online these days, which means "online content that is designed to encourage the user to click through to a certain web page," usually involving "sensational headlines or images." And while the word's first known use was in 2006 by Jay Geiger, the Oxford English Dictionary didn't add it until 10 years later in 2016.
With the rise of YouTube, came the rise of YouTubers. This was the term given to those who regularly create and publish content on the website, and it was recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary in 2016.
Also recognized by Merriam-Webster in 2017, the term Seussian relates to none other than—you guessed it—Dr. Seuss himself. This slang word references the playful or imaginative qualities that are often found in the works of the legendary children's author.
Trolls are a classic fairy tale staple, but within the last decade, the word has taken on a new meaning in the internet age. Merriam-Webster redefined the term in 2017 to describe the act of antagonizing others online through "posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments."
When Merriam-Webster added the slang term slay to the dictionary in 2017, it had nothing to do with knights and swords. Instead, it was a verb that meant "to strongly impress or overwhelm someone," most often used by drag queens or in reference to stars like Beyoncé by their dedicated fan-base.
You could call this the decade of dabbing, which is a slang term Merriam-Webster also recognized in 2017. This dance craze, which had people posing with their nose in the crook of their bent elbow in a celebratory fashion, was done across the world by teens and adults alike.
The word front took on new meaning in 2017 when Merriam-Webster added a new definition. Over the last decade, the slang term was popularized as a verb meaning "to assume a fake or false personality to conceal one's true identity and character."
While salty once just referred to how some people like their food, it now describes a person who shows resentment toward another person or situation, synonymous with the word "bitter." Merriam-Webster notes that this usage became extremely popular in 2017.
Shade is the act of subtly expressing contempt or disgust with something or someone. Merriam-Webster added the word's new meaning in 2017; shade has been around for decades, but as Merriam-Webster noted, it hit the mainstream thanks to the rise of RuPaul's Drag Race.
Fortunately men were able to relax a bit in the last decade because dad bods were all the rage. The idea of a man who is considered attractive despite having a little extra weight on him, like a dad naturally would, took over the internet in the mid-2010s, and Merriam-Webster recognized the term in 2017.
Woke in 2019 doesn't just refer to not being asleep. The slang term to describe someone who is very aware or well-informed in terms of political or cultural movements also hit the mainstream in the last decade. With the help of Erykah Badu's lyrics in "Master Teacher," the word was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2017.
Secret sauce isn't just about food—now it's universal. Updated with its new meaning by Merriam-Webster in 2017, secret sauce means "an element, quality, ability, or practice that makes something or someone successful or distinctive."
The slang phrase go nuclear was updated by Merriam-Webster in 2017. While it once referred to the literal use of nuclear weapons, or figuratively described someone acting in a unrestrained manner, the 2016 election broadened its metaphorical meaning to someone becoming furious and resorting "to drastic measures in an attempt to undermine an opponent."
In the last decade, the term flight has been redefined as "a selection of alcoholic drinks (such as wines, beers, or whiskeys) for tasting as a group." The new meaning was added to Merriam-Webster in September 2018 as this form of drinking became more popular.
Extra has become a widely used internet phrase to refer to someone on social media—or even offline nowadays—who is overly dramatic. The Oxford English Dictionary recognized the word in 2018.
We've got groupies and foodies, but in 2018, Merriam-Webster gave us the term wordie. If you're someone who thinks of themselves as a word lover—for example, you're loving this post—you would be a wordie.
Another plane-related term to pop up with a new meaning this decade was airplane mode. Added by Merriam-Webster in 2018, this refers to placing your electronic devices in a mode that does not allow them to send or receive communications—typically implemented on airplanes.
Also recognized by Merriam-Webster in 2018 was the slang term for "random." However, rando is specifically used to describe a random person who is "not known or recognizable," most typically in a negative or unwelcome manner.
With the rise of streaming content online, some consumers have begun to participate in hate-watching. This concept of watching content you dislike just to laugh at it was officially recognized by Merriam-Webster in 2018.
The Oxford English Dictionary also recognized the term me time in 2018 to describe time devoted to doing what one wants, instead of doing things for other people. In this age of self-care, it's commonly used as a way to decrease stress.
While winter snowflakes may be pretty, the term has taken on a negative connotation over the last decade. The Oxford English Dictionary added a new meaning to the word in 2018: It's now used as an insult to characterize someone as "overly sensitive or easily offended." It probably comes from the novel and film Fight Club, which contain the phrase, "You are not special, you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake."
