40 Gen Z terms and phrases you need to know for your marketing (and how to use them)

Feb 23, 2024

As social media managers and marketers, it's crucial for us to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and language used by Gen Z.

This generation, born between the late 1990s and early 2010s, has its own unique way of communicating.

To effectively connect with Gen Z consumers, it's essential to understand their lingo and incorporate it into our marketing strategies.

In this article, we'll explore 30 Gen Z terms and phrases that you need to know and how to use them to enhance your brand's reach and engagement.

But be careful. You don't want to come off as a "try-hard" or "poser" as millennials would say.

I'll give you some tips on how to avoid this further in the article.

Understanding the Gen Z Lingo

Gen Z, the generation born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, has developed its own language that sets them apart from previous generations.

This linguistic shift is driven by various factors, including the rise of social media, the influence of memes, and the constant exposure to pop culture references.

To effectively communicate with Gen Z, it is essential to immerse ourselves in their world and understand their preferred vernacular.

Gen Z's unique language is more than just a collection of slang terms and phrases; it is a reflection of their values, experiences, and sense of identity.

By understanding and embracing their language, we can better connect with this demographic and tailor our marketing efforts to resonate with them.

The Importance of Gen Z Terminology in Marketing

Using Gen Z terminology in our marketing efforts allows us to go beyond surface-level engagement and establish a genuine connection with our target audience.

It shows that we not only understand their language but also embrace their culture and values.

By incorporating Gen Z terms into our campaigns, we can create a sense of authenticity and relatability, leading to stronger brand loyalty and increased engagement.

Moreover, Gen Z terminology has become a powerful tool for brands to stay relevant and stay ahead of the competition. As this generation continues to shape the cultural landscape, their language evolves rapidly.

By staying up-to-date with the latest Gen Z lingo, marketers can adapt their strategies to match the ever-changing preferences of this demographic.

Decoding the Gen Z Language

The Gen Z language is a dynamic mix of new terms and unique expressions that have emerged from their online interactions and real-life experiences.

Familiarizing ourselves with these words is crucial to effectively integrate them into our marketing strategies and connect with Gen Z on a deeper level.

Here are some key Gen Z terms you should know:

  • Savage: Used to describe something or someone as cool, fierce, or exceptionally impressive. This term originated from hip-hop culture and has gained popularity among Gen Z as a way to express admiration or respect.
  • FOMO: An acronym for "fear of missing out." It refers to the anxiety or unease that arises from the fear of not being present for an exciting or enjoyable event. Gen Z often experiences FOMO due to their constant exposure to social media, where they see their peers engaging in various activities.
  • Ship: Short for "relationship," it refers to the desire for two people to be in a romantic relationship or the endorsement of a potential couple by fans. This term originated from fan culture, where fans express their support for a romantic pairing between two individuals, whether fictional or real.
  • Flex: To show off or boast about one's achievements, possessions, or skills in a proud or exaggerated manner. Gen Z often uses this term to celebrate personal accomplishments or to display confidence in their abilities.
  • Glow-up: A significant positive transformation, typically referring to someone's physical appearance or overall growth. This term is often used to describe someone who has undergone a noticeable change, whether it be through a new hairstyle, improved fashion sense, or personal development.

These are just a few examples of the Gen Z lingo that has become an integral part of their everyday conversations.

By incorporating these terms into our marketing materials, we can speak their language and establish a genuine connection with this influential demographic.

A Comprehensive List of Gen Z Terms and Phrases

While the language is constantly evolving, here are some popular Gen Z terms and phrases regularly used by this generation:

  • Tea: Referring to gossip or interesting information.
  • No cap: A phrase meaning "no lie" or "truth." It emphasizes honesty and authenticity.
  • Vibe: Describing a good or positive atmosphere. It can also refer to the overall aesthetic or energy of a person, place, or thing.
  • Clout: Social influence or popularity, often associated with having a significant following on social media.
  • Low-key: To describe doing something in a subtle or discreet manner, without drawing attention.
  • Stan: A portmanteau of 'stalker' and 'fan,' used to describe someone who is an extremely devoted and enthusiastic fan of a particular person, group, or thing.
  • Snack: Describing someone who looks extremely attractive or appealing. It's a playful way to compliment someone's appearance.
  • Salty: Feeling upset, angry, or bitter, typically as a result of being made fun of or embarrassed. It's used to describe someone who seems overly sensitive or annoyed.
  • Ghosting: The act of suddenly cutting off all communication without explanation. It's often used in the context of dating or online interactions.
  • It's giving: Used to describe the vibe or essence of something. It's like saying, "This gives off the feeling of…" or "This reminds me of…"
  • No bae: Means "no problem" or "don't worry about it." It's a casual way to dismiss concerns or reassure someone.
  • Cheugy: Refers to something that is unfashionably outdated or trying too hard, especially things that were once popular but are now seen as uncool.
  • Sus: Short for "suspicious." Used to describe something or someone that seems untrustworthy or dubious.
  • I'm dead: An expression used when finding something extremely funny. It's like saying, "That's so hilarious, I can't even handle it."
  • Bet: A term that indicates agreement or acknowledgment. Similar to saying "okay" or "sure."
  • Sksksk: An expression of amusement, laughter, or awkwardness. It's often associated with the VSCO girl aesthetic.
  • Yeet: A versatile word that can be used as an exclamation of excitement, approval, or to denote throwing something with force.
  • Hits different: Used to describe when something has a unique or particularly impactful quality. It's like saying, "This stands out or affects me in a unique way."
  • Periodt: A more emphatic way of saying "period," used at the end of a statement to signify that it is final or non-negotiable.

