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TikTok Slang: What Do Your Comments Mean?

Chances are, your TikTok comments are littered with out-of-this-world Gen Z lingo you don’t understand. Unless you plan on adopting Regina George’s mom’s “*cool* mom” persona, you’d better keep up.

This post is for the OG internet users– those of us too busy scraping together mortgage savings and battling existential crises to ask our Gen Z correspondents (nieces, nephews, cousins, and siblings) for a vocab lesson on the word “rizz”.

Have no fear, millennials, for the search engine algorithms have blessed you with the key to understanding today’s social media dialogue.

What is TikTok Slang?

TikTok is a place where a few smutty romance novels with hockey player protagonists create new target markets (and lots of drama) for hockey teams in the real world.

It’s a place where the Vines of old are repeated and condensed, repeated, condensed until they become recognizable micro-phrases immortalized in the TikTok vernacular. It’s a never-ending game of TikTok telephone where the shortest clip always wins.

If you aren’t a certified Gen Z-er or an honorary member who spends 5+ hours on the app every day, it makes sense that you’d struggle to understand what certain phrases in your comments section actually mean.

How to Understand TikTok Slang

TikTok users speak– and even think– in trends.

Much of our conversations in the real world rely on associations. Because Gen Z’s culture was defined on the short video platform and its predecessor (RIP, Music.ly), much of the shared experiences they use to make those associations were born from TikTok trends.

It’s kind of like when my grandfather throws out his classic “tighter than a cow’s a** in fly season” idiom. If I were trying to appeal to him and his cowboy brethren, investigating that graphic reference would be the place to start.

The Gen Z references you need to understand to use TikTok slang the right way aren’t nearly as graphic.

Thankfully, the undercurrents of Gen Z culture don’t live in viral memes, trending videos, and mainstream media, not in cow pastures. No field trip necessary.

TikTok Slang Glossary

Don’t have the time to go undercover on Gen Z TikTok? Here’s a list of common TikTok slang with definitions and/or explanations:

  • 👁️👄👁️: a shocked reaction to something funny in a bizarre or cringy way.
  • It’s a canon event: A major, character-building, life-defining event.
  • I’m CEO of: A way to say you have a lot of experience and knowledge about a topic.
  • Grippy socks: References a stay in a psychiatric institution.
  • Rizz: Short for charisma, used to describe effortless charm.
  • Caught in 4k: Caught red-handed.
  • Mid: below average or mediocre.
  • Cap (or cap emoji): A false statement.
  • No cap: no lies, all truth.
  • Pick me behavior: Distinguishing yourself from others to appeal to a potential romantic partner and coming off desperate in the process.
  • Sneaky link: A secret hookup.
  • POV: Point of view.
  • TFW: that feeling when.
  • Altered my brain chemistry: A powerful moment changed you as a person.
  • Bones day, no bones day: A bones day is a good, productive day. A no bones day is a rest day. This came from Jonathan Graziano holding up his elderly pug Noodle each morning to see whether or not he would stay upright. If Noodle stood, it was a bones day. If Noodle fell, it was a no bones day.
  • Cheugy: An adjective meaning basic, untrendy, and trying too hard.
  • Clean girl aesthetic: Simultaneously beautiful and casual, effortless, minimalist
  • Dead (or skill emoji): Reacting to something funny.
  • It’s giving: Emitting a specific vibe. For example, “Your Eras tour fit is giving cottage-core Barbie.”
  • Main character energy: Living like the protagonist in a book or movie by putting yourself first.
  • Pushing P: Making money.
  • NPC non-playable character – someone incapable of thinking for themselves
  • Living rent-free in my head: An unwanted something or someone is consuming your mental energy and impacting your emotions.
  • Simp: Someone desperate for romantic attention from another person.
  • Spicy: Risque.
  • Sus: Suspicious.
  • Unalive: An algorithm-friendly way to say “kill”.
  • Face card: Pretty privilege. Used alongside selfies with captions like “face card never declined”.
  • Looted: Synonym for “drip” and “swag”, used to describe someone’s outfit or sense of style.
  • Broke my scale/BMS: Someone or something is too amazing to be ranked from 1-10.
  • Devious Lick: to steal something in a sneaky way. Originated with @dtx.2cent video of a hand sanitizer machine in their backpack.
  • Baka: Japanese for crazy, foolish, or stupid.
  • Abowwww:  Originally popularized by the ShantiiP X TarioP song as a way to hype someone up. Also used in Arabic, Turkish, and Sweden to say “wow” or “omg”.
  • Slay: Used to tell someone they did an amazing job. “You’re slaying” is like saying “you’re killing it”.  
  • Purr: An expression of approval, happiness, or excitement.
  • What the dog doin’: What are you doing?
  • Mother is mothering: Users, especially from the LGTBQIA+ community where the term originated, refer to their favorite celebrities/idols as “mother”. The expression “mother is mothering” comes from a tweet by Taylor Swift fan account @Iikedaylight. It basically means the “mother” in question is doing what they do best– being amazing.  
  • Ate and left no crumbs: Someone popped off in a good way, with no improvement to be made. Basically, you’re calling something perfect.
  • GOAT: Greatest of all time. For example, “Rotten Mango podcast is the true crime GOAT”.  

Understanding common TikTok slang will help you connect and engage with your audience on a more authentic level. Refer to these terms while managing your comments section and brainstorming new content ideas. With a bit of practice, you’ll find natural ways to integrate them into your videos.

Want to keep a pulse on TikTok trends? Check out our new guide “A Social Media Manager’s Guide to Mastering Social Media Trends” so you can ride TikTok trends from inception to slang-ception.

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Danielle Townsley

Danielle is the Social Media Manager at PLANOLY. She stays in the know of the latest industry trends and is always finding ways to create engaging and educational content for PLANOLY’s social platforms.

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