In 30 seconds:
- This is your ultimate guide on TikTok Slang 2022. We’ve got all the TikTok code words in one place.
- What does Cheugy mean? We’ll take you through all of Gen Z’s abbreviations and conversational words you need to know.
- Think means smart? Think again. Emojis are just as important and we’ve got the lowdown.
Are you up to date with your TikTok slang? Do you ‘lowkey’ want to know the ins and outs of TikTok’s abbreviations, colloquialisms and emojis? Well, we’ve got the goods. We’re taking you through every slang term on TikTok and exactly what each means.
In 2022, brands need to be up to speed. That means knowing what to say and what not to say when communicating, especially with young people. Ever since the beginning of the internet, digital language has evolved with new abbreviations (remember the birth of LOL?) and adapted meanings of words. But language is adapting faster now than ever before.
Social media allows people to share slang words faster and more efficiently than any time in history. Slang was originally invented for small groups of people to communicate – and content community-orientated apps like TikTok have supercharged this. It helps create identities and form in-groups. And who are the ones most invested in new slang? Young people.
Gen Z slang and TikTok
From MSN messenger’s “BRB” to TikTok’s “Cheugy”, young people have been calling the shots with online slang. And now Gen Z has centre stage.
They have been painting the internet with code-like flourishes and phrases and reinventing known words to suit them. They are a self-proclaimed inventive generation with over half (51%) of them saying they are more creative than older generations. This manifests in new exciting content that changes online language. If this is their art, TikTok is their canvas.
The video-sharing app is Gen Z’s favourite for self-expression and creative content. 63% of Gen Z use TikTok on a daily basis, compared to the 57% who use Instagram, and 54% who use Snapchat. It’s a social media channel that’s growing at a rapid pace (1 billion users and counting) and therefore TikTok phrases and TikTok code words are also rising in popularity.
It’s crucial that brands know what they’re talking about. Literally. So do you know your Simp from your CEO? Well, by the end of this article you will. From abbreviations and captions to in-jokes and emojis, we’ve got it all. So let’s dive into the TikTok slang of today and get your brand flexing that newfound vocabulary.
You’ll likely see a lot of initials on TikTok. That’s because users know how to keep captions and comments within the word limits in simple ways. It’s also because shortened terms are easier to write and sometimes easier to say. FYI, these are pretty important.
|1437||1437 is TikTok code for “I love you forever”. The numbers represent the number of letters in each word.|
|ALR||The most common meaning for ALR on TikTok is “alright”.|
|AS||This is an abbreviation for the Adult Swim trend. This trend has people creating their own “bumpers” that used to air on the cartoon network adult programming block.|
|ASL||ASL has been around the internet for a number of years and stands for Age Sex Location. On TikTok, however, the meaning has somewhat changed. They have been using ASL as a shortened TikTok phrase for “as hell”.|
|ATP||ATP means “at this point” or “answer the phone”.|
|BBL||This is a very specific abbreviation for “Brazilian But Lift”. This was a trend that started making the rounds on TikTok about a beauty procedure. If you see this reference it’s likely someone has had the surgery.|
|BMS||BMS means “Broke My Scale”. This is a reference to the “attractiveness” scale, so when someone states this abbreviation they are effectively telling the person it’s aimed at that they think they are extremely attractive.|
|DC||This is not referring to the comics! DC stands for Dance Credits. This is where someone is referencing another creator that created the viral dance or challenge they are doing.|
|DNI||This means Do Not Interact. This is often used as a content warning for adult material. It is a way for the creator to warn people off if they are underage for example. E.g. DNI if you are under 18.|
|FR||This abbreviation means “for real”. This can also be phrased as a question, e.g. “are you for real?”.|
|FYP||FYP means the For You Page. This is where most TikTokers get their content. The TikTok algorithm works by suggesting content for you that it thinks you will enjoy based on other content you have seen. This is presented on the FYP. Often captions will include #fyp or #FYP to gain more views.|
|IB||IB means inspired by. This is usually where someone has had a content idea inspired by another creator and they want to tag them. You will usually see a user tagged next to this abbreviation.|
|KLM||This has been used as another way of writing “calm” which means “okay” or that’s fine.|
|NSFR||This stands for “Not Safe For Ramadan”. Similar to NSFW (not suitable for work) this is an abbreviation used to warn Muslims of content that would be against their Ramadan traditions or beliefs.|
|OOMF||OOMF stands for One Of My Followers. It’s a shortened way to say this for captions and comments.|
|PFP||PFP is short for Profile Picture.|
|POV||POV means point of view. This is often referring to the cameraman's viewpoint in a video. Sometimes it's used in the context of impersonations.|
|RN||Rn means Right now. It’s a phrase often added to sentences but to make it less bulky Gen Z has shortened it.|
