Strive Creative

July 6, 2023

OK, Boomers: Navigating the Lexicons of Gen Z

3 Minute Read

From etymology to linguistics to literature, language is a complex subject, and to some, a fascinating one. As Generation Z is making a name for itself in the world, and tbh their lexicons are also making an impact. 

A lexicon is the vocabulary of a person, language, or branch of knowledge. So this could be a dialect of a particular region, terminology used by a specific profession, or the slang used by a generation. 

As marketers who speak to the masses through their ads, it’s vital to understand how to communicate to all different types of audiences.

In order to stay relevant with the newest generation, we thought, what’s a better way to broaden our understanding of Generation Z than to sit down and learn their lexicon?

Term: Bussin

What Gen X thought it meant: “Mass transportation? Like you are riding a bus.” 

What it means to Gen Z: Used to describe something that is really good. Most often when talking about food.

Example: “Dude that late-night Taco Bell was bussin.”

Term: Cheugy 

What Gen X thought it meant: “Something that is cringy??”

What it means to Gen Z:  Something that is not trendy, or cringy; especially when done by a Millennial. 

Example: “Their house is so cheugy, covered in Rae Dunn decor.” 

Term: That’s cap/capping /no cap

What Gen X thought it meant: “Short for capital, so something that is good.”

What it means to Gen Z: To lie

Example: “Bro that’s cap.” “No way that’s real, you’re capping.” “No cap, that really happened?”

Term: Get that Dub

What Gen X thought it meant: “Dub? What’s dub? To me, that’s a burrito with potatoes.” (Those from the Lansing area understand this connection.) 

What it means to Gen Z: Dub means W, and W means Win. A phrase of encouragement

Example: “They put Larkin in the lineup tonight, we are definitely gonna get that dub!”

Term: Tea / Sipping the tea/ Spilling the Tea

What Gen X thought it meant: “Is it the same thing as saying “bull in the china shop”? Like you are trying to be dainty but you’re not.” 

What it means to Gen Z: The act of discussing or listening to gossip. 

Example: “Spill the tea about your date last night!” “Did you hear that Michael dumped Sierra? Tea!” 

Term: High-Key

What Gen X thought it meant: “Is it like low-key? I’ve never heard it used but I understand it.”

What it means to Gen Z: The opposite of lowkey. Having something out in the open or being intense.

Example: “I am high-key excited about that new Marvel movie.”

Term: Salty

How Gen Z used it: “Being sassy.” 

What it means to Gen Z:  Annoyed or upset, especially when it is unreasonable or if you have been slighted. 

Example: “Dude I am so salty that my boss scheduled me this weekend.” 

Term: Square up

How Gen Z used it: “To get even with another person.” 

What it means to Gen Z: In a literal sense is to get into a fighting position but can also mean to begin to argue or compete with someone. 

Example: “I’m about to square up with Amazon if my package doesn’t come on time.” 

While this was all fun and games, there was a bigger meaning behind this exercise. 

Advertisers today have to be more conscious than ever of the language they use in order to appeal to their target market. There is nothing worse than brands trying to be cool and hip, and failing at it. An effective advertisement will speak to your audience rather than speaking at them. 

Being able to empathize and connect through lexicons can help you communicate across generations. Marketers can utilize this understanding to better bridge the communication gap between them and their audiences. By taking the time to get to know your audience, you’ll be able to create more meaningful connections with them – and create relevant ads that truly connect and resonate with people.