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The Top Ten Need-to-Know Slang Words for 2020

Do you know your ‘fit’ from your ‘flex’? How about your ‘GOAT’ from your ‘extra’? Chances are if you’re under 20 and reading this post, you probably do. If, like most people, you have absolutely no idea what we’re talking about, then don’t worry, because at Brighter English we’ve been scouring the internet to bring you the strangest and most surprising slang terms of 2020. If you’re looking to impress your friends with your serious vocabulary skills, read on for our top ten, need-to-know words from this year.

1. Salty (adj)

Now, you might think that this is a word best reserved for how you like your chips, but you’d be wrong. We actually love the new 2020 take on this common food descriptor. Instead of just referring to a taste, it now also describes an emotion. If you say you’re feeling salty, it means you’re annoyed, angry or bitter. This rollercoaster of a year has given us plenty to be salty about, so what better time to add it to your vocabulary?

e.g. ‘Being stuck at home all day is making me really salty.’

2. Spill the tea (expression)

We think this expression probably originated from ‘spill your guts’, often shortened to just ‘spill’, which means to tell someone something newsworthy that’s going on in your life. If you ask someone to ‘spill the tea’, you’re asking them to share their exciting gossip or news with you.

e.g. ‘I heard you got asked out on a date. What happened? Spill the tea!’

3. Extra (adj)

This is a word you may have heard before in a different context. Usually, if you ask for extra it means that you want more of something, like one more slice of toast for breakfast. We also often see it at the beginning of words for extra emphasis (see what I did there?) as in extra-special, extra-large and extraordinary. In 2020 however, it’s also being used to mean ‘very flamboyant’, ‘over the top’, or to say something or someone’s ‘a bit too much’.

e.g. Did you see that crazy, fluorescent pink prom dress she was wearing? It was so extra!’

4. Thirsty (adj)

If you see ‘thirsty’ popping up in comments on your social media, be warned as it may not mean what you think it does! This year we’re seeing it being used in a whole new way. We all have that one friend who overshares online, posting endless selfies and updates. In this context, ‘thirsty’ refers to someone who is so desperate for attention that other people find it creepy or embarrassing. It definitely doesn’t mean that someone needs a drink and it’s definitely NOT a compliment.

e.g. ‘That’s the seventh Insta update he’s posted today. He’s so thirsty.’

5. Fit (n)

The adjective ‘fit’ already has two meanings in English. We can use it to say someone looks attractive, or that someone’s in good physical shape and does a lot of sports. However, in 2020 it’s being used as a shortened version of the noun ‘outfit’, which means the clothes somebody’s wearing. If you’re wondering if that’s because teenagers these days are too lazy to pronounce the extra syllable, the answer is probably yes, but we’re going to be kind and say they’re just really busy.

e.g. ‘You’re wearing such a cute fit today. Where did you get it from?’

6. High key (adv)

You’re probably picturing a piano or a singer in your head right now, so you might be confused when we tell you that this has nothing at all to do with music. This year, we’re seeing ‘high key’ used as an intensifying adverb in much the same way that we use ‘very’ or ‘really’ in a sentence. If you say something is ‘high key amazing’, you think it’s ‘really amazing’.

e.g. ‘I’m high key looking forward to the concert on Saturday.’

7. Shook (adj)

If you’re familiar with the word ‘shaken’ used as an emotion, you won’t find this slang adjective too problematic. People often say they feel shaken when they’ve gone through a traumatic experience such as a break-up or car crash. Feeling ‘shook’ is pretty similar, except the emotions can range from fear or anger to extreme happiness.

e.g. ‘What’s happened? You look really shook?’

‘I just found out I got into my dream university.’

8. I’m dead. (expression)

If someone sends you this message, then don’t panic! I can assure you that the person who wrote it is still very much alive, although they may be choking on their own laughter. If someone says they’re ‘dead’, it means they’re laughing hysterically at something and can’t stop.

e.g. ‘Did you see that hilarious meme going around the school? I’m dead!’

9. Flex (v)

In the standard English we all know and love, flexing is something that bodybuilders do with their muscles. In 2020 however, it’s what people do when they get an expensive pair of shoes, buy a hot tub or receive pay rise at work. The key ingredient to flexing is to make sure that everybody knows about it, usually over social media. To flex essentially means to gloat, boast or show off to others. People who are sick of seeing their friends flexing online have even started creating ‘no flex zones’ to hang out in and be their more authentic selves.

e.g. ‘I’m just flexing in my brand new Adidas trainers.’

10. GOAT (acronym)

We’re kidding, not like that. Although this four letter acronym looks like we’re shouting the word ‘GOAT!’ at the top of our voice like a crazy person, it actually comes from the first letters in the phrase ‘Greatest Of All Time’. People use it when they want to say that something or someone is absolutely incredible or the best.

e.g. ‘The new iPhone is GOAT.’

If you’ve managed to get to the end of this post without scratching your head in disbelief, then we’re very impressed! For extra English practice, try picking out your three favourite words or phrases from our list to use in a sentence today. Whether you’re looking to learn the coolest new vocabulary, travel the world or pass an exam, why not get in touch with Brighter English to find out how we can help.

Which slang word surprised you most? Let us know in the comments!

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