Many new words have made their way into the world, courtesy of the internet. If you’re writing contemporary these may be of use to you for dialogue although, be warned, it will date your book for future readers. If you have no need of them for conversations, they might be good for a laugh.

Either way, enjoy and use this modern slang dictionary with my compliments.

NSFW: Acronym used as a warning on inappropriate content. It means “Not Safe For Work”, i.e. don’t open this picture at work and let your co-workers and boss see it, it’s not appropriate.

Adulting: Verb. Pertaining to all things responsible, mature, boring and/or soul-sucking. Generally used in a black-humor type of situation.

Example; “Look at all these paid bills sitting here ready to mail. I might be broke now but I am adulting all over this!”

Meme: An idea/belief/behavior that spreads through imitation. Online it nearly always refers to an image that has spread virally and been seen by millions that illustrates the same type of idea. Nearly always used in a humorous context. *Unless you can give clear credit to the creator it’s best to not use them or just make your own, like I did below.

Example of a static meme (ALL THE THINGS girl);



write all the things



Gif/Gif file: Identical to a meme, except that instead of a picture it’s a tiny repeating slice of video saved as a .gif file. Think of the moving pictures in the Wizarding world that J.K. Rowling describes and you’ll have it. Interestingly, no one has legislated against using gifs yet and copyright law has not adapted to cover them. The best advice I could find online was that if you use them for purpose of commentary without trying to take credit for them and without making money off of them, they are OK to have on your blog. For now.

Example of a gif; tumblr_msbbrnajft1rq535ko1_500


AF: (NSFW) Generally used at the end of a sentence. Abbreviation for “As fuck”.

Example; “This episode was awesome AF” or “My parents caught me trying to sneak out, it was awkward AF”

Derp/Derping: Exclamation/Verb. Modern equivalent of saying “duh”. Used to signify that a thing is stupid or useless, or to describe behavior that is foolish/silly.

Example; Nicholas Cage showing a tinge of derp.


credit: sewhitebooks

TL;DR: Too Long; Didn’t Read. Can be used as a passive-aggressive comment (simply put TL;DR under the article) or as part of a post, generally as a heading for the summary of your article.

Example: TL;DR this post is about Millenial Slang words for writers.

Ship/Shipping/Shipped: Does not pertain to floaty things on the ocean blue. Shortened form of “relationship”, it has now become a verb. Refers to fans approving of or wishing that characters would be together.

Example: I shipped Peeta and Katniss through the whole series. Team Peeta all the way!

Low Key: Something fairly private, like a guilty pleasure, or something that is more of a hobby than a full time obsession.

Example: “I low key love Enya’s music.” “We low key party. Like, we’re home by 10.”

*symbols around a sentence*: Denotes physical action, always in the present tense. It’s used online for role-playing games or to describe the actions/sequence of events you want the readers to picture. Why? I have no idea. It just appeared and is now accepted internet slang.

Example: *Peers at computer screen* *sees zero followers, likes, reads or visits to site* *cries and hits keyboard in dramatic fashion* *Deletes site*

No Chill/Zero Chill: Someone who is too scared, angry or reckless to think rationally has lost their chill. Generally this refers to that person overreacting. It also can refer to being ruthless, as in, acting with zero chill towards someone else. Saying something very offensive, knowing it’s offensive, and not caring at all that it will make the person you’re speaking to angry, is an example of having no chill.

no chill.gif

*Smol/Smol bean: Diminutive form of the word “small”, this is meant to express how adorable and cute something is. Much emphasis on cute.

Example; my smol son is the sassiest of my three children.

Random Capitalized Letters/AlTeRNaTiNg cAPS: Tread carefully with this one, it can be annoying. It’s very fluid and the meaning changes from person to person, but in general it is a way to visually express that you are mocking something. It’s partly emphasis (BUT NOT SHOUTING) and partly irony, with a big dash of sarcasm.

Example; Cait on the blog Paper Fury has a nice, deft touch with this type of humor. See this post of hers for examples, and also she is freaking hilarious.

Cinnamon Roll: Literally evolved from a satire website headline that went viral and was perverted by fandoms for their own use. (I really love this.) The website The Onion ran an article about a “beautiful cinnamon roll, too pure for this world.” In the fandom world it now means a character who is sweet and nice and gets more pain than they really deserve.

Example: Any character you feel didn’t deserve all the bad things that happen to them is a cinnamon roll.

Go have some fun with modern slang! Most of it will be different next year, so get it while it’s hot. There are hundreds of terms I didn’t include in this post, partly to keep it short and readable, mostly because I hope that by ignoring slang like “bae” it will die a natural death and go away forever.

*Also, I feel truly sorry but also somehow happy for future linguists who have to sit down and try to figure this shit out.

For some more slang with a West Coast California twist, check out the second installment A General Slang Dictionary for Writers


photo courtesy: artist Josh Byers

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