Hi, this is Jason here. If you’re joining us in this blog series about youth expressions, you’re totally hardcore! I’ll be sharing expressions (mainly slang) that are used and created by Americans (aged 12-25).
I’m going to show you what’s currently happening in America in order to keep you updated, help you see its relevance, and lastly, make you a better and informed English user.
To this end, let me introduce today’s entry, along with a preview of the next two entries.
These entries will be about slang with original meanings, like frenemy or bromance. Or updated expressions, such as “What’s trending?” which is a more modern version of the slightly older expression, “What’s cool these days?” or “What’s happening?” Lastly, this will be followed by a list of oldies but goodies, meaning a list of slang that have stood the test of time, such as dude, bro, psyched, legit, or rad.
Here are three categories:
Category 1: New/Original Expressions — This list contains expressions invented by young people, who create them as they see changes in American society.
Category 2: Updated Expressions — This list will be about newer forms of older slang or dictionary words. Since there is already an existing way to communicate these ideas, these words are the most vulnerable to change. They may evolve again very soon. Or they may disappear, with the older version returning to popular use.
Category 3: Old but Still Common Expressions — This list will also be about expressions made by youths for youths, but, with one difference: these were made in the past by people who are now older. Because these are expressions which have survived, they are unlikely to disappear anytime soon, since the people from past generations are still teaching them to today’s kids.
Frenemy — a person who is a friend and an enemy. It is used to describe a relationship that has both a friend and enemy component in it. Sometimes it is used to describe a person who pretends to be a friend but is secretly planning to become the enemy in the future. Also, it is often used when the nature of the relationship requires both cooperation and competition. Loosely speaking, it might be similar to the word “rival.” However, the dictionary meaning of “rival” neither means “friend” nor “enemy” exactly. A frenemy relationship is often thought of as a complicated, love-hate relationship.
- Whoa, she’s so much better than me at everything! I can totally see ourselves becoming frenemies.
- You know what? I think your friend Jessica is really a frenemy in disguise. You should watch out.
Bromance — two male bros who are deeply bonded; best friends who are male. In past American culture, it was considered less appropriate for some men to share their emotions with other men. But recently, society has been encouraging men to be more open about their emotions.
- Wow, those guys have a true bromance. I wish I could talk about my feelings with my bros.
Brangelina — It was the media that originally combined the names of famous couples into a one-word name. (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie would be a modern example). But now teenagers and young adults are doing it often! They name-mesh couples that they know. Usually, this is done in a creative, fun way.
- “Evan + Bay = Ebay.” Or “Trent + Elaine = Traine.” Or “Brandon + Linda= Blinda.”
Nerd/Geek — two words that now have good meanings (especially in the last 2-5 years)! Referring to yourself or others as a nerd or a geek now has a positive connotation. There’s nothing else in dictionary like it! About 10 years ago, in the fight against bullying, parents and teachers tried to popularize words like “Einstein” or “Brainiac” to describe children who were nerdy. Thanks to the likes of people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerburg, having a love for things such as computers or books is “cool.” American kids decided, for themselves, to change the meaning into a good meaning, showing us that sometimes adults may not be able to force kids to use words that they chose for them. “Brainiac” was only popular for a short time, and it has been already phased out and replaced by this updated meaning of “nerd.”
A: Sorry, I’m a bit of a geek. I’m into nerdy things.
B: No, I think you’re totally cool for loving those things.
Metrosexual (coming from “metropolitan” and “heterosexual”) — a man with a strong sense of urban style (mainly fashion and image). Since words like chic, voguish, elegant are commonly associated with women, this is a good adjective for describing men or things associated with men’s style. Basically, this reflects upon changing attitudes towards masculinity. In its early use, it was used to describe David Beckham, Brad Pitt and Ryan Seacrest.
- I think I aspire to be more of a metrosexual. I have a lot of ideas about men’s style.
Tween — a preteen who is prematurely interested in and/or already doing teenage-type things. It is also used as a marketing demographic of ages 8-12. This use is slightly different in context from the original dictionary meaning, implying that tweens are already doing things that teenagers are often doing.