A new meaning to the word swag was also added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2018. Derived from the word "swagger," this word means someone who is bold or self-assured in both their style and manner. The definition now also includes the "walk" of someone who has swag.
The internet has facilitated the leak of spoilers that can ruin shows, movies, and books. Added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2018, the slang phrase spoiler alert is now used across the web to alert someone that what they're about to read contains important details about a story line.
The Bechdel test, which was originally coined by cartoonist Alison Bechdel, is an informal way to evaluate whether a piece of work portrays women in a sexist or stereotypical way. Also recognized by Merriam-Webster in 2018, the term says that a work must include at least two named women that talk to each other about something other than a man.
Ace became a fixture of the LGBTQIA+ community this last decade; the term is an informal way to describe someone who identifies as asexual, meaning they do not experience sexual feelings or desires. The Oxford English Dictionary added the word in 2018.
If you've heard the younger generation talking about their fam, they're simply referring to the people they consider to be a part of their "family." This shortened slang term was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2018.
Guac? That'll be extra! This shortened slang version of the word "guacamole" became all the rage this past decade—so much so that Merriam-Webster officially added it to their dictionary in 2018.
We're not talking about animals here. GOAT means "greatest of all time" and is a nickname giving to someone viewed admirably or looked up to, most often in terms of sports. Merriam-Webster recognized the acronym in 2018.
A new meaning of burner was added to the dictionary by Merriam-Webster in 2018. It's now used as an attributive noun that refers to something disposable or unable to be traced, like a burner phone or a burner account.
Merriam-Webster added the term hot take in 2018 to describe a "published reaction or analysis of a recent news event that, often because of its time-sensitive nature, doesn't offer much in the way of deep reflection." The slang phrase combines the definition of "hot" that means "immediate interest" and "take" as "a distinct point of view."
Added by Merriam-Webster in 2018, welp is a slang word that is synonymous to the interjection of the word "well." It's similar in its creation to "yep" for "yes" and "nope" for "no."
Previously, nonplussed meant being unsure about what to do in a situation, but it's quickly gained a new meaning in the last decade. Because so many people were using it to describe someone who is "not bothered, surprised, or impressed by something," that's now one of its official meanings.
In 2018, Merriam-Webster added the slang phrase dumpster fire. A more interesting way to describe something as disastrous, its official definition refers to "an utterly calamitous or mismanaged situation or occurrence."
Here's the TL;DR—Merriam-Webster added this phrase in 2018. Short for "too long; didn't read," it's commonly used online to get a short summary of a story that someone might find too long to get through.
No one wants to encounter a hangry person. The word, which is a combination of the words "hungry" and "angry," describes someone who is irritable just because they are hungry. It was added to Merriam-Webster in September 2018.
Bougie was derived from the word "bourgeois" (a person of middle class stature), and was recognized by Merriam-Webster in 2018. In slang terms, it refers to a "concern for wealth, possessions, and respectability." So if someone is bougie, you could say they enjoy the finer things in life.
The younger generation knows that not everyone is a fan of the less-than-luxurious experience of camping, which is how glamping came to be. Added to Merriam-Webster in 2018, the slang term refers to outdoor camping with luxurious amenities and comforts like beds, electricity, and access to indoor plumbing.
There are plenty of ways to tweet, and one of the most thrilling is subtweeting. The word, which was recognized by Merriam-Webster in 2018, describes that act of responding to someone or referencing someone through a tweet, but without directly linking to their account or mentioning them by name.
To mansplain is to explain something to someone in a "condescending way that assumes [they have] no knowledge about the topic," specifically when it's a man explaining something to a woman. While the word comes from Rebecca Solnit's 2008 essay "Men Explain Things to Me," it wasn't officially added by Merriam-Webster until March 2018.
Bae has been a popular term throughout the 2010s to describe someone's romantic partner, most likely as a shortened form of "babe" or "baby." The word was officially recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary in 2019.
When Merriam-Webster added a new meaning to the word receipts in 2019, they weren't talking about the kind you get from the grocery store. In the 2010s, we used receipts to mean the collection of proof or evidence, and we can probably thank Whitney Houston for that.
Few people get to have the coveted title of EGOT. This slang term, which was added by Merriam-Webster in 2019, is used to describe anybody who has won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award. Stars that have accomplished this include Audrey Hepburn, Whoopi Goldberg, and John Legend.
Back in the day, unplug simply meant you were unplugging an electronic device, but now humans can unplug. The new meaning added by Merriam-Webster in 2019 refers to the act of temporarily withdrawing from the stressors of everyday life by refraining from using electronics.
