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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

29 Trendy Slang Words That Seriously Need to End

Each year the Internet provides the world with a bevy of slang words to latch on to and insert into as many conversations as possible. However, all trends must come to an end, and these trendy words and phrases have run their course.

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Language evolves as the world

Language evolves as the world revolves

The year 2020 has been a wild ride: Epic natural disasters, including record-breaking wildfires all over the world, the worst hurricane and typhoon season on record, plagues of locusts, permafrost thawing, and famines; political instability including protests, riots, and the most contentious U.S. presidential election in memory; and let’s not forget the coronavirus pandemic that is still menacing the globe. Call it the “coronacoaster,” if you will, and unfortunately, we aren’t at the end of the ride yet.

As the world has changed in 2020, so has the language we use to talk about all these new things, including some very creative slang. Read on for slang words we’d love to see the end of by 2021! (2022 at the latest. And don’t call them “normal”!)

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The new

The new normal

With everything upended, many people are looking for a sense of normalcy. Unfortunately, experts keep telling us that these things—including natural disasters, political instability, and the coronavirus—are now the “new normal.” We couldn’t be more tired of hearing this! Can’t we just have a little bit of the old normal back? Coffee with friends? Doing yoga at a gym? Feeling avocados at the grocery store? Heck, we’d even take something annoyingly normal like sitting next to someone noisily drinking their soda during a movie if it meant we could watch a new release sitting in a real theater!

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The COVID-19 pandemic has sharply divided people, largely based on whether or not they believe the information being put out by mainstream scientists. However, the funny part (if there is one in a society becoming super polarized) is that each side uses the phrase “covidiot”—a melding of covid idiot—to describe those who disagree with them. We can’t wait for when people can agree that the only idiot is the virus and we can retire this term for humans. Here’s the polite way to handle a disagreement.

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Wearing a mask should be a public health matter yet it’s become a political statement these days, as shown by the common use of “anti-masker” to describe people who refuse to follow public health guidelines and wear a mask in public. Whether they claim dubious health conditions or political oppression, anti-maskers take great pride in their bare faces. Hopefully, we can get the virus under control soon and will only need to comment on people’s mask-wearing status on Halloween.

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Anti-maskers refuse to wear masks on principle (even if it’s misguided) but maskholes are just jerks who won’t wear a mask in order to make other people upset. You’ll often see maskholes cutting holes in their masks, wearing masks under their nose or chin, pulling their mask aside to sneeze or cough into the air, or threatening to lick people. Let’s all practice being nice to each other and then we can retire this word!

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Antifa is a contraction of anti-fascist and while that sounds like a good thing—shouldn’t everyone be anti-fascist?—in today’s political climate it’s used to describe far-left anarchists. President Donald Trump has used the term in opposition to White supremacists, to create a false equivalency of domestic terrorism that has been repeatedly disproven by our own intelligence agencies. We welcome the day when we can all be pro-democracy and domestic terrorism is eliminated.

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What was once one of the most popular girls’ names in the United States is now used as a derogatory term to describe a certain type of middle-aged woman with a stacked bob haircut and extremely entitled attitude. She’s known for bothering retail workers and her catchphrase is “I want to talk to your manager.” We—and all the nice Karens—will be glad to retire this. At best it’s overused and at worst it’s a way to silence women from speaking up when they have legitimate complaints. Just the fact that there’s no male equivalent shows the inherent sexism in this tired term — just one way women still aren’t equal to men.

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Sars-CoV-2, the official name of COVID-19, is a pain to remember, much less say, so it’s no surprise that people have come up with a variety of slang terms to describe it. “Corona,” “COVID,” “the pandemic,” and “the virus” are all widely used but one of the most popular is “the ‘Rona” or just “‘Rona.” It’s catchy and there’s nothing wrong with it, we’d just love to not have to talk about COVID-19 by any name anymore. Can we just cancel the whole pandemic?

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Doomscrolling—the practice of continuing to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news may be perceived as saddening, disheartening, or depressing—has existed since the dawn of the Internet. But it’s taken on a life of its own during all the tumult in 2020. Whether we were “researching” the pandemic, hurricanes, forest fires, political unrest, the contentious election, or global climate change, there was plenty of bad news to keep us going. Here’s hoping 2021 is much calmer and we will have no need to doomscroll!

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Hair salons are one of many places that we’ve been told to limit visiting or stop going to altogether. The result? Many people trying to DIY their own or a loved one’s haircut. Just google #coronacut for thousands of hilarious examples of too-short bangs, uneven trims, and regrettable dye jobs. It’s given us a whole new appreciation for hairstylists’ skills and we look forward to never having to hear about another coronacut again.

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Social-distancing guidelines forced everyone to get creative with how they socialized. Enter: The Zoom Happy Hour. Log on to a video chat with your friends, bring your own beverage, and reminisce about “the before times.” Popular drinks include “quarantinis,” “coronaritas,” and, of course, Corona beers. Someday we’ll be able to enjoy drinks with friends in person again and we’ll gladly retire these corona-cocktails!

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You problem

“Sounds like a you problem” has become a popular response when someone asks for help but you don’t want to get involved. It’s designed to make people recognize they are responsible for cleaning up their own messes but it can come across as callous and unempathetic. Instead, try one of these 24 little ways to be a true friend.

