The Gen Z Dictionary: A Crash Course

The Gen Z dictionary wasn’t written into their curriculum at school, and they definitely didn’t learn it from their parents. What’s up with this Gen Z vocabulary, and what does it all mean? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

This a crash course on some of the quirky terms that Gen Z uses on social media, in texts, and even in face-to-face conversation. By the end of this blog, you’ll be nearly fluent in the Gen Z vocabulary that they know and love, and you might even catch on to a few their inside jokes.

1. VSCO Girl (noun) — a girl who wears scrunchies, oversized t-shirts, and Crocs. She is also known for drinking from a Hydroflask to “save the turtles! Sksksk!”

Ashley Nocera 🦄 on TikTok

Ashley Nocera 🦄(@ashleynocera) has created a short video on TikTok with music original sound. Do you have a hydro flask? #andioop #vsco #vscogirl #sksksk #fyp #vscocheck #lipgloss

This term stems from app VSCO. It was originally intended for photographers to edit and showcase their work. However, it quickly transitioned to a place for Gen Z and young millennials to post their more natural photos. You know, the ones that wouldn’t pass a vibe check (see definition #4) on Instagram. 

By posting more candid, natural photos, a distinct style became prevalent on the app’s feed. The feed quickly became saturated with photos of girls in a laid-back outfit holding their sticker-covered reusable water bottles. Thus, the Gen Z vocabulary word, VSCO Girl, was coined.

2. eBoy/eGirl (noun) — a person who has a goth style. He or she can be found having dark or dyed hair, piercings, wearing black clothing, and wearing dark makeup

James Charles on TikTok

James Charles(@jamescharles) has created a short video on TikTok with music Asshole. quitting makeup to become a full time e-boy 😈 thanks @noeneubanks for transforming me lol #eboy #bestcostume #fyp

eBoys and eGirls emerged on social media towards the end of 2019. They are usually gamers who dress in an emo or goth fashion. In a way, they are the inverse of an Instagram influencer.

eBoys became popular on TikTok. Specifically, TikTok users, including the ever-popular James Charles, have been transforming themselves into eBoys on video. The stark difference in the person’s two looks keeps viewers watching and inspiring them to try it for themselves.

3. Iykyk (acronym) — short for “If you know, you know.” This acronym is commonly used as a hashtag, and it indicates an inside joke, gossip, or stirring the pot.

Basically, this acronym is the text version of the eyeball emoji 👀. It indicates that the given tweet, snapchat, caption, etc. should be read with a rather saucy tone. It often implies an inside joke or that only people on the “in” will understand the reference. This is a Gen Z vocabulary word that is gaining traction as we speak, so stay on the lookout for it on social media.

4. Vibe check (noun) — a spontaneous check-in on someone to see how they’re doing. It’s usually during a fun experience.
Alternate definition — a warning before hitting or decking your friend after they say something dumb.

david on TikTok

david (@david_okay) has created a short video on TikTok with music wow this got popular. This is probably how you pay at urban outfitters #fyp #foryou #vibecheck

Clearly, this term has a decently wide range of flexibility in its definition. All in all, a vibe check is really just a way to check in on your friends, and the person performing the vibe check can be a gentle or violent as they wish.

To millennial-aged people and older, this Gen Z vocabulary word may seem a little weird. Especially since asking “hey, how’s it going,” is a pretty easy thing to do. But iykyk.

5. Flex (verb) — showing off something you are good at or something that you have done well.

This term can also be used in a lot of situations. Most commonly, it’s used as a hashtag that accompanies a video, photo, or text on Twitter. It can be used in a serious manner. For example, someone is flexing when they share a video of them making a trick shot on the basketball court.

To no one’s surprise, it can also be (and is most commonly) used in a sarcastic/joking manner. For example, if someone drops their fork but catches it at the last second, they can say “sorry to flex on y’all like that.”

Brands that “get it”

So, what does Gen Z vocabulary have to do with you and your brand? Well, Gen Z wants to interact with and support brands that “get it.” In an article by CNBC, members of Gen Z discuss what they want from brands and they’re looking for brands that integrate with their culture. 

You can’t just tell your Gen Z audience that you speak their language. If you do, they’ll say “weird flex, but okay,” and move on. In order for your brand to be viewed this way, you need to strategically communicate with your Gen Z audience members.

Implementing some of Gen Z’s lingo into your marketing, especially with native media, can increase your brand’s ability to make mass impressions. This can greatly improve your ability to reach your Gen Z audience members.

We are here to help

Now that you’ve got the lingo down, Scout Social can help your brand reach Gen Z. We are here to help you meet your marketing and advertising goals. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.

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