Gen Z consists of anyone born between 1997 and 2012, which means the older end of Gen Z is now in the workforce alongside millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers. (Credit: Christina Morillo, Pexels)

As college graduation season descends upon us, you could be facing an influx of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed newcomers in your office – and if you’re not used to being around Gen Z people, prepare for a culture shock. Gen Zers don’t often use punctuation or capital letters when they type. They do TikTok dances in public places. Some of them are even wearing Crocs again. And to top it all off, they have a language of their own.

From “stan” to “sus,” this generation’s zealous use of slang words might leave you scratching your head. That’s why we made a cheat sheet. Just study these 20 terms, and you’ll be shooting the breeze with Gen Z coworkers in no time – no cap. 

1. Lit

  • Definition: A term used to describe something you find amazing, exciting or cool. 
  • In a sentence: Free lunch in the office? That’s lit!
  • Hint: It can become very un-lit when used excessively.


  • Definition: Stands forFear Of Missing Out.” If someone has FOMO, they are afraid of being left out of events or activities. 
  • In a sentence: I come into the office every day because I have such bad FOMO.

3. No Cap

  • Definition: One typically follows a statement with “no cap” as a way of saying that the statement is true and that they are not lying. 
  • In a sentence: He called out sick 23 times this year – no cap. 
  • Hint: If you can replace “no cap” with “for real,” that’s a sign you’re using it correctly. 

4. Salty

  • Definition: If you’re feeling salty, it means you’re feeling bitter or irritated, usually about something specific.
  • In a sentence: Are you still salty that she got the promotion and you didn’t?

5. Flex

  • Definition: To show off or boast.
  • In a sentence: Good luck at your interview today – make sure you flex all your achievements.
  • Bonus Points: Say “Weird flex but ok.” The phrase, made popular by countless memes on the internet, is typically used as a response to someone bragging about something you consider an odd thing to brag about. However, when opportunity strikes, you can even use it when someone is not necessarily bragging. For example – let’s say your pen runs out of ink and you ask if anyone has an extra. Your coworker says, “I always carry extras.” This would be an appropriate time to respond, “Weird flex but ok.”

6. Ghost

  • Definition: Used exclusively as a verb, this term means to ignore someone’s calls, texts or emails.
  • In a sentence: I sent him three emails last week but he completely ghosted me. 

7. Stan

  • Definition: A die-hard fan or supporter of someone or something. Some people believe the term is a combination of “stalker” and “fan.” However, others say the term was coined by Eminem in 2000 with his song “Stan,” about a man who has a psychotic breakdown when his idol doesn’t answer his fan mail. 
  • In a sentence: She’s a huge T-Swift stan – let’s try to get her tickets.
  • Hint: It can also be used as a verb. For example, you could say, “We stan a Greta Gerwig movie.”

8. Lowkey

  • Definition: Exactly what it sounds like. Something subtle, discreet or not widely known.
  • In a sentence: She told me she’s lowkey thinking about quitting after the holidays. 
  • Hint: While you might be tempted to use a hyphen, remember that Gen Zers typically opt out of using punctuation marks.

9. Highkey

  • Definition: The opposite of lowkey – something obvious or widely known.
  • In a sentence: I’m highkey so excited for happy hour – it’s been a long week.

10. Clout

  • Definition: If someone has clout, it means they have fame, popularity or influence. 
  • In a sentence: Abby’s Tiktok went viral and now she thinks she has so much clout. 
  • Bonus points: If it’s obvious that someone is trying to gain clout by befriending influential people or by showing off their wealth on social media, you could mockingly refer to that person as a “clout chaser.”

11. Yeet

  • Definition: This word is most commonly used as a verb, and means to throw something very hard or very fast.
  • In a sentence: Can you yeet this water bottle into the recycling bin?
  • Hint: Sometimes, young people exclaim “Yeet!” to show enthusiasm or excitement, or for no reason in particular. Just roll with it. 

12. Shade

  • Definition: Subtle criticism or disrespect. This term is often used in the context of “throwing shade” – when someone passive-aggressively snubs someone else. 
  • In a sentence: Do you think Chris was throwing shade at me in the meeting?

13. IRL

  • Definition: Stands for “In Real Life.” This one is typically used to differentiate between online and offline experiences, so you could use “IRL” to specify whether a meeting will be held in person or over Zoom.
  • In a sentence: We can do a call if you want, but I think it would be best to discuss this IRL.
  • Hint: This one is always typed out – do not say “IRL” out loud.

14. Sus

  • Definition: “Sus” stands for suspicious. It is used to describe something that you find questionable. Its popularity stems from “Among Us,” an online murder mystery game in which users type “sus” to call out other users they believe are secretly the “imposters.” It can be used to describe people, places, food, situations…really anything.
  • In a sentence: Don’t order from the place across the street, their sushi is really sus. 

15. Dead

  • Definition: Not what you think. “Dead” is often used in response to something that you find very funny. The indication is that you thought this joke was so funny, you died of laughter. Because Gen Z likes to exaggerate. 
  • In a sentence: I just watched a video of a cat riding a skateboard – I am DEAD. 
  • Bonus points: If someone sends something funny over text or Slack, swap out the overused, outdated laughing emoji for a skull emoji instead. 

16. Slap

  • Definition: If you say something “slaps,” that means you really enjoyed it. This word can be used to describe food, a song, a movie, a book or anything you feel passionate about. 
  • In a sentence: Thanks for buying lunch – this burrito bowl slaps!
  • Hint: Just don’t overdo it. Sure, the new soap in the office bathroom might smell good and you might be excited about it, but you don’t have to run around telling everyone how much the new soap slaps. 

17. Extra

  • Definition: You might be used to the word “extra” being followed by another word (extra fries, extra time, etc.) But in Gen Z language, the word “extra” is used as an adjective all on its own, typically to describe unnecessary, over-the-top or excessive behavior.
  • In a sentence: Don’t you think a baby shower for a fourth kid is a little extra?

18. W or L

  • Definition: W stands for “Win” and is used to convey a victory. L stands for – you guessed it – “Loss” and is used to convey defeat. Both can be either typed or said out-loud.
  • In a sentence: Today’s game was a big L. But don’t worry, we’ll get the W next time.

19. Tea

  • Definition: Tea means gossip. Often, the gossip is particularly juicy or sought-after.
  • In a sentence: I heard they got fired unexpectedly – what’s the tea?
  • Bonus points: To share your tea with others means to “spill the tea.” So if you have a juicy piece of gossip you can’t keep to yourself, invite your most trusted coworker to your cubicle so you can “spill the tea” with them. 

20. Bet

  • Definition: Not at all related to gambling. This word is commonly used as an affirmative response in place of “ok” or “sure.” Additionally, it is sometimes used to express enthusiasm, and can replace words like “cool” or “great.”
  • In a sentence: I asked Jane if she wanted to get lunch and she said “bet.” That’s a yes, right?