'It doesn’t mean what you think it means.' Decoding 14 Gen Z words that Millennials just don't... understand.

There are a lot of things I don't understand about the older generation. 

Why Millennials insisted on having floppy bangs in the 2000s is one. 

That generation wearing enough metal bangles on their wrists to sound for a large army is another thing that has also always perturbed me.

But what's really stuck with me isn't the questionable fashion choices they've made, but rather the things they've said.

And continue to say.

Watch: The secret to connecting with your millennial. Post continues after video. 

Video via Mamamia.

One recent example is when my millennial and Gen Z colleagues argued over what "out of pocket" means. 

To young'uns, this obviously means that a situation is crazy, wild, or that someone is out of line and behaving inappropriately. But to the generation who were using it first, it means an amount of money you've lost in a transaction.

A fairly simple misunderstanding right?

You guys, it wasn't. It started an all-out war.

(To be fair, the phrase 'out of pocket' originally came about in 1908, so I don't even know what generation that was?)


Anyway, to put a stop to any more intra-generational fighting, I wanted to provide some other buzzy Gen Z words that millennials just don't understand, because trust me... it doesn't mean what you think it means.

What does 'auramaxxing' mean in Gen Z slang?

Auramaxxing is similar to the self-care practice of aiming to become the best possible version of yourself.

TikToker Frankie Meki has been taking his followers through his auramaxxing journey. He says that having a "good aura" is "a new term for being cool", and that auramaxxing is "knowing who you are as a person first before you try to show other people".

To help with your auramaxxing needs, you can also turn it into a game, with some people aiming to score "aura points". For example: You add points when you do things that contribute to your aura, like going for a long walk, journalling and daily meditation sessions. You subtract points from your aura if you do things that jeopardise your aura, like texting your ex or sleeping in till the afternoon.

The points system is solely dependent on whatever you want, but your aim it to get as many points as possible.

What does 'calm' mean in Gen Z slang?

Hearing a Gen Z teen tell someone else to 'calm' seems pretty self-explanatory, but it is... really not. 

Essentially, it was slang taken from the UK and means something is great! Confusing, right?

For example: If I tell you that I purchased a new pair of shoes, you might tell me, "That's calm." This lets me know you think my new purchase is cool.


What does 'based' mean in Gen Z slang?

This is a word you use when you agree with something, or when you think someone is a genuine person.

Basically, if I call you 'based' I think you're a pretty cool chick/dude/human being.

What does 'ate' mean in Gen Z slang?

Bizarre concept but essentially, being told you 'ate' and 'left no crumbs' means you won in an argument or while roasting somebody.

For example: Imagine you're brawling (verbally, of course) with a friend who hits you right at the core with an insult. Someone might say, "You ate that and left no crumbs." God, I'm cringing as I type this.

What does 'drag her' mean in Gen Z slang?

It means to roast someone or to tell them off. I know Urban Dictionary says it means to "execute or torture someone by dragging them with a rope on horseback" but IT'S REALLY NOT THAT LITERAL, OKAY?

For example: When you see two people brawling on the internet, you might assume one side is correct and want to support them by saying, "DRAG HER!!"

What does 'mother' mean in Gen Z slang?

The title is not reserved specifically just for the person who birthed you, guys.

If someone calls you mother, it's the highest of compliments. Originating in the ballroom scene among queer men, women and non-binary people, the term 'Mother' literally means you look up to someone as the matriarch or as the head of something. 

For example, let's say you want a celebrity like Lana Del Ray or Adele or, hell, even Rebel Wilson, to know that you think highly of them, support their work and look up to them as influential figures, you might say, "She's mother" in reference to her.


Don't overthink it, by the way. Sometimes colloquial language really is as simple as it seems.

What does 'NPC' mean in Gen Z slang?

Translated from gaming group chats, it means someone is a 'non-playable character' and *literally* means any character in a game that is not controlled by a player.

But bringing this into the real world, you might refer to someone as an NPC when you think they are boring – in the sense that they lack independent thought or blindly follow other people's opinions.

Someone you might've once called a sheep, you can now refer to as an NPC. Not that you would, because that would be unkind. But examples help us learn, so there you go.

What does 'simp' mean in Gen Z slang?

If someone's called you a simp, it proooooobably means you're in a relationship and head over heels for your partner. Because in slang, a simp is someone who goes out of their way to impress the person they like.

It's meant to be an insult, but I personally think it is sweet (unless you do too much for your beloved, but honestly, how much is TOO much?!).

What does 'bet' mean in Gen Z slang?

If you agree with plans your friendly neighbourhood Gen Z has made, say 'bet'. 

If someone tells you something that you agree with (or at least understand), say 'bet'.

If you're in an argument with your partner and they've told you that you're the worst person on the planet, say 'bet'.

You're welcome.

What does 'triggered' mean in Gen Z slang?

To be triggered means someone is offended or their feelings are hurt. It is usually a word used to insult someone who constantly victimises themselves.


FYI, if someone tells you that you're "triggered" in an argument, they're being mean to you.

What does 'off the charts' mean in Gen Z slang?

I actually think this phrase has been around since before I was born, but I was told a lot of Gen X'ers and Millennials don't understand it (?) so... 

Go back to a time when you'd be really excited about something — it could have been a new job offer or a good grade. Now imagine telling a young person about your exciting new achievement. That's where'd they respond with, "That's off the charts!"

They're excited for you!

What does 'pop off' mean in Gen Z slang?

It basically means to go crazy. 

Every time I've used this phrase, it's been because my best friend has told me about an argument they've had. Instead of saying, "Wow buddy, you sure showed them!" I say, "POP. OFF."

I know Urban Dictionary says it means to talk carelessly or irrationally... but it... doesn't. At least not in my books, or in any of my Gen Z friends' books.

What does 'rizz' mean in Gen Z slang?

Remember when your mother would call a neighbourhood boy charming, or smooth? It's kinda the same thing with rizz. If I tell you that you have rizz, it means you have embodied the meaning of being smooth and flirty and charming, all in one.

For example, I'd call a guy flirting at a bar a rizz master (not to his face, because that's embarrassing! Side note: PLEASE don't tell people they have rizz if you're over the age of 20. Let's leave this one for the young Gen Zers...).


What does 'no cap' mean in Gen Z slang?

If I say "no cap", then you BETTER believe everything I'm telling you is true, because that translates to, "I'M NOT LYING. I SWEAR IT ON MY MOTHER'S LIFE."

Not literally, but you get what I mean.

What does 'mid' mean in Gen Z slang?

This is an insult that was popularised around the release of the Barbie movie, which starred Margot Robbie.

People REALLY had the audacity to say she was mid (probably due to their own insecurities), and it means that someone is... not all that attractive. If there were a scale from one to 10 on how hot someone is, referring to someone as mid would mean they're about a 5/10. The mid-way point. Not hot. Not unattractive. Just... mid. 

It's mean to say this, so I suggest DON'T. However, I will note that I heard my little cousin refer to her food as "mid" so clearly this term applies to ANYTHING that we deem average.

Read more: The internet just tried to call Margot Robbie a 'mid'. Here's what that actually means.

I hope I have been of some help to the millennials and Gen Xers who perhaps feel a bit lost navigating Gen Z language. Go forth and be bold my friends. You've got this – no cap.

This article was originally published on October 23, 2023 and has since been updated with new information. 

Feature Image: Getty.

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