Yo! If you have ‘FOMO’ and want to be a ‘fly’ guy, not wanting to be ‘cheugy’ or ‘cancelled’, but at the same time want to ‘flex’ your acumen to be the ‘main character’, you could read this article with ‘no caps’ and then you might want to ‘humblebrag’ about it.
Incomprehensible? Couldn’t understand? Not if you are acquainted with New Gen words. So here goes. FOMO means Fear Of Missing Out. Fly means cool and cheugy (pronounced chew-gee) stands for anything that’s considered uncool or untrendy. Cancelled is the New Gen word for shaming actions and opinions. Flex simply means showing off. Main character stands for charismatic. No caps is a synonym for seriously, and humblebrag means announcing an important accomplishment in a casual or self-deprecating tone.
If I paraphrase the opening paragraph, it will read: Hey! If you have the fear of missing out and want to be cool, not wanting to be untrendy or shamed for your actions (and at the same time show you have charisma) you could read this article seriously and then casually boast about it. Phew!
New-generation terminology is invading social media, get-togethers, college canteens and the like. It proliferates through conversations, especially with younger people more prone to using it.
The expressions have their own peculiar etymology – some derived from history, some from popular English shows on OTT platforms, while others are two words joined together, or just acronyms.
A few of these ‘modern’ words have interesting antecedents. For example, ‘woke’ (pronounced WOHK) is an adjective that originally meant ‘alert to racial prejudice and discrimination’. The word has now gained a wider meaning. It originates from African American English, where it has been used since the mid-1900s, to mean politically or culturally well-informed. The popularisation of the word in the 2010s by movements such as Black Lives Matter led to the more widespread use of the term by non-Black individuals as well. Woke was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2017.
Similarly, the word ‘cancel’ is a noun that means the mass practice of shunning or boycotting (usually on social media) people or organisations that have said or done anything unacceptable, as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure. The word has been used since the 14th century to mean destroy. But ‘cancel culture’ picked up a few years ago, especially in the context of the MeToo movement.
Here’s another coded sentence: “Heard about your ‘BT’. He’s known for ‘gaslighting’ people and putting them in a ‘cringe’. Have ‘receipts’ of his behaviour, which is basically because he’s ‘salty’. Come over, we’ll have some ‘tea’ over tea.”
How many of the New Gen terms did you know? BT stands for Bad Trip. If you were gaslighting people, you would be manipulating them. ‘Cringe’ is embarrassing, and ‘receipts’ translates as proof. Salty is the New Gen term for upset or jealous. Tea is slang for gossip. So, the above para, to folks still bound by tradition, would read: “Heard about your bad trip. He’s known for manipulating people and putting them in embarrassing positions. I have proof of his behaviour, which is basically because he is jealous. Come over, we will indulge in some gossip over tea.”
The New Gen word ‘lit’ implies something that is very happening. ‘The party is lit’, or ‘The event is lit’. The term is taken from the past tense of the verb ‘light’. Then you could be ready to ‘chillax’ – a fusion of ‘chill’ and ‘relax’.
Now for some new lingo related to food. A ‘freegan’ is a person who tries to buy as little as possible, uses discarded objects and/or food, and recycles everything they can. They’re environmentally conscious and friendly, and they do their best to reduce waste. Unfortunately, the word now has a negative connotation. Then there’s ‘froyo’, short for frozen yogurt. Hungry and no food at hand? You get ‘hangry’ (hungry + angry). If you’ve had too much food and want to be fit, you search for ‘fitspiration’ (fitness + inspiration) – pictures and social media posts that inspire you to chase fitness goals.
Some new words are old words with a twist. For example, ‘ghost’. The spooky word now has a new, informal meaning that has to do with disappearing. Used as a verb, to ghost means to suddenly cut off someone (usually a romantic partner) by not answering their phone calls and text messages.
Every year, hundreds of new words are added to the English dictionary, especially those used frequently in a wide range of contexts. One of the most effective ways to catch up is to write down new words when you come across them. Make notes about its meaning and usage. After all, as the decades-old Bee Gees hit goes – “It’s only words and words are all I have, to take your heart away.”
[This article appeared on NDTV.com | Friday, May 05, 2023]