|Rt||Rt stands for Retweet. This was a term originally coined through Twitter with people deeming something as shareable. This has now been used in TikTok too to talk about sharing content.|
|SMH||This means “Shaking my head”. It is used as a reaction to content to express disappointment and worry.|
|Sus||This is shortened from suspicious. The term was made popular through the multiplayer game “Among us” where teams would have to work out who the “imposter” is.|
|SW||There are a few meanings for SW on the internet, but the most used one is “Sex Worker”. This allows users to put up captions for their content about this role without getting banned from using the word “sex”.|
|TBH||This stands for “to be honest”. This abbreviation has been floating around the internet for a while but is often used in TikTok comments and captions.|
|TfW||This means “That Feeling When”. It is often referring to a particular emotion that people find relatable. E.g. Tfw you get to your front door and can’t find your keys|
|W||W means “Win”. It’s a faster way of showing your approval to a creator.|
|YT||YT does not mean YouTube anymore. It’s actually the slang term for white, referencing skin colour or ethnicity.|
|#xyzbca||No one fully knows what this abbreviation or set of letters is for. It is used in a lot of videos to get featured on people’s For You Pages. It’s similar to the #fyp and #foryou.|
Descriptions and names
Gen Z have found more creative ways to describe or name types of people, things and their lives in general. Some of these nouns and adjectives have been made viral by top TikTokers, and others have just organically developed with the digital language.
|4lifers||A viral video from @boobackbaby featuring rapper Lucki made this term popular. The lyrics go “what we is? 4lifersss!”. This means friends, family or siblings who will be there for you for life. It’s a way of expressing bonds.|
|Accountant||The viral “I’m an accountant” song on TikTok birthed this slang word. TikTokers used this phrase to dodge questions about their work. It began with Rocky Paterra writing the song about being a struggling actor. This then has been used as audio in many other videos.|
|Baka||Baka means “idiot” in Japanese. It can be offensive, but it is now used more casually on the app, especially among the Anime and Manga subcultures of TikTok.|
|CEO||On TikTok CEO still means chief executive officer, but it is used in new and more creative scenarios. Saying someone is the “CEO” of something means they are the absolute best at it. E.g. a follower commenting on a beauty influencer “You are the literal CEO of contouring”.|
|Cheugy||This is a headline-making example of Gen Z language, but what does Cheugy actually mean? Cheugy is a word that refers to people or objects that are out of touch or not trendy.|
|Face Card||Face Card has a few meanings. One of them is that “you’re stunning” and another is that you demand respect. Many people will post selfies or videos of themselves stating "face card always valid" or "face card never declined" as a way of showing how respected they are.|
|Fire / Lit||If something is fire or lit, it means it's awesome, good or great. It's today’s slang for “cool”.|
|Fit||Nope, ‘fit’ doesn’t mean ‘good looking. This is now a shortening of the word “outfit”. When someone is admiring a person’s “fit” that means they like what they’re wearing.|
|Fruity||Fruity is a term used to describe someone who belongs to the LGBTQ+ community. It was once deemed offensive, but TikTokers have reclaimed this word, especially on LGBTQ TikTok. Remember, the LGBTQ+ community has been using codewords for years. If you want to know more about how TikTok is supporting them take a look at our article on LGBTQ TikTok.|
|Granola||A "Granola Girl" is someone who is hippie, cool and normally heavily into sustainability. You can also describe a person as "Granola".|
|Heather||Thanks to Conan Grey’s song, to be called a Heather means you are idolised. A Heather is someone who is popular, desired and someone who everyone wants to be or be with. Heather is the opposite of Karen.|
|Karen||This means an unreasonable, middle-aged white woman. This term was originally popularised by the black community on Twitter and it became an internet sensation to describe women who are unreasonable to others. On TikTok, you’ll find a lot of reaction videos to “Karens”.|
|Looted||@Chasinn.loot popularised this slang word. It’s used to describe someone’s outfit or style and is similar to “swag”.|
|Mid||Mid means “mediocre”. People might describe something on the app as “mid” in a disappointing way.|
|Moots / Mutuals||This is what users call people they follow who follow them back.|
|Pick me girl||Pick me girl means someone who acts or claims that “they are not like other girls/guys”. This is often referred to in an attention-seeking context.|
|Simp||According to Urban Dictionary, Simp stands for “Suckas Idolising Mediocre P*ssy”. It means someone who will do anything to be with someone sexually. TikTok has since softened the word and people now use it in humorous contexts.|
|Sneaky link||This is the phrase used when someone hooks up with someone else in secret. Their partner is known as “the sneaky link”.|
|Valid||Valid normally means “acceptable” but on TikTok, it’s slightly different. On the app, this word has come to mean something that is of a very high standard.|
|Vibe Check||This is when a user is assessing the “vibe” or “atmosphere” someone or something gives off. You might see it in a comment saying “you definitely pass the vibe check”.|
Challenges and captions
One of TikTok’s taglines is literally “trends start here”. And they certainly do.