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Wearing a mask for long periods of time can trap sweat and bacteria against your skin leading to some serious (and annoying!) breakouts. We’ll keep wearing our masks but it doesn’t mean we’re fine with the extra acne. These comfy face masks tend to be a little less irritating for those with sensitive skin.

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FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is a popular term for the feeling people have when seeing everyone else living their best lives on social media. But not everyone’s an extrovert and some of us are relieved to not be invited to everything—a feeling described as “JOMO” or the joy of missing out. And then our whole lives got canceled and even the most introverted of introverts started to miss people. Now there’s no fear or joy involved, we’re all just missing out.

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Okay, boomer

Millennials are frustrated with how dismissive older generations are of their problems and have coined this phrase as a way to dismiss them right back. Why are the 60-year-olds fighting with the 30-year-olds over who had it worse growing up? We honestly don’t care. Can’t we all just be a little nicer to each other and recognize that everyone is dealing with some tough stuff right now?

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Remember when the president’s impeachment was supposed to be the big news of 2020? Yes, that was just a year ago! Since then, that headline has been eclipsed by epic wildfires, the worst hurricane season on record, civil unrest, a heated election, murder hornets, plagues of locusts, Siberia thawing—oh, and, that pesky pandemic. It does all feel a bit apocalyptic. We’ll be more than happy to ditch this word when things settle down again (hopefully soon!).

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What started out as a way to label people as culturally and politically aware has now become evidence of how culturally and politically aware people like to think they are. If you feel the urge to call yourself and others woke, it’s less believable that you actually are. Avoid these words and phrases that make you sound dumb.

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“Lit” implies that something is cool, especially when it pertains to parties. It’s also a synonym for drunk, high, wasted—anything to describe having a great time. However, it looks like the fire has gone out of this word. These slang words are actually in the dictionary.

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Don’t take this word literally. If something is “fire,” it means that it’s hot, poppin’, crazy, or awesome. This word is not to be confused with actual fire, which can legitimately kill you. Let’s stop the confusion over these slang words and put this “fire” out.

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An acronym for the “Greatest of All Time,” this is used when referring to the greats, mostly in sports. However, the term has transcended fields and can describe anyone thriving in their industry, such as Jeff Bezos, Rihanna, Maxine Walters, etc. While this is quite the compliment, there are more appealing labels to give such people than a smelly animal. We actually love these brand new slang words.

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When someone is over the top, or “doing the most” as people also love to say, they’re being extra. Yes, people don’t always have to try so hard, but describing them as “extra” is also a little extra.

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When you’re annoyed, bitter, or upset, you’re “salty.” One can stay salty for a moment or for a very long time. Ex: “Melissa won’t stop using the word salty to describe her feelings, and now she has me feeling salty.”

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Fake news

Made popular by President Donald Trump, you would think “fake” news is supposed to describe completely inaccurate and fabricated news, but it is now most commonly used to describe any news that goes against one’s views. Fake news is a new phrase, but these words immediately make you sound old.

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“Bae” is an abbreviation for “before anyone else,” or simply a shortening of “babe,” depending on who you ask. While “bae” exploded into the mainstream in the early two-thousand-teens, Esquire reports that people have been using it to mean a significant other or a crush since the previous decade. Today, social media users use it to describe everything from a platonic friend to a good book to a plate of chicken fingers, and it seems well past time to say “bye” to “bae.”

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This word is used to add emphasis to the validity of a statement, regardless of whether it’s actually true or not. But until “facts” is used to describe actual facts—again—it needs to be removed from our vocabulary #facts.

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Yes + excitement = Yaaas! There are a lot less annoying ways and slang words to be excited about something, especially without changing the pitch of your voice, dragging out vowels, and snapping your fingers. Find out some annoying words and phrases you say all the time without thinking.

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This word is used when describing someone who doesn’t care and does things regardless of the consequences. A situation, a comeback, or a person can all be savage. Though it’s mostly used as a term of endearment, its overuse has contributed to its annoyance. Check out the list of insults that have been reinvented as compliments.

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When something is over, dead, rejected, it’s canceled. But people really love to use this word whenever referring to others, which needs to stop. You can’t cancel a person. This belongs on the list of words and phrases that smart people never, ever use.

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If you really love your “fam,” you’ll add the -ily. But don’t use -ily (I love you) by itself; that should have been left back in 2014.

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This word is so done, just like all the other words on this list. Next, read up on these trendy words that you probably don’t truly know the meaning of.

Amari D. Pollard
Amari D. Pollard is a writer and audience development strategist. She is currently a Roy H. Park Fellow at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media and previously worked as the Head of Audience Development at The Week. Her writing focuses on politics, culture, relationships, and health. In addition to Reader’s Digest she has been published at The Week, Bustle, PopSugar, Inside Lacrosse, and more. She has a B.A. in Communications from Le Moyne College.
Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen, BS, MS, has been covering health, fitness, parenting and culture for many major outlets, both in print and online, for 15 years. She's the author of two books, co-host of the Self Help Obsession podcast and also does freelance editing and ghostwriting. She has appeared in television news segments for CBS, FOX and NBC.