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8 popular phrases that easily reveal that you’re a millennial

(EDITORIAL) These 8 phrases are a part of culture right now and will probably be here for a hot minute – so the question is: are you a millennial?

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The millennial struggle is real

Inc.com just published a very helpful list of “8 Words That Totally Reveal You Are Not a Millennial” to help prevent business people born before the 80s from sounding “out of touch.” But besides making sure you don’t sound old-fashioned, you’ll also want to catch up on the slang words and phrases in common use by the millennial generation, especially if they are your coworkers or your customers.

Time to play catch up

Slang often originates in marginalized subcultures, like the LGBT community, and in black neighborhoods, then spreads throughout the wider lexicon. While some argue that it is appropriative to use such slang when you don’t belong to that particular culture, others say that to disparage such language ostracizes the people who invented it.

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So if one of your coworkers tells you your report was “on fleek,” instead of scolding them to use “proper” English, take a minute to educate yourself and keep in mind that your generation also made up its own unique words back in your day.

Without further ado, here are 8 popular phrases and words amongst millennials:

1. Feels

Feels is a catchall for strong or complex emotions.

Example: “Boss says we’re not getting a bonus this year. I have some feels about that.”

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2. Turnt/turnt up

Turnt or turnt up is the state of being in a festive mood, excited to party, and often, drunk.

Example: “Open bar at the office Christmas Party? We are gonna get so turnt up.”

3. I can’t even

Don’t get confused by I can’t even, which is used to express either approval or dissatisfaction, depending on the situation. It indicates being almost overwhelmed by how much you either love or hate something.

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Examples: “The new IT guy is such a babe, I can’t even.”
“I can’t even with those IT d-bags, they are sooo rude.”

4. Straight chillin

Straight chillin is hanging out and relaxing without any pressing obligations.

Example: “I’ll be straight chillin in the break room.”

5. TBH

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As you might imagine, a lot of slang from the generation who grow up with cell phones comes from convenient abbreviations used for texting. Such is the case with TBH, which is an abbreviation of “to be honest.”

Example: “TBH, I didn’t love her presentation.”

6. Basic

Basic is perhaps the most complicated word on this list. Probably the closest comparison would be the way an aristocratic person uses “common” to describe someone who is unworthy of their notice or who is unsophisticated. Like “common,” “basic” can also describe unrefined behavior. But basic is a little bit more specific. It’s a pejorative way to describe someone who has so few unique defining characteristics as to be totally boring, or who behaves stereotypically, exactly the way you would expect them to. Another comparison would be the way that the phrase “standard issue” described the mandatory necessities distributed to soldiers, then became a more generalized way to describe things that are… well, basic.

Example: “His résumé didn’t impress me. He seems totally basic.”

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7. Swag

Swag describes a person’s personal appearance, style, and the way they present themselves. It’s usually used to praise someone for looking good and carrying themselves with confidence.

Example: “Did you see the new receptionist? She’s got killer swag.”

8. The struggle is real

The struggle is real is phrase, like much slang, that was invented by drag queens, and in this case, was popularized by the show RuPaul’s Drag Race. “The struggle is real” is used to describe a challenging or frustrating situation, but one with relatively low stakes. For example, if your coworker tells you her grandmother is dying, it would not be appropriate to tell her the struggle is real. It’s used slightly ironically, acknowledging that there is, in fact, a problem, but that it’s a minor one in the big scheme of things. An alternate phrase with a similarly tongue-in-cheek connotation is “first world problems.”

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Example: “My report is due and the copier has a paper jam. The struggle is real.”
“I know, and the coffee machine is broken too. First world problems.”

Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

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  1. Pingback: Millennials… – Becky's Ramblings

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