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Noobs! Do you even know what the kids are saying? Modern slang revealed!

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Tiffany Eckert
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KLCC

To parents, it may seem that their offspring speak a totally different language, especially when conversing online. Modern lingo may sound like alien terminology—but slang is the same linguistic tool that has separated teens from adults for generations. And as we discovered, the kids in Eugene like it that way.

“Rolling...” (A tape recorder starts.)

The bee’s knees."

"Groovy."

"Bitchin’."

"That’s sick.”

From the jitterbug era up until—well yesterday— those were slangs used to describe something that’s really great. According to the Urban Dictionary, slang is an "informal term or phrase that stands for or means something other than its literal meaning."

And it’s not always complementary.  

Dip stick."

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Credit Tiffany Eckert
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Everyone thought she was the bee's knees.

"What a Cad."

"You’re a Hoser."

"Wack.”

Lingo is ever evolving, which puts new generations at a bit of a linguistic advantage when it comes to getting the gist of slang.

“There’s some slang that just make conversations, ya know, just like funnier- I guess? Hi, I’m Maisie and I’m almost 16 years old.”

Maisie Young, who lives in Eugene, agreed to be my source for teenage slang.  She told me, “I think it’s also used to like keep the generation, like, closer to each other. Kinda like a big inside joke, almost.”

The gaming website Solitaired.com claims only 1 in 4 Oregon parents actually get their kids’ slang. With that thought in mind, we tested Maisie's dad’s knowledge of online jargon and slang.

“Hello, I’m Joe. I’m pushing 40. It feels heavy.”

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Credit Tiffany Eckert
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"Sick moves, brah!" Modern teens at a skate park in Eugene.

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Credit Tiffany Eckert
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These cats are groovy, man.

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Flickr
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The fictional Canadian brothers Bob and Doug McKenzie, hosts of Great White North, made the term "hoser" a household slang in the 1980s.

Full disclosure, I've known this teen since she was born. In their living room I told her, “Maise, you’re going to start texting your father. Just text a word and then we'll see how well your 40-year old dad gets where you’re coming from.”

“Okay,” she said.

We listened as a text pinged Joe’s phone and he read, “'Scheeeeesh.'" Then we watched him act out what he thought it meant. ‘Wow, what did I do wrong?’ And— you say, ‘sheeeeeesh?’”

Maisie frowned, “Um, no actually. A lot of times when you're like— having a conversation with somebody and they say something funny— you go like, ‘sheeeeeeesh.’”

Another text chimed in for Joe and he read it out loud. 

Salty?"

With a knowing grin, Joe replied, "Well, why do you feel so mad or upset? I just asked you to clean your room. Why are you so salty?”

I asked the teen, “What do you say about that, Maisie?” Reluctantly, she said, “Um, well, that’s pretty much how you use it, I guess.”

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Credit Tiffany Eckert
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Slang words have always had a place in modern language. They tend to separate the hipsters from the squares.

Ding! ding! ding! That’s one point for Joe.

It was time for the next try, so Maisie texted another slang challenge. Joe opened it and read aloud, “T-L-D-R."

"I have no idea what that means,” he admitted.

Maisie answered, “It means Too Long, Didn’t Read."

This slayed Joe. “Ha! Ha Ha! Oh, I bet a lot of kids send that back to their parents or aunts and uncles," he croaked, "'cuz it’s like, I don’t want to read your seventy-seven character message!” This got a laugh out of his daughter.

Maisie shot her dad one more slang by text. "Dub?" he read, rather hesitantly.

Maisie explained, “Dub just means WIN. Like "W." You know, like, 'let’s go get a dub today.'"

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Credit Tiffany Eckert
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Lisa Kelm knows a "bitchin'" scene when she sees one.

Then Joe tried it out, “Oh yea, like ‘you wanna go to the mall? Dub!”

“No!” Maisie corrected.

“No? why not?” asked Joe.

“Cuz, it’s not used as a ‘yes.’ It’s used as a ‘win,’” Maisie repeated.

Her dad tried again, “I know. If you asked me, ‘you wanna go to the mall?’ I would say, ‘when!’”

“No! No! ‘Win’ not ‘When!’ ‘Win,’” she said.

“Oh, a dub!” Joe said, as if just waking.

“Oh dad!” Maisie exclaimed—exasperated.

“I get that,” Joe claimed.

Um—that last one was more like a tank.

But to be fair, Maisie’s dad knows more slang than the average Joe. He knows that on a rating of 1 to 10, dime is the best something can be. And thirsty means an intense want and desire for something-- usually attention or sex.

Joe also gets that using slang as a kind of secret code is hella normal. “I mean it’s how kids grow up,” he said. “They push boundaries. They use their minds to create something that is different than what their parents had—because they don’t want to be the same as them.”

Then I asked, “So, Joe did you learn anything here-- at your dining room table with your daughter today?”

“Yes, I did,” he laughed.

“And," I asked, "how do you feel Maisie? Do you think you have a cool dad?”

“Uh, yea,” she said. “I’d say he’s a pretty cool dad.”

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Credit Tiffany Eckert
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Maisie Young (left) with her mom, Sarah Yapp, brother Clyde and noob dad, Joe Young.

“In your own slang, how would you describe him?” I urged.

“Um, maybe a noob,” said Maisie.

Joe isn’t sure what that means and well, that's totally gucci with his kid.

Think you know what time it is? Are you dialed in? Totally Got this?

Test your knowledge of online/gaming slang in this Solitaired.com quiz   

Tiffany joined the KLCC News team in 2007. She studied journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked in a variety of media including television and daily print news. For KLCC, Tiffany reports on health care, social justice and local/regional news. She has won awards from Oregon Associated Press, PRNDI, and Education Writers Association.
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