The millennials’ spotlight is fading, with the last set of millennials turning 23 this year, our attention turns to the next social media led users, Gen-Z. The youth of today who are lovers of emojis, popular culture and designer phone cases, have developed unique slang terms like “Gucci” which doesn’t refer to the designer, but actually means “all’s good”.

We wanted to know how well millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation understand the slang terms their Gen-Z predecessors are using.

Gen-Z Slang Terms

When millennials and older generations were provided with a list of Gen-Z slang terms, 17% of respondents couldn’t understand any of them and only a mere 5% could define every word on the whole list.

From this list, 6 in 10 felt confident that they knew what “lit” meant and 4 in 10 could explain the meaning of “salty”.

The Great Generational Divide

The lack of understanding of Gen Z terms has formed a language barrier between the older and younger generations. We wanted to understand how this barrier would affect Gen-Z in the world of work. Our survey found that 73% of respondents feel that slang is affecting the professionalism of younger generations.

With 44% fearing that the rise in slang is affecting their ability to communicate efficiently with the younger generation altogether, not just in the workplace. 

Who or What’s to Blame?

The majority blame social media (31%) for the rise and spread of slang used by those under the age of 22 years old. Coming in a close second was music with 25%, closely followed by friendship groups at 17%.

Are Emojis the Future?

Of the same respondents, 72% felt that emojis are replacing words.

Considering that 31% blame social media for the rise in this generational language, it sometimes seems that the publicly and often parentally monitored nature of social media cause Gen-Z to integrate emojis and slang to keep their conversations encrypted from older viewers; an idea supported by 43% of adults who believe slang’s entire purpose is for the younger generation to communicate privately amongst their peers, using an exclusive language.

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