40 Words People Over 40 Wouldn't Understand

As you age, it gets harder and harder to keep up with the latest slang.

circle

It's safe to say that a communication gap has existed between older and younger generations since the dawn of time. But it's also safe to say that that gap—what with the hyperdrive speed of Internet, the rise of smartphones and emojis, and the steady influx of new words on a daily (if not hourly) basis—has never been more profound. So if you're over 40 years old and it feels like the younger people around you are speaking in foreign tongues, fear not. We've assembled here all of the words you need to know. So read on, and never feel out of the loop again. And for words older folks would understand, check out You Know You're Over 40 If You Use These Words.

1
Lit

annoying guest dances at holiday party
Shutterstock

When something is especially awesome. Like: "This party is lit!" And for more terms that won't help you fit in with the younger generation, check out 50 Outdated Words That Instantly Age You.

2
Extra

woman turned off by rich man
Shutterstock

Just like with extra toppings on your ice cream or hot dog, "extra" is used to signify a person who's excessive, dramatic, or doing too much.

3
OTP

Older couple laughing together
iStock

An acronym that stands for "one true pairing." And for slang terms that that were invented when you may have been growing up, check out 25 Common Words That Didn't Exist Until the 1970s.

4
DMs

Instagram app open on smartphone
Shutterstock

As in, Can I slide into your DMs? The acronym stands for direct messages and refers either to Twitter or Instagram.

5
Tinder

tinder is something people under 40 say
Shutterstock

Yes, it's the name of the popular dating app. But some mean-spirited youngsters use it to refer to someone who is essentially "un-dateable." And for some fascinating history on the language you speak, check out The Amazing Origins of Everyday Slang Terms You Use Constantly.

6
Bumble

Bumble
natmac stock / Shutterstock.com

It's the least-creepy of dating apps. When two singles are connected on Bumble, it's up to the female to make the first move.

7
Finessing

woman working on laptop at home
iStock

Most often used as a verb, finessing implies that a person is doing really well or succeeding at what they do, at the best possible level. It's usually synonymous with similar phrases like "grinding," "on my grind," or "flexing." And for more helpful information delivered to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

8
Plug

plug is a phrase people under 40 use
Shutterstock

In today's world of constant promotion, plug has become a word with a slight tinge of annoyance. It means to self-promote oneself, one's merchandise, one's product, or one's business. And for the words that the youngsters in your life just won't get, check out Old Slang Terms Kids Born After 2000 Will Never Understand.

9
Keep it 100

keep it 100 is a phrase people under 40 use
Shutterstock

As in, one hundred percent. "Keep it 100" references telling the truth, not lying, and always "keeping it real."

10
Suh

Young people friends meeting in quarantine and greeting without touching their hands
iStock

Suh has become the latest shortening of the phrase "what's up?" Apparently some people find "sup?" too hard to say.

11
Trill

A group of four young men and women cheers beer bottles together with their face masks hanging off, making it easier to spread coronavirus
iStock

"Trill" is an amalgamation of the words "true" and "real," and is most often used in the hip-hop community to describe a person who is widely respected, honest, and successful.

12
V

v as in very is a phrase people under 40 use
Shutterstock

Why not break things down to solely a letter? "V" is an extremely lazy abbreviation of the word "very." To say someone is very pretty or very smart via text message, you would write "v pretty" or "v smart."

13
P

p as in pretty is a phrase people under 40 use
Shutterstock

P is the ultimate shortening of "pretty." To say you're pretty tired or pretty hungry via text message, you'd write "p tired" or "p hungry."

14
JOMO

Young woman enjoying a relaxing weekend at home laughing while on phone
iStock

A playful response to the all-time favorite FOMO (or the "fear of missing out"), JOMO indicates the "joy of missing out."

15
GOAT

michael Jordan is the GOAT
Shutterstock

GOAT is an acronym for "the greatest of all time," which is often used in the music industry, the hip-hop community, and the sports world.

16
Stan

stan is a term people under 40 use
Shutterstock

You can thank rapper Eminem for this one. In 2000, he released The Marshall Mathers LP, on which "Stan," a tune on which Eminem rapped about an extreme fan named Stan. Nowadays, Stan is used to describe an overly obsessed fan of a celebrity, or it can be even used as a verb as in: "You're obsessed and you're totally stanning Beyonce."

17
Salty

salty is a phrase people under 40 use
Shutterstock

You don't want to be described as a salty person. Salty is an adjective used to portray that a person is annoyed, upset, or acting like a sore loser.

18
Narrative

Woman walking away
Shutterstock

Taylor Swift popularized this one when she proclaimed in 2016 that she "would like to be excluded from this narrative, one that [she] never asked to be a part of," while publicly referencing her feud with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West. It is most often used in a similar format as Taylor did. Example:

Parent: You have to go to class.

Teenager: I'd like to be excluded from this narrative, one that I never asked to be a part of.

19
Trash

Woman on a bad date
Shutterstock

Trash refers to a person who is useless, lame, obsessed, and/or not worth your time.

