Courtesy Flickr. 

As 2020 approaches, it’s important to prepare ourselves to enter a new decade full of vocabulary undoubtedly fueled by social media and internet meme culture. Although some words and phrases might stick around long enough to make an appearance in 2020 and beyond, there are many that may not be heard until years in the future when movies are made about the 2010s.  

To reminisce on the popular slang of the past 10 years, The Red & Black has compiled a list of some of the top “buzzwords” of the 2010s.


It’s time to “spill the tea” on the term tea. Tea is a noun used to describe the latest gossip on someone or something. Found all over Twitter, the term tea has been widely popularized due to its use of describing scandals within pop culture. However, the term can be used when talking or hearing about someone you personally know as well. “The term derives from ’80s and ’90s ball culture where LGBTQ people performed in drag competitions,” according to an article by The Oprah Magazine


Have you ever had someone in your life unexpectedly disappear almost as if they were a ghost? This is where the meaning behind the popular term “ghosting” comes from as it describes a time in which a person cuts off all communication with others with zero warning. In an age where face-to-face contact has been diminished by social media, it’s no wonder that term such as “ghosting” has become so normalized.


“Lit” is a buzzword that has evolved since its emergence at the beginning of the decade. The word originated as a slang term for being drunk, according to an article by Insider. Although this definition of the word is still relevant, the term has taken on a new meaning of describing something that is amazing or exciting. The word “lit” is a pretty universal word that can be used to describe all sorts of events, people and behaviors which makes it one of the most wide-spread buzzwords of the past decade. 


This is yet another buzzword with multiple meanings. The term “bae” has been used to describe a romantic partner. Although initially thought to be a variation of the word babe or baby the term actually stems from African-American vernacular English, according to an article by The Oprah Magazine. As the word became popular on social media, some interpreted it to be an acronym of the words “before anyone else” which coincides with the idea that the term is used as a nickname for one’s significant other. 


Shook is a way to describe one’s feeling of shock or fear. On social media, users of the word often are “shook” when their favorite musical artists drop new content or when they see a movie with a huge plot twist. The term originally became popular in the 1990s when used in hip-hop music, according to an article by Insider.


Living in an age of an ever-changing and at times hazardous political climate, many consider it valuable to be in the know with the relevant changes happening within society. This is where the term “woke” enters the equation as it's a modern way of describing someone who is conscious of important news happening throughout the world, especially political headlines and issues. 


Have you ever felt a small sense of pride after completing tasks such as doing your laundry or booking a doctor's appointment? This sensation is known as “adulting.” Urban dictionary defines adulting as verb meaning “to carry out one more of the duties and responsibilities expected of fully developed individuals; especially used by those who adult less than 50% of the time.” The idea of adulting has become especially applicable to millennials and Generation Z as they’re hitting major life milestones at a slower time than past generations, according to an article by Insider


Shade is a word used to describe an insult or judgement delivered in a casual and subtle manner. If one is ‘being shady,’ that individual may be acting sneaky or suspicious towards others. “The term originated in the African American and LGBTQ communities of the 1980s,” according to an article by Insider. It first grabbed people’s attention in the 1990 film “Paris is Burning” when a character used the term to indirectly call another character ugly. Shade has an especially heavy presence on Twitter as users can indirectly address others in what are known as “subtweets.”


Thirsty is a way to describe someone when they’re acting desperate or eager. Examples of things desired by “thirsty” individuals could range from admiration, attention, validation and any other form of approval. A common variation of the word is the term known as ‘thirst trap’ which could come in the form of someone posting a revealing or very “out-there” photo on social media in an effort to gain approval from their followers.


To flex means to show off or brag, typically in a not humble or unsubtle way. However, the term can have multiple connotations when it comes to flexing on others. For example, one could flex on someone by showing their talents and capabilities. In a more materialistic sense, one could flex on someone by showing off wealthy possessions such as designer items or expensive cars. Another common way to use the buzzword is to say, “Weird flex but OK.” This is a way of addressing someone who is showing off someone or something that is not worth boasting about.

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