The Gen Z Rosetta Stone

February 12, 2019 — by Mathew Luo

We are changing the English language, and it is glorious. Standing on the shoulders of Shakespeare’s sonnets and Milton’s epics, on Steinbeck’s stories and Orwell’s essays is the new teenage lingo, language that’s concise, powerful and descriptive, yet beautiful too.

Think of a thesaurus. What words could replace your colloquial, mundane terms and expletives — large, cool, ouch, shoot — and transform you into a dank, LIT AF, trash-talking memelord, hypebeast U B E R F L E X E R?

Big is the new large. Big is cool. Big is lit. Big is the dankest adverb. Big is not a traditional adjective, but an intensifier to signify the biggest things: Stephen Hawking’s big brain made him big smart; little Jimmy’s report card made him big dumb; big Tyler’s brown YEEZYs made him a big loser.

To properly incorporate “big” into your lexicon, be especially conscious of your usage of adverbs. Where words like “very,” “extremely” and “greatly” might have sufficed, “big” knocks them all out of the water with its conciseness, power and avante-garde quality.

Big brain, right?

Lit is the new dank, and dank was the new cool. But there are subtleties to catch between the two — for instance, memes can be either dank or lit, but there are only dank memes. Lit describes situations, not places, things or people.

A pizza party in history class? That’s pretty lit. Little Brooker’s giving out donuts to all his friends? That’s pretty lit. Elon Musk’s funding “Despacito 2”? Well, that’s B-I-G-L-I-T, ‘cause he’s my role model.

OOF is a new invention. It’s for those situations that really OOF you, those times where you really be feeling bad about something that happened to someone, but you lack the vocabulary or desire to properly express yourself and say anything meaningful.

OOF is the reaction to your report card. An SAT score. A rejection. The schadenfreude that comes with reading reddit.


Flexing is all about how big you can show off. For example, little Billy is flexing on the peasants when he complains about his precurve B+ on his AP physics test. Billy probably smirks, too, when he surreptitiously glances over his shoulder to see Bert’s score. What a loser.

Sometimes someone can flex, but flex weird. Then you go, “weird flex, but okay” and that’s that. A weird flex is telling your friends you studied for APUSH on time, or that you completed your math homework without copying from the answer key or that you can spin your pencil around your thumb a hundred times without dropping your thumb once.

That’s a weird flex. BUT FLEXING WE DO.

The list goes on. Ufts. Lowkey. Thicc. BIG LIT OOF FLEX. Pretty average slang, all thing considered ... But that’s our English, and that’s how we’re gonna speak it.

The slang of our generation might sometimes be vulgar, but it’s vulgarity that we own and we appreciate.

Yeet, and goodnight everybody.

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