With 45% of Gen Zers agreeing the reason they come back to TikTok is “finding funny or entertaining content”, it’s clear that the app is the home for fun, creative and often viral concepts. The rapid growth of trends on the app has caused the digital language to change and continues to develop.
“Put a finger down if you know what we’re talking about”. If you’re wondering what that means, don’t worry, we’ve got the full details of all the TikTok trends’ slang and their definitions. Before we get into it though, we have one more juicy thing to share.
The Fanbytes TikTok trends newsletter will keep you in the know on what’s hot and what’s not. We want to help brands stay up to date with the moving challenges and language of TikTok, so you never get called out for being “cheugy”.
|Alt TikTok||This is one of the main “sides” of TikTok. It’s a subgenre on the app that includes quirky, unique, memey kind of videos that epitomise Gen Z humour.|
|And that’s on _||This is a way of describing what particular content is about. For example, a user may say “and that’s on self-care” in the caption to put their video in a nutshell.|
|Bussin||This is another word for awesome or great. It often describes something that’s very good. E.g. “hey! Your outfit is bussin.”|
|Catch someone in 4K||This is where someone captures a reaction or behaviour clearly on camera. It does not actually mean 4K but is a reference to how blatant the said reaction or behaviour is. It’s normally associated with someone being “caught out” for something.|
|Check||This has been the source of many TikTok viral trends. Check literally means “check this out”. But it has been used in the context of personal stories, events and points of view. E.g. “Something traumatic that changed my life check”.|
|Crop||This just means “crop your video”. It’s usually seen in the comment section when someone is alerting the creator to information or parts of the video that can’t be seen because of bad cropping.|
|Day 1||A creator who captions their video with “Day 1” is showing they are beginning something new. Whether that is a new health regime, a month-long challenge or even a more humorous approach, it normally signifies a fresh start.|
|Duet||This is a tool on TikTok that allows users to record themselves interacting or reacting to another user’s video. The videos are played side-by-side and normally have #duet in the caption. If you want to know more about how to duet on TikTok take a look at our helpful article.|
|Go little rockstar||SALES the American Indie band created a song that had the lyrics “Pope is a Rockstar” and many people misheard it as “go little rockstar”. The music went viral on TikTok and people used the audio in a wholesome way, celebrating achievements and heroes of all shapes and sizes.|
|It’s the _ for me||This trend started on TikTok with a video of friends playfully insulting each other with the phrase “its the _ for me”. This became a trend that skyrocketed and people used it for their own videos to create humorous content.|
|Lives in my mind rent-free||This phrase was made to appreciate funny memes and videos. People would share a video they like and caption it “this lives in my mind rent-free”. This started spreading throughout TikTok and other social media apps with people using it on a regular basis.|
|Main character||This TikTok trend where people talk about themselves (or others) being the main character in their life. This also branched out to sidekicks and other movie trope characters. It’s now become part of the TikTok language and the term “main character energy” has been popularised.|
|Villain era||@padzdey coined this phrase on TikTok and it has stuck. It means shifting priorities as a person rejects societal pressure. Want some more info? We’ve got a whole article on why brands need to know about the villain era here.|
|Put a finger down||This challenge is similar to the game “never have I ever”. People use audios that will state “put a finger down if …” and they will then respond to the audio. When the user hears something they’ve done they put a finger down.|
|Put you onto something||This means “let me show you something”.|
|Ratio||On TikTok “Ratio” refers to the comments section. Getting “Ratioed” generally has negative connotations as it refers to a user getting more replies than likes on a comment.|
|Shadowban||This word is applicable to all social media channels but is used especially on TikTok. Being shadowbanned is when the algorithm essentially “kicks you out”. This is normally due to breaking TikTok regulations.|
|Storytime||This is where users will share a story of theirs, often in-depth or shocking. Sometimes this is done over a video like a makeup tutorial or beauty regime.|
|Straight TikTok||This is the more mainstream side of TikTok where you’ll find viral dances and massive influencers.|
|Transition||This is the way videos move from one scene to the next. TikTokers have thought up tons of creative transition ideas so this is what they are mostly referring to when they use the word.|
Now you know the trend-setting language, let’s look at what words Gen Z put into conversation. These are verbs and phrases that are dropped into discussions, and most of the time used in real life as well as on TikTok. You know, 50% of Americans admit to using slang without knowing what it means. So read on to find out how you can nod with pride when someone wants to “spill the tea” in Gen Z language.
