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Becoming Bilingual (Learning "Teen Talk")

Dr. James Emery White | Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary | Thursday, September 7, 2017

Becoming Bilingual (Learning "Teen Talk")

If there’s one parental principle for the teen years hammered home by almost everyone, it’s the importance of communication. The challenge is that today, that means becoming bilingual.

Translation: learning “teen talk.”

Netsanity, drawing from multiple sources, has outlined three types of word groups to master beginning with the more harmless and funny expressions, such as:

  • Bruh – A casual nickname for “bro”
  • Fam – Their closest friends
  • GOAT – Acronym for “Greatest of all time”
  • TBH – Acronym for “To be honest”
  • It’s lit – Short for “It’s cool or awesome”
  • I’m weak – Short for “That was funny”
  • Hundo P – Short for 100% sure or certain
  • Gucci – Something is good or cool
  • Squad – Term for their friend group

For more on this, watch the TODAY Show feature.

Then there are those words that may not need direct intervention, but you’ll want to keep your eye on because of what your teen may be experiencing, such as:

  • Bae – Short for “baby” it’s used as a term of endearment for a significant other such as a girlfriend or boyfriend; as an acronym, it stands for “Before anyone else”
  • Curve – To reject someone romantically
  • Low key – A warning that what they’re saying isn’t something they want everyone to know
  • Salty – To be bitter about something or someone
  • Skurt – To go away or leave
  • Throw shade – To give someone a nasty look or say something unpleasant about them
  • Straight fire – Something is hot or trendy
  • Sip tea – To mind your own business

Finally, there are the words that should send up warning flags. Using these can be the means for hiding things or engaging in secret behavior. For more on this read not only the Netsanity article, but a piece by CNN that lists 28 internet acronyms every parent should know. But for now, here are some to be concerned about:

  • Thirsty – Being desperate for something
  • Down in the DM – Short for plans in their social media or texts for an oncoming sexual hook-up
  • Smash – To have casual sex
  • Netflix ‘n Chill – To meet under the pretense of watching Netflix/TV together when actually planning to meet for “making out” or sex
  • NIFOC – Acronym for “Naked in front of their computer”
  • CU46 – Acronym for “See you for sex”
  • 9 – Short for “A parent is watching”
  • GNOC – Acronym for “Get naked on camera”

And what about words you’ve heard but still don’t know about? A good resource for parents is Urban Dictionary.  

Even better? 

Get busy talking to your teen.

James Emery White


“Netsanity Parent Guide: Decoding Teen Slang,” Netsanity, read online.

Brenda Breslauer, “Teens Tell All: Your Guide to Teen Slang, From Bae to Woke,” TODAY, December 1, 2016, watch online.

Kelly Wallace, “28 Internet Acronyms Every Parent Should Know,” CNN, January 9, 2015, read online.

Click HERE for Urban Dictionary.

About the Author

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World, is available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

Becoming Bilingual (Learning "Teen Talk")