Is a song a “tune” or a “bop”? Is it a “bummer” or “big sad” that you can’t make it to the concert on Friday night? Is that jean jacket “cool threads” or part of a “fire fit”?
Well, it all depends on who you ask. Baby Boomers would staunchly assert the former while Generation Z would insist on the latter. But neither group is wrong, per se. Language is a living, breathing communication tool that morphs over time, and every generation makes its mark on the words we say and use in the mainstream.
As Gen Z comes into its own with the internet at its fingertips and far-reaching social media platforms like TikTok, its unique brand of meme language is spreading like wildfire. That got Coventry Direct thinking—as language evolves, its stewards must evolve with it. So, do older generations have any idea what these young whippersnappers are on about? We decided to quiz baby boomers on popular Gen Z slang terms to find out.
We surveyed more than 1,000 Americans aged 55 to 75 years old. We asked them a series of multiple-choice questions designed to test their knowledge of popular Gen Z terms and phrases. We quizzed respondents on everything from “flex” and “simp” to “I’m dead” and “clap back.” When the results were in, we calculated the percentage of boomers that answered correctly for each term. Definitions were standardized using Urban Dictionary throughout our quiz.
So, did boomers prove their mettle when it comes to Gen Z lingo or did they get it all wrong? Keep reading—we’ll spill the tea, no cap!
For some Gen Z slang terms, boomers slayed. Terms like “that’s lit” and “ghosting” have a nearly 100% accuracy rate among our elderly respondents, suggesting that they may know more than we thought about Gen Z’s linguistic innovations. They even did well with trickier phrases like “gas up” (74.1%) and “clap back” (74.5%).
Seeing so many correct responses was indeed “fire”, a word that 83.7% defined correctly as “something that is really good, amazing, or crazy (in a good way)”. But before our gassed up boomers could flex themselves up to GOAT status, things got sketch in a big way.
In fact, they were lowkey defeated when answering around half of our questions, with accuracy rates dropping down to as low as 39.4%. Words like”cheugy” were confusing, no cap, with 47.4% answering wrong. Only 54.5% knew the Gen Z meaning of “bet”, which is an affirmative response that has nothing to do with gambling or taking risks.
Next, we’ll yeet through the top five terms boomers have mastered and the five they were most stumped by.
Top Five Gen Z words Boomers Know
These five terms must be living rent-free in boomers’ heads, because nearly all of our respondents identified their correct definitions. Here are the top five Gen Z slang words that boomers know:
- That’s Lit
- Get that bread
1. That’s Lit
Imagine you’re sitting around the campfire with your friends enjoying nature without a cell phone in sight. You pull out a corncob pipe and a lighter. When the smell of tobacco becomes strong, someone says “ok, ok, that’s lit!”. Right? Wrong! An overwhelming 96.9% of boomers know that “that’s lit” refers to someone or something that is particularly cool or awesome. You did good, boomers; that’s lit!
Despite what a small fraction of boomers might tell you, “ghosting” is the act of suddenly breaking any and all contact from a person you were interested in for a time. Impressively, after a lifetime of relationships, love, and possibly ghosting past partners, 93.9% of respondents got this right.
3. Get That Bread
92.1% of boomers “got that bread” when they correctly answered that this term refers to gaining money or success through hard work. Boomers are considered one of the hardest working generations in recent times, so we’re not too surprised they nailed this one. Workin’ hard or hardly workin’, am I right?
According to Gen Z, canceling isn’t what you do with the magazine subscription you bought from that crafty door-to-door salesman. It is when a celebrity or friend is boycotted after an unfavorable statement or act. While it’s entirely possible that boomers want to cancel us after making them partake in this Gen Z quiz, we suggest they cancel their unneeded life insurance policies and flex that extra bread.
Boomers certainly slayed this question overall, but 11.5% of respondents were still swayed by incorrect answer options “sketch”, “bop”, and “drip”. While Gen Z can definitely be caught pulling off sketch dance moves to a sick bop in their drippin’ fits, that would NOT be an example of “slaying”—or doing something particularly well.
Top 5 Gen Z words Boomers don’t know
- I’m dead
- No Cap
- Living rent-free
- Pull up
1. I’m dead
Potentially a touchy subject for boomers, this one actually couldn’t be less morbid. Instead, Gen Z tosses out “I’m dead” whenever something is so hilarious that it figuratively kills them. It’s an evolution of dying from laughter, you could say. But Boomers missed the mark on this one with 60.6% answering incorrectly.
2. No cap
It might come as a surprise to more than half of our respondents, but “no cap” doesn’t refer to politely refusing a final drink at the end of the night after a dinner party. Instead, Gen Z linguists use this phrase to emphasize that they are telling the truth when talking about something that is hard to believe.
You want us to use it in a sentence? “You can unlock a lot of cash when you sell your unneeded life insurance policy, no cap.”
This was a fairly hard one, so we don’t blame the 59.5% of respondents who answered wrong. Someone is described as a “simp” in a derogatory way when they do way too much for a person they are interested in and gain nothing for their efforts. You might say that meeting Arnold Schwarzenegger face to face is enough to turn any boomer into a simp for a few minutes.
4. Living rent-free
In the past, living rent-free was what happened when someone chased rock and roll fame and inevitably ended up on a friend’s couch. For the younger generation, it’s when you can’t stop thinking about someone or something—they’re living rent-free in your mind. One of the most difficult questions on our quiz, only 43.4% of boomers got it right.
5. Pull up
When a Gen Zer wants someone to come over for a night of drinking kombucha and silently staring at their own phones, they might text that friend to “pull up”. This slang term depicts the action of that friend pulling up in their car. We’re not surprised that half of our respondents got this one wrong, but we love to imagine the other half “pulling up” to a friend’s crochet party or bingo night, casserole in hand.
From the study above, it seems some boomers are lowkey Gen Z linguists while others are literally shook by most of these definitions. But while it was fun to see the results of this quiz, the truth is boomers have more pressing matters to think about, like selling a life insurance policy they’ve grown out of.
If that describes you, Coventry Direct can help you turn that policy into cash with a life settlement. You can even keep some of your policy’s coverage without paying future premiums. Learn how you can settle for more.