What Is My Gen Z Colleague Trying To Say?

Gen Z terms explained painfully by a millennial (we tried!).
What is my Gen Z colleague trying to say?

From the very first grunts and gestures, language has served as humanity's bridge, morphing across continents, reflecting economic realities, and evolving alongside our ever-changing cultures.

You might find yourself a little lost when you hear your Gen Z colleague say something like “Yo no cap, that Hokkien mee we had for lunch was bussin’. I’m a stan now.”

Erm, what? Don’t worry, here are 10 terms to help you connect with your younger colleagues.

Gen Z terms explained

1. In My _____ Era


  • “I’m in my villain era” (someone who has begun to establish their own boundaries and prioritise their own well-being)
  • “I’m in my gym rat era” (someone who has started going to the gym)

Definition: A specific period in your life that reflects your behaviour and the events occurring at that time.

Origin: This one goes to Taylor Swift and her Eras tour which sparked a social media and marketing sensation.

2. Ate


  • ”That dress! OMG girl, you really ate with that!”
  • “He really ate with his graduation speech.”

Definition: To do a good job or to do something with flair.

Origin: A term tagged to AAVE (African American Vernacular English) and LGBTQ+ communities from the 2000s

3. Cap/No Cap

Cap / No Cap Gen Z term definition

4. Delulu


  • “Don’t be delulu. You can’t create a time travel machine.”
  • Also recently popular on TikTok: “May all your delulu come trululu, because being delulu is the solulu. Absolulu.” (Translation: May all your delusions come true. Because being delusional is the solution. Absolutely.) Used to express the idea that you can navigate tough situations more easily by deluding yourself with ‘if’s’ and ‘but’s’.

Definition: Short for delusional.

Origin: Made popular by the K-Pop fan community to dispel rumours spread by other fans about their favourite celebrities.

5. Stan


  • “We stan a loyal man!” (we love when a man is faithful to their partner)
  • “We are ultimate Taylor stans; we’ve gone to every show of the Eras tour.”

Definition: To be a big fan of someone or something.

Origin: This comes from a song of the same name by Eminem. It can be used as both a noun and a verb.

6. Bussin’

bussin Gen Z term definition

7. Bop


  • “I love the new single from Ice Spice, it’s such a bop!”

Definition: An earworm, or a song that makes you want to dance.

Origin: Bop, short for bebop or rebop, is a fast-paced and rhythmic jazz style from the 1940s.

8. Mid


  • “That $12 chicken rice was mid. I don’t understand the hype at all.”
  • “That rollercoaster was mid at best. I’m never riding it again.”

Definition: Average or unexciting. Not great but not bad. Can also be used to emphatically claim that something is overrated.

Origin: Shortened version of middle or medium that gained traction on social media in the 2010s.

9. Gives Me The Ick


  • “You know, he really was so attractive, but something about the way he chewed his vegetables gave me the ick. I don’t think I can date him.”

Definition: A trait or mannerism that disgusts you or turns you off.

Origin: Some may attribute the term to Love Island in 2017, but it has also been culturally attributed to popular TV series, Ally McBeal (some of us may have grown up watching this).

10. Ls & Ws


  • “They started banning people from using hats in school. Such an L move.”
  • “What a W for the school – we can wear whatever shoes we want now!”

Definition: Short for Losses and Wins. They describe whether something, usually an action, is good or bad.

Origin: A term that is rooted in both sports and gaming where losses and wins were recorded as L/W on a player’s or team’s record. This then culturally evolved into “let’s get this W” among teammates, which then seeped its way into the general vernacular to describe actions.

As time passes, language keeps flowing – slang morphs with time, reflecting culture and its influences. Today's hit song becomes tomorrow's classic, and soon, even the young will feel the generation gap. Staying informed and being able to connect with others is key, but there are other ways to do so besides using the same slang – remember how awkward it was when your parents tried to be hip?

    Jun 25, 2024
    Marc Ashley Alexander
    Nicholas Koh
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