Since time immemorial, the olds have had an annoying habit of co-opting words and phrases created and used by the young’uns, then adding those once-secret words and phrases into their daily lexicons, lotsa times in advertising. Whether it was triggered by a Paleolithic “cool mom” copycatting her sullen teenaged daughter’s cave drawings or grandparents posting their own selfies and #TBT pics on the Book of Faces, the thrill and utility of having a language of one’s own is greatly diminished for young people, it seems, as soon as older generations (or marketers) get their hands on it.
That’s not to say that some learned and not-so-learned geezers aren’t inclined to use or make up terminology to suit their vanity or reading comprehension levels; otherwise, words and phrases such as “bigly” and “alternative facts” likely couldn’t have entered the mainstream vernacular as widely or as wholly as they have of late.
Still, there’s a long history of young people coming up with words and phrases that reflect the pop culture zeitgeist and media influences of the day, making them ripe for commercial picking. And while some youthful slang has been swept into the dustbins of jargon history (Gag me with a spoon, anyone?), some other lingo may end up standing the test of time and cross over to longer-lasting middle-of-the-road appeal and usage.
The sheer volume of new Millennial slang makes it difficult to keep pace with what anyone under age 35 is even talking about these days. But if marketers are looking for the next “crunk” or “FTW” to use ironically (or not-so-ironically) in their next campaigns, here are a few contenders on the Millennial dictionary soon-to-be co-opted by marketers short list:
af, adjective, meaning something is exceedingly that thing. May or may not be (but totally is) derived from a curse word and usually is used to describe a person (that girl is hot af), place (Arizona is hot af) or thing (this Totino’s pizza roll is hot af).
dead, adjective, not to be confused with the opposite of live. To be dumbstruck by something to the point of death (but not really). Variation: ded.
GOAT, adjective, acronym for “greatest of all time.”
live, adjective, not to be confused with the opposite of dead. To be inspired by something to the point of having life (but not literally).
low key, adjective, not to be confused with high key. Ambivalence with a twist. This year’s version of kinda sorta maybe.
slay, verb, not to be confused with giving (i.e., giving life). To achieve and/or accomplish something exceedingly well. This year’s version of “killin’ it.”
yassss, all-purpose exclamation, frequently followed by queen. “Yassss, queen, you are giving me life!”