Can You Decode Your Teen’s Texting Language?

By on Sep 09, 2020

It’s hard to believe, right, parents? In just a blink or two, you went from being the teenager dropping cool phrases like “rad” and “gnarly” to monitoring a teenager texting words like “lowkey,” “IRL” and “CD9” into her smartphone non-stop.*

For generations, teens have been crafting terms to differentiate themselves from other age groups. The difference today is that smartphone texting has multiplied the scope of that code to include words, emojis, numbers, and hashtags.

The times have changed, fo’ sho.’

Digital Deciphering

You don’t have to speak your child’s language (please don’t). However, with new terms and risks emerging online each day, it’s a good idea to at least understand what they are saying.

Since kids have been spending more time online due to the pandemic, we thought we might discover a few new and interesting terms. We were right. We found stories of teens referring to the Coronavirus as “Miss Rona” and “Rona,” and abbreviating quarantine to “Quar.” A “Corona Bae” is the person you would only plan to date during a lockdown.

Much of the coded language kids use is meant to be funny, sarcastic, or a quick abbreviation. However, there are times when a text exchange can slip into risky territory. Seemingly harmless, text exchanges can spark consequences such as bullying, sextortion, privacy violations, and emotional or physical harm.

Stay Connected

To help kids avoid dangerous digital situations, we recommend three things: 1) Talk early and often with your kids about digital risk and behavior expectations, 2) Explore and use parental monitoring software, and 3) Know your child’s friends and communities online and in real life.

Note: Context is everything. Many of these terms are used in jest or as casual banter. Be sure to understand the context in which a word is used.

A Few Terms You May See **

Flex. This term means showing off. For example, “Look at her trying to flex with her new car.”

Crashy. Description of a person who is thought to be both crazy and trashy.

Clap back. A comeback filled with attitude.

Cringey. Another word for embarrassing.

Hop off. Mind your own business.

Spill tea or Kiki. Dishing gossip.

Sip tea. Listening to gossip.

Salty. Mad, angry, jealous, bitter, upset, or irritated.

“She gave me a salty look in class.”

Extra. Over the top or unnecessarily dramatic.

Left on read. Not replying to someone’s message.

Ghosting. Ending a friendship or relationship online with no explanation.

Neglext. Abandon someone in the middle of a text conversation.

Ok, Boomer. Dismissing someone who is not up to date enough.

(Throw) shade. Insult or trash talk discreetly.

Receipts. Getting digital proof, usually in the form of screenshots.

THOT. Acronym for That H__ Over There.

Thirsty. A term describing a person as desperate or needy. “Look at her staring at him — she’s so thirsty.”

Thirst trap. A sexy photograph or message posted on social media.

Dis. Short for showing blatant disrespect.

Preeing. A word that describes stalking or being stalked on Facebook.

Basic. Referring to a person as mainstream, nothing special. Usually used in a negative connotation.

Chasing Clout. A negative term describing someone trying too hard to get followers on social media.

9, CD9, or Code9, PAW, POS. Parents are around, over the shoulder.

99. All clear, the parents are gone. Safe to resume texting or planning.

KPC. Keeping parents clueless.

Cheddar, Cheese, or Bread. These are all terms that mean money.

Cap. Means to lie as in “she’s capping.” Sending the baseball cap emoji expresses the same feeling. No capping means “I’m not lying.”

Hundo P. Term that is short for “hundred percent;” absolutely, for sure.

Woke. Aware of and outspoken on current on political and social issues.

And I oop. Lighthearted term to describe a silly mistake.

Big oof. A slightly bigger mistake.

Yeet. An expression of excitement. For example, “He kissed me. Yeeeet!”

Retweet. Instead of saying, “yes, I agree,” you say, “retweet.”

Canceled. Absurd or foolish behavior is “canceled.” For example, “He was too negative on our date, so I canceled him.”

Slap or Snatched. Terms that mean fashionable or on point. For instance, “Those shoes are slap” or “You look snatched.”

And just for fun, here’s a laugh out loud video from comedian Seth Meyer’s on teen Coronavirus slang you’ll enjoy on YouTube.

* lowkey (a feeling you want to keep secret), IRL (In Real Life), CD9 also Code9 (Adult Alert used to hide secretive activity). ** Terms collected from various sources, including NetLingo.com, UrbanDictionary.com, webopedia.com, and from tweets and posts from teens online.

About the Author

Toni Birdsong

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist for McAfee. She is an author, speaker, and cyber savvy mom of two teenagers (much to their dismay). As a family safety evangelist for McAfee, she focuses on online safety and often speaks to educators, parents, and teens about dodging the dangers online. She is the co-owner of ...

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