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The Senior Guide to Millennial Lingo

Julyne Derrick
By Julyne DerrickNovember 17, 2017

As the holidays approach, baby boomers may find themselves at family functions with millennials. Millennials – especially the youngest members of the generation – use phrases in conversation, social media and text that can sound like a foreign language to everyone else.

Read our senior guide to Millennial lingo, featuring the definitions of some of the top millennial slang words and how to use them in conversation, just in case you get an opportunity to throw one in.

The Senior Guide to Millennial Lingo

The setting: Here you are at Thanksgiving or Christmas out in the suburbs in a giant house that your children own, when the grandchildren arrive.

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Grandboy, early 20s, breezes in carrying a bag full of specialty items from his city’s trendiest neighborhoods: honey made by bees that feast only on elderflowers, gluten-free beer, something labeled “chia pudding.”

One-armed hugs are given all around. Grandboy has a thick beard and wears a knit hat and a bright red plaid flannel shirt. He looks like he should be out chopping wood.

Grandgirl, a college sophomore, arrives with hair so long it reminds you of what’s her name? Crystal Gayle. She is wearing high-waisted bell bottoms like ones you wore in the 70s. She brings with her an entourage of college friends who look just like her. She whips out her smartphone and starts taking photos of the well-laid table. “Pinterest,” your daughter leans over and whispers to you.

Grandgirl’s friend explains to the room that Grandgirl now has “80,300 followers on Instagram.”

Unlike last year, this year you know what all of this means, the chia pudding, the Instagram, the Pinterest. You quietly swirl the ice in your glass of pinot grigio and take everything in. It’s like watching Shakespeare and understanding every single word.

You have come to this family gathering prepared. You have studied up. You are determined to make it through this celebratory meal without having to lean over to ask someone to translate. That was last year. This is a new year and you plan to participate, surprising the young people.

We’ve written your cheat sheet, featuring Millennial lingo, their definitions and how to use them in conversation:

1. Bae

A cutesy reference to one’s significant other. As in, “How’s your bae and will we see him at Christmas?”

2. Basic

Lacking any interesting characteristics. As in, “She’s great, but her husband? Basic.”

3. Catfish

To be wooed online by someone pretending to be someone else. As in, “My widow friend tried online dating and wasted 3 months corresponding with a charming man she never met. He turned out to be a catfish.”

4. Conversation walling

When you’re trying to text or talk to someone and they give you one word responses. As in, “You’re conversation walling again. Hit me up when you’re ready to talk.”

5. Ghosted

When someone you’re dating simply disappears without a reason or a goodbye. As in, “Did I ever tell you about the time I was ghosted by the guy I dated before I married your grandpa?”

6. JK

Short for just kidding. As in, “Well, that was a terrible dessert. JK!”


Like “FOMO,” or the fear of missing out, this is an acronym for joy of missing out. Used to show you’re cool with not joining in on a trend. As in, “I’m not on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Because, JOMO!”

8. Let’s Bounce

This means it’s time to go. As in, “That was fun but it’s past my bedtime. Let’s bounce.”

9. Lit

To be popular, hot, on fire. As in, “That new album by Taylor Swift is lit.”

10. Mean-tweet

When someone tweets something cruel and demeaning about a person, usually a celebrity. As in, “Anyone catch JLaw reading her mean tweets on Jimmy Kimmel last night?”

11. Meta

Self-referential, especially in art. As in, “My book group is reading a novel about a novelist writing a novel. It’s so meta.”

12. Obvi

Short for obviously, typically used in texting. As in, “Hey Grams, did you enjoy your meal?” “Obvi.”

13. On fleek

To adopt a trend and to do so with perfection. As in, “My goodness, your eyelashes are on fleek. Where do you have them done?”

14. Phubbing

To snub someone(s) in favor of a smartphone. As in, “Grandboy must find our conversation boring because he’s been phubbing us the entire dinner.”

15. Sorry not sorry

A passive-aggressive way of showing you really meant the offensive thing you just said. As in, “Bell bottoms. Not attractive then. Not attractive now. Sorry not sorry.”

16. Spilling tea

Give me the gossip. As in, “Okay, spill the tea.”

17. The struggle is real

An ironic response when people are complaining about lame things. As in, “I jumped in the pool with my iPhone. I need a new one, but mom won’t buy me one.” “The struggle is real. The struggle is real.”

18. Thirsty

Someone who’s desperate for attention. As in, “Whenever I see someone taking a selfie, I can’t help but think, ‘thirsty much’?”

19. Woke

Being aware of important current affairs. As in, “You’re all read up on tax reform. That’s woke.”

20. YOLO

An acronym for you only live once. As in, “I think it’s a smart idea to take a year-long sabbatical from work or a gap year after high school. After all, YOLO.”

Do you know any other Millennial lingo that you think should be added to this list? We’d like to hear your additions in the comments below.

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Julyne Derrick
Julyne Derrick
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