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.’