According to Merriam-Webster, lit has been around as slang for over a century, but it used to solely describe someone who is drunk. It still has that meaning, but nowadays young people will also use it to describe something as exciting or enjoyable, i.e. a party being lit.
If you're calling something gucci, it's a good thing. Meaning "great or excellent," Merriam-Webster says its earliest usage was in a September 1999 issue of Harper's Bazaar, where Lenny Kravitz described his stylish bedroom as very "Gucci."
You don't want to be on the receiving end of a clapback. In contrast to the standard comeback, this slang term describes a response to criticism that is especially quick, sharp, and effective. It was added to Merriam-Webster in 2019.
As younger generations have started to grow up and become more involved in politics, they've added new terms into the mix as well. One of these is purple state—metaphorically referring to the blend of red Republicans and blue Democrats in geographical areas where voters are split—which Merriam-Webster officially added to the dictionary in 2019.
Merriam-Webster also added a new meaning to the word peak in 2019. Instead of simply referring to a physical point on something, it's been expanded to describe the possible "height of popularity, use, or attention" of something or someone. If you use a lot of the slang on this list, someone might call you peak millennial.
Clock has gained a newer meaning over the past few years. Instead of just referring to a device that tells time, the definition of clock was broadened by Merriam-Webster in 2019: It's now also a verb that means "noticing" or "realizing" something.
To describe an overly enthusiastic fan, Merriam-Webster added this new word in 2019. The slang term comes from the 2000 Eminem song "Stan," in which the title character is dangerously obsessed with the rapper.
When "feelings" became feels, we got a new way to describe our tender inner emotions in phrases such as "all of the feels" or "right in the feels."
Before Twitter and Facebook, flex just meant to move your muscles to show off your strength. However, through the rise of social media, the definition was broadened to refer to figurative acts of flexing in order to show off to an online audience. And if your bragging feels especially misguided, you might get hit with a "weird flex, but OK."
Swole is another exercise-oriented word that got a new meaning in 2019. Years ago, had someone said you were swole, it might have made you worry that you were swelling up. Nowadays, however, it's used to describe an extremely muscular person. The phrase "get swole" means you're trying to achieve that physique.
The phrase Debbie Downer came from a Saturday Night Live sketch of the same name in 2004. The term has only gained popularity as a phrase over the past decade, describing any relentlessly negative person.
If you were "shaken up" by something in the 2010s, you would say you're shook. The slang term came about in the mid-2010s as a way to describe someone who is either "upset or agitated" or "filled with excitement or dismay." And if you're YouTuber Christine Sydelko, you might even be shooketh.
If you're talking about jelly in 2019, it might not have anything to do with what you spread on toast. As Merriam-Webster notes, the slang term is a shortened form of "jealous."
While it's been a word for decades, adult as a verb just gained popularity (and Merriam-Webster's approval) over the last decade. Adulting means you are behaving like an adult by doing responsible, grown-up things—or at least trying.
The kind of thirsty we're talking about in 2019 is not something water can fix. According to Merriam-Webster, this new meaning of the word reflects a strong, avid desire for something—or, more often, someone.
Back in the day, cancel in the entertainment world simply meant your favorite show wasn't being renewed for a new season. Since 2018, however, the word has taken on a new meaning: Public figures are canceled—as in, fans stop supporting them—on the basis of problematic or abusive behavior, or objectionable opinions.
No, we're not talking about the paranormal here—although some would consider it just as scary. Ghost is now also a verb that means cutting off all contact with someone else (typically a romantic partner) without any prior warning or explanation. Spooky!
Sesh has been around as a slang term for a while, as a shortened form of the word "session." Used in the context of everything from a "jam sesh" to a "bonding sesh," the word wasn't added by Merriam-Webster until September 2019.
Merriam-Webster was big on the shortening of words in its additions this year. Alongside sesh, it also added the slang term vacay, the abbreviated version of "vacation."
"Escape" and "room" have obviously been around for, well, centuries, but the conjoined phrase escape room was also added to Merriam-Webster in September 2019, thanks to its rising popularity. The term refers to a puzzle game where "participants confined to a room or other enclosed setting are given a set amount of time to find a way to escape."
Pursuing an entrepreneurial opportunity on your own? Then you're a solopreneur. This slang word blends the words "solo" and "entrepreneur" to describe someone starting a business by themselves, and was another new addition to Merriam-Webster in 2019.
In the age of social media influencers, it's extremely important to be on-brand. The word means anything that supports your public image or identity—think a fashion blogger posting their #OOTD (Outfit of the Day)—and was added to Merriam-Webster in 2019.