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By the Numbers: The slang Gen Alpha uses, no cap

By the Numbers: The slang Gen Alpha uses, no cap
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I promise that headline was the last ironic use of Gen Alpha slang you’ll hear from this elder Millennial.

But Generation Alpha, those born between 2010 and today, are rising. And they speak in their own unique way that PR professionals should understand — if only so they can avoid using it in a “how do you do, fellow kids?” sort of way.

New data from Morning Consult delves into the unique terminology this cohort uses, and we’ll break it all down. But first, let’s talk about Gen Alpha, and why you should already be paying attention to this generation of children.

About Gen Alpha

Gen Alpha is profoundly shaped by technology. The same could be true of both their Gen Z and Millennial ancestors, but Generation Alpha has a particular affinity for smartphones and tablets. They’ve never known a world without these touch-based devices.

Many are dubbed “iPad kids,” often derisively, for their parents’ habit of simply handing them devices to entertain them in social situations — and their frequently negative reactions when the stimulus is taken away. Their young lives were also profoundly shaped by the coronavirus, which caused many of them to spend their formative years in varying levels of lockdown and isolation.

Their economic impact is beginning already and is only expected to grow: by 2029, they’ll account for $5.46 trillion in spending. They’re also an extremely brand-savvy generation, and not necessarily the brands you might expect. As social media sites like TikTok and Instagram give kids more direct contact with adults, they start gravitating toward the same kinds of products that their elders enjoy. These are more likely to be Sephora and Ulta skincare aficionados rather than Toys R Us kids.

But it isn’t all about glowy complexions. Gen Alphas are also big gamers, and that love extends beyond the games themselves and into following their favorite streamers and chatting about their favorites. And they’re more likely to play on a cellphone than a fancy console.

Now that we’ve gotten to know Gen Alpha more, let’s dive into how they talk.

New generation, new slang

Every generation develops its own unique vernacular that they love and that profoundly irritates and befuddles the adults in their lives.

Gen Alpha is certainly no exception.

Morning Consult’s survey found that 29% of the parents of Gen Alpha (who are mostly Millennials, with a few Gen Zers thrown in for good measure) have heard their children use language they did not understand. This percentage increases as the child grows older, with 43% of parents of 8-10-year-olds scratching their heads over the words coming out of their children’s mouth. Children who socialize online are also far more likely to use confounding phrases than those who don’t (47% vs 23%).

And what are some of these neologisms the youths love so much?

A chart showing Gen Alpha slang. Provided by Morning Consult.

You may have heard some of these. Heck, you may have used some of these. There aren’t bright generational lines around these terms; for instance, GOAT (Greatest of All Time, used to describe someone or something that’s very good) has been used in sports for years.

But let’s take a quick look at what these terms actually mean.

Bet: A term of agreement or being game for something: “Bet, let’s go!” Depending on tone, however, it can also be used to express doubt, according to Dictionary.com.

GOAT: As previously mentioned, this means the Greatest of All Time. It’s pronounced just like the animal and the adjective “goated” can also be used as a descriptor, USA Today reported. You might also see the goat emoji, which indicates the same thing.

Sus: Short for “suspect” or “suspicious” and conveying the same idea. While the slang term grew in popularity due to its use in pandemic-era game Among Us, it’s been around for nearly 100 years, Merriam-Webster said.

Bussin’: Something very good. Originates from African American Vernacular English (AAVE) on TikTok, according to Today.com.

Cap: Another AAVE term, cap means bragging or lying. No cap, however, means something is true or real.

Rizz: Dubbed the Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year 2023, rizz means charm or attractiveness, particularly in a romantic sense. It possibly derives from the word “charisma.”

Gyat: Business Insider explains this is a compliment for a girl with a nice behind.

Sigma: Usually used in the phrase “sigma male,” it means an independent man or a lone wolf, according to Dictionary.com.

Lore: In this context, lore means the story behind something. It’s often used to describe the worldbuilding of TV shows and video games, according to very reputable source Urban Dictionary.

Ratio’d: Someone is ratio’d when the ratio of the replies on a piece of social media content is much bigger than the likes or shares on that post. Typically, it means someone did something dumb and is getting dragged for it.

Fanum tax: Named after streamer Fanum, this refers to stealing part of someone’s food.

If you choose to use these words, make smart decisions.

Allison Carter is editor-in-chief of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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