These are just a few examples, but the Gen Z lexicon goes far beyond these terms. Take the time to explore and understand the language used by this influential generation to effectively engage with them.

Popular Gen Z Slang

Gen Z slang is constantly evolving, but there are some phrases that have gained popularity over time. Here are a few notable ones:

  • Yas: An expression of excitement, agreement, or enthusiasm.
  • Finsta: A combination of "fake" and "Instagram," it refers to a private Instagram account where users share more personal and authentic content.
  • Woke: Being socially aware, informed, and conscious of various issues, particularly those related to social justice and equality.
  • Extra: Describing someone who goes above and beyond or exhibits exaggerated behavior.
  • Slay: To perform exceptionally well or look amazing.

Gen Z Internet and Social Media Terms

The internet and social media play a central role in the lives of Gen Z. They have developed their own vocabulary when it comes to these digital platforms. Here are some commonly used terms:

  • LOL: An acronym for "laugh out loud," used to indicate amusement or laughter.
  • OMG: An expression of surprise or astonishment, short for "oh my god."
  • TL;DR: Stands for "too long; didn't read," indicating that the content is too lengthy or boring to read.
  • Meme: A humorous image, video, or text that spreads rapidly across the internet, often with variations or remixes.
  • DM: Acronym for "direct message," referring to a private or personal message sent on social media.

Incorporating Gen Z Language into Your Marketing Strategy

Now that we have familiarized ourselves with key Gen Z terms, it's essential to integrate them into our marketing strategy. Authentically incorporating Gen Z language can help us establish a stronger connection with this demographic.

Here are some tips to get started:

Aligning Your Brand Voice with Gen Z Slang

Take the time to understand and embrace Gen Z's preferred language.

Study their conversations on social media platforms and observe how they interact with popular culture.

Use this knowledge to align your brand voice with the Gen Z slang that resonates with your target audience.

However, it's important to avoid using slang in a forced or inauthentic manner. Be genuine and don't try too hard.

Using Gen Z Terms in Social Media Marketing

Gen Z's primary communication channels are social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat. Incorporate relevant Gen Z terms and expressions when creating social media content.

This will help you connect with your audience on a personal level and increase engagement.

However, remember to use slang sparingly and strategically, ensuring that it aligns with your brand identity and values.

Potential Pitfalls to Avoid When Using Gen Z Language

While incorporating Gen Z terminology into your marketing can be beneficial, it's crucial to navigate this territory carefully.

As with any language, there are potential pitfalls to avoid:

Avoiding Cultural Appropriation and Misuse

Respect and appreciate the origins and cultural significance of certain terms or expressions.

Avoid appropriating slang or using it inappropriately.

Be mindful of the potential impact your marketing efforts may have on different communities and cultures. Cultural sensitivity is key to maintaining a positive brand image.

Ensuring Authenticity in Your Communication

While it's important to embrace Gen Z lingo, staying true to your brand voice is equally crucial.

Don't sacrifice authenticity for the sake of appealing to a younger audience.

Stay consistent with your values and message.

Find the right balance between connecting with Gen Z and maintaining your brand's identity.

Measuring the Impact of Using Gen Z Terms in Your Marketing

It's essential to measure the impact of incorporating Gen Z terms and phrases into your marketing strategies.

By tracking engagement and response, you can gain insights into whether your Gen Z-focused language resonates with your target audience.

Here are some strategies to measure its effectiveness:

Tracking Engagement and Response

Use analytics tools to monitor the engagement and response to your Gen Z-focused content.

Pay attention to metrics such as likes, comments, and shares.

This data will help you identify which terms and phrases generate the most interest and interaction.

Adjusting Your Strategy Based on Feedback

Listen to your audience's feedback and adapt your strategy accordingly.

Take note of the terms and phrases that resonate the most and those that may not have the desired impact.

Continuously refine and evolve your marketing approach to better connect with Gen Z.

In conclusion, understanding and incorporating Gen Z terms and phrases into your marketing strategy is crucial for effectively engaging with this influential demographic.

By immersing ourselves in their language and culture, and aligning our brand voice accordingly, we can establish a meaningful connection and elevate our marketing efforts to new heights.

Embrace the Gen Z language, be authentic, and continuously measure and adapt your strategy.

It's time to speak the language of the future and revolutionize your marketing campaigns.

Aisha Jones