Millennial’s Dictionary: 19 Terms You Need to Know

Millennial’s Dictionary: 19 Terms You Need to Know

Millennials. Ugh. The worst, amirite*? (Scroll down to learn more about this term).

Okay, maybe we’re not the worst – but we do have some high expectations when it comes to communication. If you’re going to market to us, it has to be on our level. Brand messaging has to be real and authentic – if you sound like us, we’re more likely to become brand advocates.

So, if your business’ target audience contains Millennials (usually defined as people born between 1982-2000), get on board with the following lingo – or fall behind.

(The following definitions are a mix of how I interpret these terms plus what the handy dandy internet tells me)

*AMIRITE – This is what happens when you don’t care about spelling and want to combine the words ‘Am + I + Right’. Usually used when you want to confirm something obvious you just said.

Use it in a sentence:
Millennials have a really unusual way of expressing thoughts and speaking, amirite?!


NSFW – This acronyn stands for “Not Safe for Work”

Use it in a sentence:
This video is definitely NSFW – wait until you get home to watch it.


AF – This (NSFW) acronym is used as a unit of measurement and roughly translates to the word ‘very’ or ‘really’ – basically used as a way to emphasize a concept.

Use it in a sentence:
He has had 20 alcoholic beverages, he’s drunk AF.


KEEP IT 100 – Usually expressed with the ‘100’ emoji, this basically means you are keeping it real. And if you don’t know what keeping it real means, then I honestly don’t know how you even managed to use the internet today.

Use it in a sentence:
He’s a great guy, he keeps it 100 all the time – you can really trust him.


The Struggle is Real – A phrase that encompasses so many things – this is used when you are going through a tough time. This isn’t used for serious tough times – but more so ‘first world problem’ struggles – like getting down your 3rd mimosa when you’re super hungover at brunch.

Use it in a sentence:
The cork in my wine bottle broke inside the bottle and now I can’t get it out – the struggle is real.


FOMO – Acronym for Fear Of Missing Out – which is pretty self explanatory. I hope. People will say FOMO to justify going out and doing things because they don’t want to miss out on the potential fun.

Use it in a sentence:
I spent $500 last minute on a trip to Vegas because all my friends were going and I had FOMO.


BAE – This stupid acronym is the worst and I wouldn’t have included it if wasn’t so widely used. It stands for ‘Before Anyone Else’ – and the kids use it to refer to their significant others. It’s like the word ‘Babe’ but without that second ‘b’. It is only somewhat more acceptable when used to describe an inanimate object.

Use it in a sentence:
Almost acceptable: Tacos are bae.

Usual usage:


V. – This stands for very. If I have to explain that further, i’m going to be v. upset.

Use it in a sentence:
I seriously don’t think I need to come up with an example of this v. simple term.


TBH – This stands for ‘To Be Honest’. Again, a pretty easy meaning to decipher. Generally used right before saying an opinion.

Use it in a sentence:
TBH, I think Justin Bieber’s new album is fire.


GOALS – A word used when you see/say something that you are aspiring to or want to have. Largely used in conjunction with ‘AF’ term.

Use it in a sentence:
Beyonce’s life is goals.


TFW – This stands for ‘That Feeling When’ – and again, you should know what this means without explanation. Usually used when something awesome or weird happens.

Use it in a sentence:
TFW when you unwrap your Chipotle burrito.


TMW – This doesn’t mean tomorrow. It means ‘That Moment When’ – basically used when someone wants to talk about when they realized something or when something worth noting happens.

Use it in a sentence:
TMW you realize you forgot to buy milk after you pour yourself a bowl of cereal.


SQUAD – The word you use to caption your instagram photos of you and your close friends. Basically just the word you use to describe the people you hang out with. (Formerly known as ‘Crew’)

Use it in a sentence:
My squad and I are going to play checkers at noon in the park, it’s gonna be awesome!


DAT [noun] DOE – This phrase is used to emphasize how cool or great something is. If you translated it to normal English, it would read ‘That [noun] though.’

Use it in a sentence:
Have you watched the Broncos play this year?! Dat Defense Doe.


NETFLIX & CHILL – Gonna have to get super creative to incorporate this into your marketing messaging. This term is usually a question being asked by someone who is trying to ask you to come over to their place and “hang out.” Netflix doesn’t even have to be involved. It’s ridiculous. But this is the world we live in.

Use it in a sentence:
Hey I think you’re really pretty and I am interested in you, so Netflix and Chill?


THROWING SHADE: This term is used to describe a situation where someone is talking badly or talking trash about someone or something in a public way.

Use it in a sentence: Taylor Swift created Bad Blood as a way to throw shade at Katy Perry.


SHOTS FIRED – This is reply given directly after a person gives a witty, pointed remark or serious burn towards another person. Basically calls out the beginning of a dispute or a comical back-and-forth banter.

Use it in a sentence:
Person A to Person B: Your outfit looks like you got dressed in the dark Person B: (sad face) Person C: Oooooh, shots fired!


NO CHILL/ ZERO CHILL – This is used to describe someone that is over-excited, freaking out or really intense via their communication or behavior. It’s basically the opposite of being calm/chill.

Use it in a sentence:
He texted me 49 times and called me 10 times in one day, he has zero chill.


Note from the author: I refuse to include the word ‘fleek’ on this list because it’s stupid and needs to go away. And I’m still convinced it’s just a joke.

Need some inspiration on how to incorporate these terms in your messaging? Check out Taco Bell’s twitter – they integrate millennial slang into their tweets and responses and see great results in terms of engagement, follower growth and brand advocacy.

Fitting these terms into your marketing messaging when appropriate will help to humanize your brand, improve approach-ability and ignite more organic engagement from your millennial audience.