Teens talking - NZ Dads


Teenagers have a language all their own. It grows and develops and no word is popular for long before it’s replaced by a new abbreviation or acronym. When these terms and phrases make the transition from online and text usage into real life conversations with your daughter can get a little confusing. Today we’re going to decode ten of the most popular current slang words used in New Zealand.

  1. Hater

A hater is a modern day heckler who takes to social media and public forums to express their dislike of a person or thing. While the targets of such hate speech are generally celebrities or public figures haters can also turn their attention on friends and other people their age. Some haters go as far as creating ‘hate groups’ where more than one person shares their negative opinions of an event or person. This behaviour is cyberbullying, a form of bullying that is now infamous for its contribution to youth suicide rates.

  1. Noob

This word often spelt with two zeros in the place of o’s, N00b. A N00b is similar to a newbie which is somebody that has little or no experience and is a new comer to a game, idea or interest. However the term N00b has negative connotations and is regularly used as a putdown when a person demonstrates their lack of expertise. It is also often used to refer to somebody who, unlike a newbie, refuses to learn or will never learn the skill or game they are attempting.

  1. Troll

 If your daughter calls you a troll she probably isn’t insinuating that you live under a bridge and terrorise sweet little billy goats. What she’s most likely referring to is the new type of troll, an internet dwelling troll that terrorises others for fun. A troll is a person who intentionally posts inflammatory comments on forums and social media in order to illicit a response from others and begins an argument. Trolls enjoy the attention and will stoop to incredibly low levels, including making threats of bodily harm to celebrities and YouTube personalities in order to attract attention.

  1. Yolo

Some consider this term a modern day carpe diem as the acronym stands for ‘You only live once’. Made popular by a hit song the term is now used to justify the behaviour of teenagers. Although it should stand for enjoying life and doing what you love instead the term is associated with often foolhardy and dangerous behaviours of youth. The term has been widely criticised for glamorising and perpetuating recklessness. In New Zealand especially the term is often used as an excuse or reasoning for youth drinking.  

  1. Basic

 Basic is a relatively new insult used to describe people who are deemed uninteresting and unworthy of time or attention. Somebody who’s basic is often seen as being stereotypical and having nothing original about their personality, appearance or interests. Used to shame those who enjoy mainstream or popular activities there is lots of controversy around the usage of this word and the insinuation that liking things that are popular is something to be ashamed about.

  1. BFF

An old-y but a goodie the term ‘BFF’ has been around at least since I was a wee one. There are many variations, Biffle, BFFL, the list goes on and at the end of the day it all means the same thing. Best Friends Forever. It’s a sweet little acronym that girls tend to adorn anybody they’re particularly fond of. This not so teenage girl right here has even made up her own BFF acronym with her long term best buddy. For nineteen years now I’ve had an OGSSBFF and no, I will never tell anybody who isn’t her what it means.

  1. Bae 

No, I didn’t spell Babe wrong. Bae is a whole new way to let somebody know how you feel about them. Originally used as a pet name for partners in the hip hop and rap industry ‘before all else’ or ‘before anything else’ has now become a way to express how much a person loves anything from another person to a slice of their favourite pizza. It’s the ultimate expression of fondness but in New Zealand at least it’s also a complete laughing stock. While a person might genuinely be fond of the object they label a bae I’m pretty sure it’s not creeping into any NZ wedding vows anytime soon. 

  1. Swag

 Initially used to describe how a person presents themselves the term swag has somehow transformed into a multipurpose word used in a similar way to the term ‘cool’. There is lots of dispute about the origin of this word, with some claiming that in the 70s it was an acronym for the phrase ‘Secretly we are gay’. It can be used as a compliment or as an insult the meaning of which is usually hidden in the way it’s said.

  1. Selfie

The ‘selfie’ is a phenomenon of digital photos. A person turns the camera around and takes a photo of themselves rather than taking it in a ‘traditional’ manner. They feature heavily on social media where a person can share who they’re with, where they are, what they’re doing or even how the look ‘just out of bed. No make up’ almost wordlessly.

  1. Totes

Abbrevs are totes cray these days. With texting, tweeting and social media putting emphasis on getting your point across in as few words as possible abbreviations are the way to go. They tend to be pretty easy to decode on paper but when they make the transition into real conversation they can catch you off guard. It’s not just long words that get cut down to size either some of the most popular abbreviations such as ‘totes’ and ‘cray’ just drop a couple of letters out of totally and crazy.

Regardless of how much teen talk you understand there is one blanket rule for parents. Don’t try any of this at home. You’ll probably sound totes cray and there’s no need to prove you aren’t basic, we all know you’ve got swag. I mean, YOLO and all but you’ll never live it down.

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