How Millennials changed the English Language?

28th November 2019

How Millennials changed the English Language?

The words like ‘Netflix and chill’ or ‘the struggle is real’ come as no surprise to the younger generation, but these words might not be easy to understand by the slightly older folks.

The truth is that the ‘kids these days’ speak differently to their parents, which does not make them speak incorrectly. English, just like every language, is constantly evolving and Millennials are at the forefront of this change by establishing new language shifts.

Every older generation has blamed the younger generation for diluting the purity of the language, but if it didn’t happen, we would still be speaking in Shakespearean English (this is not to say anything is wrong with it).

The internet has made connection and communication between people a lot easier and as a result makes the language changes made by Millennials a lot more noticeable.

Who are Millennials?

Millennials, also known as Gen Y, were born in the 80’s and 90’s. They are very comfortable with electronic gadgets and internet technology and all the concepts around the 21st century technological revolution.

Language used by Millennials

Millennials are known to be dramatic and optimistic and this is expressed in the language they use. The digital culture and influence from online games have shaped everyday jargon, making gaming words such as epic, fail, win a part of mainstream language.


Growing up in a world where owning a mobile phone and where using text messages as a common form of communication comes as standard, made Millennials abbreviate words to speed up their responses. The most common ones include ONM (on my way), JK (just kidding), TMI (too much information), NITM (not in the mood), FOMO (fear of missing out), BFF (best friend forever), DM (direct message) and LOL (laugh out loud).

Redefining the words

Abbreviations are only one of the ways the Gen Y communicate with one another. Older words are being recycled and new words are being created at an astonishing speed. Examples of these words are Fam (family), Lit (amazing) and Woke (to be ‘woke’ is to be socially and politically aware).

Using nouns as verbs = verbing

Verbing is a process of using nouns as verbs or adding ‘ing’ at the end of nouns.

Instead of saying ‘use google to search for something online’, we’d say ‘google It’; in place of ‘we will take an uber to the club’, we would use ‘we are ubering to the club’.

Common words and phrases used by millennials include:

  • Netflix and chill – putting a movie on with no intention of watching and fooling
  • round on the sofa instead
  • Sorry not sorry – making it clear how un-remorseful you are about something
  • Spilling a tea – sharing gossip
  • Swerve – in other words get lost or go away, you are not welcome
  • Salty – being in a bad or grumpy mood
  • The struggle is real – sarcastic way of expressing frustration
  • Thirsty – wanting attention either on social media or in real life
  • Trolls – people who say nasty things to others online
  • Basic – suggesting that your personality and opinions and physical attributes are particularly standard
  • Goals AF – what you want to achieve or possess in life
  • Bae – the one you love the most
  • Bounce – to leave a place quickly
  • On fleek – on point, looking good
  • RT – abbreviation of retweet
  • Fire – great, trendy (your new shoes are fire)
  • Quiche – hotter than hot
  • Sus – acting shady
  • I can’t even – exclamation in response to an amazing, frustrating, surprising event
  • Dead – when you’ve seen or read something that’s so good or funny
  • Pics or it didn’t happen – providing physical evidence that whatever you said you did actually happened
  • Said no one ever – sarcastic way of saying a statement is untrue or false
  • Slay – impress or amuse
  • YAAAAAS – a very strong yes
  • Adulting – doing what grown-ups do, you know the boring stuff.

Millennial language is a constantly moving phenomenon so it may be worth following urban dictionary or the OED blog to stay up to date or to familiarise yourself with it.

This is it peeps. I gotta bounce!

Sign up to our newsletter

  • Here at Foreign Tongues we take your privacy seriously and we will only use your personal information to administer your account and to provide the products and services you have requested from us.

    From time to time we would like to email you with details of our services, latest translation and language trends, best practices, updates on recent surveys and studies and much more. If you consent us to emailing you for this purpose, please tick to confirm.