20
D*mn, Gina!

Shutterstock

This was the catchphrase from Martin Lawrence's '90s sitcom Martin. It was reused as a punchline in Chance the Rapper's verse of Kanye West's song "Ultralight Beam," and then Kim and the rest of the Kardashian-Jenners started using it to really drive the point home.

21
Cancelled

young red-haired woman sitting in a cafe with friend and talking about something.
iStock

"Cancelled" refers to things that are dead, done, terminated, or withdrawn—not necessarily in a literal sense, but in a hyperbolic sense. You might encounter a sentence like, "Our friendship is so cancelled," if you overhear a fight between friends.

22
Woke

woke is a phrase people under 40 use
Shutterstock

This term refers to a person who is awakened or aware of what's going on in the world, whether it's a particular issue or idea. It usually describes those who are passionate about those goings-on and who talk freely about them.

23
Fleek

Stylish woman with bangs why having bangs
Shutterstock

This word usually refers to eyebrows ("brows on fleek") or nighttime outfits ("outfit on fleek"). It's an adjective used to describe something that is so good it's "on point." As in, when your eyebrows are waxed to perfection, they're on fleek.

24
Goals

Road trip
Shutterstock

"Goals" can be attributed to almost anything to reflect a person's ideal circumstance. "Couple goals" is used to describe ideal moments between a couple—like if a man buys his girlfriend 100 roses for Valentine's Day, that might be considered "couple goals"—while "body goals" is used to describe a person's ideal body, and "life goals" is used to describe someone tanning on a beach.

25
Ship

Two young women holding hands and walking in park
Kosim Shukurov/Shutterstock

We're no longer talking about a boat. The word "relationship" has been shortened to just "ship," in order to work as a verb that basically means you support two people who are together. Maybe you ship (or "approve of") two people dating because they're your favorite celebrity couple.

26
Tight

this guy is tight
Shutterstock

No, not as in: "My pants are so tight, they no longer fit," or "this cap is screwed on really tight." In Millennial parlance, "tight" is used to describe a person who is upset, mad, frustrated, or irate—especially if the person holds a grudge. If a date stands you up, you might be considered tight about it. If your boss embarrassed you in the office, you might be tight about it. If your friends call you out in front of your new girlfriend, you might be tight at them. (Note: This is a break from Generation X, which used "tight" to describe something cool, such as, "These new Jordans are tight!")

27
Pressed

woman on street in a frustrating phone conversation
Shutterstock

With two meanings, "pressed" can be a complex one to understand. It can mean both an adjective to describe someone who's stressed out and to describe someone who is overly obsessive. A guy might be "pressed" for a girl's attention if he's really into her, but another guy can be pressed about his English final tomorrow. Sorry if you're pressed while reading this.

28
FOMO

woman with face mask looking out her window
Shutterstock

FOMO is an acronym for the "fear of missing out." It describes the fear that other people are having fun than you are—without you.

29
Bae

Older couple at coffee shop
Shutterstock

It's the one you love "before anyone else."

30
Bey

Beyonce poses backstage at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at the Forum
Alamy

Yes, it's the first syllable of Beyoncé.

31
Ghosting

Ghost, girl, smart word, phone, mistakes
Shutterstock

Ghosting is the act of completely cutting off communication with someone without any rhyme, reason, or explanation. If he or she simply never answers your texts and phone calls after a date, congrats: You've been ghosted. Oh, and speaking of: Here are the 20 signs he's going to ghost you.

32
Ghostlighting

Woman unhappy on a date
Shutterstock

Ghostlighting is a hybrid of two concepts: "gaslighting" and "ghosting." It references the act of someone ghosting you—that is, ceasing all communication with you—and then coming back into your life, pretending that they never ghosted you and not giving an explanation.

33
Facts

three guys look at a laptop
Shutterstock

Uttered only when someone speaks the truth. As in, I only speak facts. Or what's that? Facts.

34
Slay

Confident woman taking a selfie
Shutterstock

Slay often describes someone who's been really successful at something. It's synonymous with "killed it." So if someone passes a test, you could say they slayed. If you're "slaying" that outfit, you look really good and you're working it.

35
RBF

man with a mean face
iStock

It is an acronym that refers to a person whose natural facial expression would appear unfriendly.

36
Belieber

Justin Bieber
Jack Fordyce/Shutterstock

The official name for a die-hard Justin Bieber fan.

37
Bromance

Male friends high-fiving at the bar
Shutterstock

Five words: Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

38
Bye Felicia

Friday quote
Image via New Line Cinema

Derived from the movie Friday, "bye Felicia" has become a term people use to dismiss someone who's annoying.

39
Snatched

Girls sharing cosmetics doing each other's makeup
Shutterstock

Often described to use makeup, "snatched" is synonymous with other phrases like "on fleek" or "on point." When a nose is perfectly contoured—slimmed down by makeup—it's "snatched." It is also used heavily in the gay community to compliment a fierce person, outfit, or look.

40
Sus

sus is a term people under 40 use
Shutterstock

It refers to anyone who is acting suspicious or suspect.

Filed Under
Best Life
Live smarter, look better,​ and live your life to the absolute fullest.
Get Our Newsletter Every Day!
Enter your email address to get the best tips and advice.
close modal
close modal
GET YOUR FREE GIFT
SUBSCRIBE