Slang words seem to pop out of nowhere and suddenly become part of everyday language. Many wonder what these new slang words mean and who invented them. Whether or not you embrace slang words, it’s tough to argue that they are part of our culture and part of everyday speak for many Americans.
An online education platform that connects students with private tutors named Preply recently surveyed 2,000 Americans to learn more about their perceptions of slang words, how often they use slang words, the most popular and most hated slang words and also the settings where it’s appropriate and not appropriate to use slang words. Let us take a deeper look into what they found in their survey.
Where Americans learn slang words
Slang words don’t just magically appear out of thin air, most Americans learn slang words from someone else. The survey from Preply specifically asked respondents where they primarily learn slang from. 28% of respondents said they learn slang from the internet or from social media. The second most common way Americans learn slang words. 28% report learning slang words directly from friends. Another 25% said they learn slang words from their family. 11% report learning slang words from a partner. As you can see most people learn slang from either the internet, their phone, or the people closest to them in their lives.
Despite learning slang words from people that they trust, many Americans are still having to consult the internet to find out what the slang word actually means. 83% of those surveyed said they have had to search the internet for the meaning of a slang word after hearing it for the first time. On top of that, 68% said they consulted a younger person to help them define what the slang word meant.
When asked if people use slang incorrectly, a majority of respondents (54%) said that they have used slang incorrectly at some point in their lives. Half of Americans (50%) reported using a slang word without even knowing what the word itself meant. As you can see many Americans are confused by slang words and often use them without knowing their meaning to other people.
Which slang words are used the most in America in 2021?
So, we know that people use slang frequently, often without knowing the meaning and learn them from the internet and their closest friends. But which slang words are used the most currently?
Preply asked surveyed respondents to list the slang words they use the most. Listed below are the 10 most common slang words in America:
1. Ghosted (when someone cuts off all communication without explanation)
2. Salty (when someone is exceptionally bitter, angry, or upset)
3. On point (when someone is exactly right or perfect)
4. Woke (when someone is alert to societal injustice)
5. GOAT (greatest of all time)
6. Extra (over the top)
7. Low-key (understatedly or secretly)
8. Catfish (when someone assumes a fake identity or personality over the internet)
9. Savage (not caring about the consequences of their actions)
10. Thirsty (needing approval, affection, or attention).
The most popular slang words that originated from the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has consumed the lives of people around the globe for almost 2 years now. As a result of that an entire new set of words and popular slang have came with it.
Listed below are the most used slang words related to the COVID-19 pandemic according to surveyed respondents from the Preply survey along with their meanings:
1. Rona/The ‘Rona (Abbreviation for the coronavirus)
2. Jab (A COVID-19 shot)
3. Quarantine and chill (spending time with a romantic partner along during quarantine)
4. Quaranteam (A limited group of people you see during the pandemic)
5. Covidiot (Someone who disregards COVID-19 health and safety guidelines)
6. Quarantini (A cocktail people drink at home while under quarantine)
7. Zoom fatigue (Exhaustion or overuse of virtual platforms of communication particularly video conferencing
8. Zoombombing (A disruption of video calls by uninvited strangers)
9. Zoomer (A generation marked by social distancing and COVID-19)
10. Before times (Life before COVID-19)
Which slang words annoy Americans the most?
So, in the sections above we defined the most used slang words and the slang words that have arose from the COVID-19 pandemic. The next part of the survey from Preply asked Americans about the slang words that annoy them the most. Many people love slang words but nearly an equal amount of people also loathe them. The survey found that 3 in 5 Americans report being annoyed by slang words and their use. 66% of parents are annoyed by slang as well as 46% of non-parents.
Listed below are the most annoying slang words in America as well as their definition:
1. OK Boomer (implying that someone is old, out-of-touch, or resistant to change)
2. Bae (a term of endearment or labeling someone as good or cool)
3. Bye, Felicia (a dismissive goodbye to someone)
4. Ok fleek (perfectly executed or extremely good, attractive, or stylish)
5. Woke (being alert to societal injustice)
6. Mansplain (to explain someone to a woman in a condescending way)
7. Zaddy (a man with swagger or style)
8. Yas (a playful or non-serious way to say yes)
9. Yeet (to throw or an exclamation of excitement, approval, or surprise)
10. Periodt (a variant of the word period which is meant to emphasize a point)
The survey from Preply also asked how often Americans are using slang. Over half of Americans are using slang words in all or most of their conversations with other people. 8 in 10 say they currently use slang words as part of their vocabulary. Only 10% of Americans say they use slang rarely. Slang is most commonly used with friends, family, a partner, coworkers, stranger and even with their boss. As you might imagine younger generations are most likely to use slang words than their older counterparts. Most Americas feel it is acceptable to use slang in most social events. To learn more, check out the graphic below from Preply.
Infographic by: preply