At Essentials, we like to think we have our finger on the pulse when it comes to fashion, beauty, easy recipes and the best ways to make your life easier.
When it comes to teenage slang, however, we’re pretty much in the dark. Or, more like The Dark Ages, if you ask Declan, 17, and his brother Codi, 20. The boys were kindly lent to us during a lunch break by their mother (our managing editor, Kirsten Davis), and they gave us quite an education on what kids these days are saying — and how to decipher it.
Read more: Do you know your WTFs from your FTWs? Take our quiz and see how many texting acronyms you understand
Although, to be honest, after they left we were all quite horrified as to how out of touch we all are (‘I don’t have a clue what my children are saying half the time,’ confessed Kirsten). And we’ll just leave out the fact that the Essentials team has a combined age of around 348.
So, in honour of Youth Day on 16 June, we think that you need to study the following teenage slang words, especially if you’re a parent.
Disclaimer: don’t actually insert them into casual conversation, lest your children roar with laughter and savagely mock you. Just quietly study them, ‘on the down low’ (i.e., surreptitiously), so that you can be better informed. Think of yourself as a covert CIA agent, and your child as a communist. Knowledge is power — use it, never abuse it.
Teenage slang words you need to know
Ratchet (n., adj., derog.) Someone (usually a woman) who is undesirable, devoid of sophistication and who makes an effort to be liked — but fails miserably because they’re just trying too hard; usually accompanied by crass, over-the-top behaviour, a terrible dress sense, a loud mouth, and ill-applied make-up. According to Declan, there are ‘levels to ratchet’.
Commonly used in the form of ‘she’s so ratchet’. Example: ‘You can’t go out wearing that outfit, young lady — you look ratchet.’
Basic (adj., n., derog.) Related to ratchet. Obscene, transparent, unsophisticated — it’s pretty much the new ‘not cool’. Also, according to Codi, when one tries to be something that one is not.
Example: ‘John streaked at the cricket match yesterday but security tackled him to the ground — it was so basic.’
Trap queen (n., derog.) An older woman who is having a relationship with a younger man, aka a cougar. Example: ‘Did you hear about Mary’s new boyfriend? Dennis is only 50, and she’s 62 — what a trap queen’.
Related: Ben 10 (n., derog.) A younger man who is with an older woman, aka a toyboy.
Woo shem (phrase) To express simultaneous surprise and a sense of pity.
Example: ‘I can’t believe Frank needs triple heart bypass surgery — woo shem, he’ll have to stop eating red meat.’
Netflix and chill (v., phrase) Watching a TV series with someone as a precursor (or pretense) to having intimate relations.
*Side note from Ang: I had heard this expression before, and I thought this phrase meant when two people literally sit together on the couch and watch their favourite TV series. How wrong I was; how innocent I am. Another note: If your children are ‘Netflix and chilling’ you may have a problem on your hands.
Need more teenage slang words? Have a look at Urban Dictionary, which is a veritable goldmine of pubescent colloquialisms (not for sensitive viewers, though).
Remember slang from your day? Share it with us in the comments (whether you’re in your thirties, forties, fifties or beyond), and let’s feel old and somewhat irrelevant together.