Language lessons across the USA and Canada

Call us! 1-877-566-9299 / 1-416-800-9242

Slang 2016: Just Where Are We?

Ever get the feeling that the people around you are speaking an entirely different language to you? We don’t mean that you’ve taken an impromptu holiday and found yourself surrounded by people speaking in a foreign tongue, although that doesn’t sound like the worst idea in the world really, now does it?

No, what we’re talking about is when a new slang word suddenly appears in the vocabulary of your nearest and dearest, and you’ve no idea what it means, where the word came from, or even if it’s socially acceptable to repeat.

Owing to the fickle nature of slang language, by the time this article is up and out there, some of the words about to be mentioned might already be obsolete, and for that we can only shrug, and say meh, since we have no control over it at all. Which do you already know?


You can be thirsty for many things. Many things indeed. Maybe it’s that sneaky pint after work, or the latest iPhone, but thirsty has taken on a new meaning of feeling desperation for something. As in, far too eager. For someone’s number, for someone’s, um, time. Yes. Thirsty

The X-Files: Fight The Future (1998)

SCULLY: Mulder, it’s me.
MULDER: Where are you, Scully?
SCULLY: I’m on the roof.
MULDER: Did you find anything?
SCULLY: (irritated voice) No I haven’t.
MULDER: What’s wrong?
SCULLY: Well, I just climbed up 12 floors, I’m hot, I’m thirsty and to be honest, I’m wondering what I’m doing up here.

Yes, Scully. Obviously it’s a drink you’re thirsting after and not Mulder. Yes, we believe you…

Tweet via @choo_choo27

On fleek

Ah, this lovely expression is already on its way out! To be on fleek is to be looking at your very best, to have something at its most perfect. You know, like on point, but for 2015. It’s 2016, people, time to let on fleek lay to rest.

Now, for those of you that are interested, research tells us that the expression on fleek dates back to at least 2003 and made its first appearance on Vine with the celebration of the perfect eyebrows. Apparently we have Ariana Grande, amongst others, to thank for helping it go viral. At the time of posting, Instagram has more than one million posts with the tag #onfleek. See? Viral.

Tweet via @justpromoterz


Violent, affectionate love. To glomp is to hug someone with such ferocity that they will be left in no doubt of just how much you care about them, whilst possibly having the very air squashed out of their lungs. It’s a good thing, we promise!

Glomping may have started in the land of anime and found itself being adopted by many a fangirl (or fanboy) the world over, but now, it’s out there for us all to use. What is most enjoyable about the word glomp is its onomatopoeic feel, because it’s almost the exact sound you get when you hug someone with vicious enthusiasm.


To swerve is to call bullshit, to dodge someone, or to dismiss something someone is saying because you don’t believe them at all, you know, just as if you’re driving a car. Is it an urban legend that Kanye West may have been the one to introduce us to it in Mercy? We don’t know, but we do know that we like it a lot!

Kanye West – Swerve

O-o-o-o-o-okay, Lamborghini Mercy (swerve)
Your chick, she so thirsty (swerve)
These are about the only ‘clean’ lyrics to be found in the song to be honest…

Learning a new language? Check out our free placement test to see how your level measures up!

Bye Felicia

Now. We have a small problem with this one. Because as much as we like using the expression bye Felicia to say how little we care about someone we don’t like leaving, it makes us think of the glorious Felicia Day, and we don’t want her to go anywhere at all, ever. It’s actually a line from the 1995 film Friday, but for some reason is showing more and more popularity for no good reason at all as time goes on. Ice Cube explains here.


According to the Oracle, or what we affectionately refer to as Urban Dictionary, ratchet can mean many different things indeed. But for argument’s sake, what seems to be the most popular definition is that of a person who so messy, or messed up in their life, that they are, in fact, a wretch. As in, wretched. Although even that is up for debate: if you take a look at the many, many threads out there for ratchet definition, it gets a little heated. So we’ll turn this one over to LL Cool J to explain better with the song, um, Ratchet. We’d show you the lyrics but… well. Take a look for yourself.

No, not you, Ratchet… via Flickr / Flickr



To have swag is to be cool, or to think or present yourself as being just that. It might be one of the most hated words out there given the derogatory way it is used and spoken about online. So please, use it with care, or at least your tongue firmly wedged in your cheek.

Unless, of course, you happen to be a pirate. If you’re a pirate, maybe you have swag, while you’re getting your swag, if you get our meaning. Because swag is treasure to us regular folks, in case you didn’t know.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Elizabeth: Very well. I’ll drop it.
[dangles medallion over the sea]
Barbossa: Me holds are burstin’ with swag. That bit of shine matters to us? Why?
Elizabeth: It’s what you’ve been searching for. I recognized the ship. I saw it eight years ago on the crossing from England .
Barbossa: Did ya, now?
Elizabeth: Fine. Well, I suppose if it is worthless then there’s no point in me keeping it.
[it drops a bit, the pirates lunge forward]


There are a couple of definitions of the term to slay, and because we’re feeling marginally sweet and innocent, we’re going to talk to you about the vaguely ‘cleaner’ one. Feel free to Google the other in your own sweet time.

In the sense we mean, slay has replaced, or become an accomplice to kill in the evolution of language. What’s with all the violence, people?! To slay someone, or something, is to do something with such perfection that you, um, slay, the competition. Be it your outfit, your meme to end all memes, or your sing off (okay, so we’ve been watching Pitch Perfect on repeat. We won’t apologise.) to end all sing offs. Slay. Win.

Tweet via @laflaregodjeff


We’d like to know that answer, too, @laflaregodjeff.

Take a look at Nia Sioux’s Slay video, if you want to get a better feel for slay in use.

No, Buffy, we’re good, we don’t need you for this one via Flickr / Flickr

That sounds fake but okay

Ah, this one is a current favourite. Seen just about everywhere from Tumblr to Twitter, use this phrase if someone tells you something that they believe to be true but you just don’t think is a possibility. Or don’t want to.

Because we like our research, it seems the first appearance of this expression was on Tumblr in March 2015.




Feeling a little better about your understanding of some of the most popular slang out there? We hope so! But there’s always room for more, and we will continue sharing our favourites with you. Until then… happy slanging!