|Cap / No Cap||“Cap” means “lie”. So “no cap” means “no lie”. You will often hear it in conversation after a statement. E.g. “It was ten foot high - no cap.”|
|Hot girl summer||Megan Thee Stallion coined this phrase and it’s made a comeback in the last year. It’s an inclusive phrase that's about confidence, feeling good, having fun and not caring what others think.|
|Glow up||“Glowing up” is a play on the phrase “growing up” and usually references someone who is attractive after puberty.|
|Flex||Flex essentially means to brag. It is derived from bodybuilders “flexing” and showing off their muscles. It now has more metaphorical meanings. You might hear someone write in the comments of a bragging video “That’s a pretty bold flex”|
|Lowkey or Highkey||Lowkey describes when someone wants to do something in secret. For E.g. “I lowkey am gonna read up on TikTok slangwords in 2022”. Highkey is the opposite: you want to brag about something. For E.g. “I am highkey pumped to get this marketing plan going.”|
|Pushing P/🅿️||Gunna and Future’s new track “Pushin’ P” created this phrase. “P” means positive. Often things have been described as “not P” on the app. So “pushing P” means striving for positive actions.|
|Slay||To “slay” means you’re killing it. It’s used as a term of encouragement and is particularly prevalent among the Drag community.|
|Tea||Tea refers to gossip. “Spilling the tea” is another way of saying “spilling the beans”.|
|Sheesh||This is a relatively new addition to TikTok. When someone uses the word “sheesh” it means they are shocked or impressed by something.|
|Yeet||This was originally coined as an exclamation when throwing something at high speed. It has now become a new word for “Yay!” and means someone is excited.|
Gen Z are not just communicating through words. The world of emojis has a huge part to play and it’s important for brands to know the updated meanings of each one. What does 🧠 mean on TikTok? What does ✨ ✨ mean on TikTok? The answers might surprise you. The definitions have definitely changed and you don’t want Gen Z to think you’re 🤡 if you get it wrong. So let’s go through them.
|Cap means the same in written and emoji language. This is how Gen Z communicates “cap” and “no cap” which means “lie” or “no lie”. “This is the best day of my life 🚫🧢”.|
|✨ _ ✨||The sparkle emojis are used by Gen Z and TikTokers to emphasise a word or phrase. This is often done in a slight tongue in cheek humorous way. E.g. “I am super ✨ excited ✨”|
|🧠||The brain emoji does not mean brains or smart. It’s actually derived from a common phrase that has been used for a long time with the word “head” in it. That’s right, the brain emoji means oral sex. Be careful where you use it!|
|The laughing emoji is SO Millennial. This is the way Gen Z now communicates that they found something funny. This comes from the idea of “dying from laughter”. The skull is used most often but recently TikTokers have started reacting with the coffin emoji too.|
|🤡||The clown emoji is used to signify foolishness or stupidity. Often seen in the comments when someone has done something silly.|
|👁👄👁||This emoji conveys shock or surprise. It has a slightly nuanced undertone too. In Josh Constine’s words, the emojis mean you “feel helpless amidst the chaotic realities unfolding around [you], but there is no escape.” Gen Z’s humour clearly cuts deep and this emoji shows that.|
|👉 👈️||Two fingers facing one another shows hesitation or shyness. The “Is for me?” meme made it popular and it’s sometimes paired with the pleading face emoji.|
|🥺||The pleading face emoji is used a lot by this generation to convey adoration, begging and even a simp.|
|✍️||If you see the handwriting emoji in the comments section it means someone is “writing notes”. It normally is a compliment to the content that it has good information.|
|🎣||The fishing emoji is used to signify someone is fishing for compliments.|
|⌛||The hourglass emoji is used to signify the hourglass figure or simply to tell someone they think they’re attractive.|
|🪑||The chair emoji doesn’t really have a meaning. It was first brought about by TikTok user @blank.antho who made a video to his followers asking them to replace the laughing face emoji with a chair emoji. This caught on and more and more chairs are flooding the TikTok comments section.|
Keeping up with the Zs
Zoomers are the driving force of digital language and brands should be keeping an eye on the ever-changing landscape of TikTok slang. With this guide in your back pocket, you’ll be winning.
Your marketing strategies should engage with this generation through carefully chosen language and content that works. Influencers that are a part of certain communities are the fastest and most effective way to do that. They speak the language of their followers (hence why they have them) and brands would do well to remember this.
If you’re thinking about adapting your language to keep up with the kids of today, get in touch. We know our ✨ stuff ✨.
If you’re looking for more TikTok info, inspo and lingo, take a look at the other savvy articles below.