- I can’t believe what those tweens are wearing! (In reference to tweens wearing teenage clothes)
“Meh.” — a reaction that shows indifference or apathy. While this might seem a lot like saying “I don’t care” or “I’m neutral on this,” this usage is far more specifically used by those who are feeling empty on emotion.
A: Want to get some dinner?
“Jealous much?” (comes from “Are you jealous?”) — an expression used to try to get someone to become more jealous. In a way, it’s more like saying “You should be jealous!” Some other incarnations are “You jealous?” or “U Jelly?” (spelled with a capital “U” and “J”)
- Look at my new car! Jealous much?
BFF — a somewhat sarcastic spin on the meaning of “friendship,” especially high-school friendships, which are known to be anything but ever-lasting (at least in American culture). It stands for “best friends forever.” This expression is ironically developed in an era when the nature of modern friendships has become more instant, fast-paced, and short-lived than ever before. Long-term or true friends do not generally use this phrase to describe their friendship unless they say something specific about the length or quality of their friendship, like “We’ve been bffs since we were in kindergarten.”
A: We totally became bffs last night.
B: What? Suddenly, you’ve become bffs?
- Meet my new bff, Shauna. She moved here last week.
Recessionista — a girl on a budget who is good at finding deals on stylish items or knows how to look fashionable using cheap items. (This is quite different from “frugal” or “smart-shopper” because it indicates that Americans don’t want a loss in their standard of living. Even if they don’t have money, they won’t want to give up on luxuries like fashion.)
A: Wow, her clothes are great! Did she lose her job?
B: Yeah, she did, but she’s quite the recessionista!
Photobomb — a verb that means: to get into the background of another person’s photo without his/her knowledge. Due to the nearly unlimited number of shots one can get from cell phones and digital cameras, some victims might find this act humorous, as it does not really hurt them in any real way. But it depends on how the photobomber does it. I wouldn’t recommend any of our readers to try it though!
- Let’s photobomb their shot. They will get a laugh later!
“Epic fail!” — an expression said when someone totally fails in a case where success should have been rather easy to attain. Or it is used when someone has completely failed in a very ironic way.
- Hey, that boy just misspelled “smart” during the spelling contest! Epic fail! (The point of participating in a spelling contest is to show that you are smart, hence the irony.)
Bridezilla — a bride who is obsessed about the details of her wedding (“bride” + “Godzilla”). This phenomenon may reflect upon the high amount of happily-ever-after stories that American girls hear as they grow up. Later in life, many women feel they have a right to have the “perfect wedding.”
- Uh-oh, Bridezilla is coming! Don’t tell her that the band for her wedding has cancelled. She’ll go crazy!
Viral — used to describe something that is quickly becoming wide-spread and popular on the Internet. “Gone viral” and “viral marketing” are some of the expressions we have made with it.
- Wow, my video has gone viral already! (video = a video clip uploaded to a streaming service)
Thanks for reading! I hope this list of handpicked expressions will help you become more familiar with what’s trending in American English these days! And if nothing else, I hope the culturally-specific concepts were interesting for you. Stay tuned for Category 2, coming soon!
Idioms/Other Expressions used in this blog
・peeps — people (updated version of “guys,” “friends”)
・hardcore — serious (as in a serious learner)
・stand the test of time — to be long-lasting; to survive
・oldies but goodies — something that is good despite being old
・bros — male friends (most common expression used by American male friends these days)
・name-mesh — to combine names into one word (also known as “name-meshing”)
・happily-ever-after — the idea that one day you will find your perfect mate and then live happily forever
・Stay tuned! — an expression that means “Keep watching this TV program!” (but in this case, “Keep reading!”)
【プロフィール】Jason Andrew Chau（ジェイソン・アンドリュー・チャウ）
アメリカのテキサス出身。ＵＣバークレーで心理学と人類学を学ぶ。これまで、日本の英語教育に10年以上かかわる中、『仕事の英語 緊急対策マニュアル 電話・メール編』『英会話リズムメソッド』『中学 定期テストの対策ワーク』（旺文社）等英文校正に携わる。また、レベルにあった英会話教授法も熟知している。