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How Your Customers Speak - OdinText Indexes Top Slang and Buzz Words for 2018 Understanding how your key customer demographic communicates about your category, and your product is key in learning how to communicate with them most effectively.

One of the posts I’ve come to enjoy most, yet also the most difficult to write, is our annual list of Slang words. OdinText has been indexing unusual/new/slang termsnow for three years, and so we have a good understanding of not just which slang and buzz words are most popular, but also how terms are moving up or down in popularity.

The interesting thing about all trends including buzz words and especially slang is change. Just because you think you know what one word means today, doesn’t mean that same word won’t have a completely different meaning tomorrow. For this reason, even trusted sources such as Urban Dictionary can fail you, because they list the most popular definition first, not the most recent ones. To understand slang you really have to understand movement. If a slang word has been in decline for a while, and picks up in usage, it may well be that there’s a new meaning for it.

Understanding what a new slang word means is often more difficult than it sounds. Context in any comment is often not enough, and various comments may use same term very differently. Neither is relying on any one source such as Urban Dictionary sufficient, far from it we’ve found. An approach of triangulating on the most current definition by considering multiple sources including online videos/song lyrics, internet meme’s, social media comments and, considering date of each are often the best way to arrive at a more current definition. Often it’s the success of a certain artist and how they use the word which propels it. If you default to looking something up in Urban Dictionary, know that the #1 ranked most popular definition may well be quite dated and incorrect.

ABOUT THE INDEX: We define our slang/buzz word index as terms or phrases that have entered public awarenesss, usually not at the general population level, but often, though not always in important youth or online subgroups. These terms occur in social and mainstream media, are often used by artists, youth and sometimes in digital speak. This year we have started allowing a few more general and political terms into the index. You can think of the terms in the index as terms that are some of the most dynamic in either proportion of use/awareness, and also sometimes in the way they are defined, as many of these have multiple meanings and are in a state of ongoing flux. The majority of the words in our index can be classified as slang.

#10 Dog & Yeet

Dog. As with most slang has multiple meanings, some of the more well known are “A man who can’t commit to one woman”, “a close buddy”, and to “fornicate” among others.  A newer meaning, and the reason we believe helped dog just make our top 10 this year is that dog is becoming more general in use, and may soon be more gender neutral, as female rapper Toni Romiti says “If he a dog, I’m a Dog too!”

Yeet, Tied for 10th this year is a term we indexed and started tracking back in 2016 also in 10th place then. It’s popularity was due to a new dance move and and internet video meme. You can check out our definition from last year here. But as with other slang it tends to transform and take on multiple meanings, including being used simply as an expletive connotating excitement.

#9 Bruh

Bruh reached #10 back in 2015/2016 and has been holding steady and even gaining slightly. There are now even some female or gender neutral off shoot variants like Bra, in part promoted by advertising related to breast cancer (someone who supports you when you have breast cancer). The meaning of Bruh has been changing for sometime from a term of endearment (brother), to Bruh?! Meaning  “Oh no… why did you do that?!”

#8 Bet

Bet moved from #18 to #8 this year. That usually has to do with new usage and/or inclusion into some popular lyrics or meme. Moving from a simple term indicating agreement, e.g. “want to go to the movies?” “Sure, Bet!”, bet has been changing to just mean “yes”, and then ironically the total opposite of agreement, meaning doubt and sarcasm or simply the opposite of what someone wants or No. “Yo can you help me clean my room” “Bet (leaves walks out of door)”. It has even come to be used as a sort of replacement to Yolo., but the newest and most popular meaning currently is as the opposite of the older meanings, a negative sign of disbelief. Basically a sarcastic "No".

#7 Woke

Woke moved into 20th place about a year ago and has also increased in popularity tremendously this year. Woke means being intellectually aware, on point and in the know, but can have broader meaning as well. “After taking that class in feminism, he’s really woke to gender issues”

#6 Snowflake

In the past we’ve purposely kept political words out of these lists. Political terminology is more mainstream, and behaves differently from youth slang. That said, these terms too enter the general vernacular seemingly from nowhere and become very popular, perhaps now more than ever. So this year we’ve decided to include a few of them. So in 6th place (and 2nd) we have political words this year.

Snowflake is generally used to describe liberals who are overly sensitive and too easily offended by some general term or belief that doesn’t take into account that everyone is as individual as a snowflake.  Though it is sometimes used to describe anyone who is overly sensitive.

Unlike most of our slang terms that tend to skew more urban and lower income, this one actually skews slightly higher income and older, and is in fact often used to describe millennials or Gen Z.

#5 Fleek

Fleek did a good job in maintaining its position this year, but is still down from a high (our #2 word) at the end of 2015. Fleek skews female quite a bit and generally means ‘on point’ “on fleek” and is often used when describing eyebrows.

#4 Fetch

Fetch climbed  from 6th place back at end of 2015 and has maintained at 4th place this year. After “Bae”, it’s the second most female scewed slang term we track. This term was popularized by the movie Mean Girls and means cool/chic.

#3 Dope

Dope moved up 3 from last year. Used a number of ways (see last years definition), including as a synonym for Lit, basically high in quality or mind blowing

#2 Fake News

Here’s our other political word in this years list. Again, not like slang in a number of ways including fact that it skews older and higher income. Still it hit 10th place on our new term index list last year even though we decided not to report political terms. As the name suggests, this term denotes political propaganda and unfactual unscientific information which is becoming ever more prevalent online.

#1 Lit

Holding at #1 this year, Lit is literally still “cool” for now. It was 4th place back at beginning of 2016, it may be that its position gets challenged by Dope or something else later this year.


Top 5 Gainers

Each year these trendier terms compete with each other, some enter our list temporarily and then go off to die, sometimes to be resurrected years later, others get so mainstream that they enter our common lexicon and earn a place in the dictionary.

Here are the 5 terms which moved up the most over the past 12 months.

Fake News

Mainstream media grabbed a hold of this word this past year and our indexing classified it as the biggest single mover in our index. I’m guessing you’re already well aware of this political term. If not check out the Wikipedia definition here


Our second biggest upward mover this year was Snowflake. It will be interesting to see how this one does over the longer term.


So you might say Bitcoin is a brand or product name, but this term which is neither slang not political still made our list because of its fast movement from obscurity to global mainstream. I wouldn’t be totally surprised if the term is split, morphed and transformed into some alternate meanings in the future.


Finally, our fourth biggest mover of the year are one of our slang terms. It’s interesting as far as slang terms in its positive connotation of reaching a more enlightened level of cognition.


Fifth biggest mover this year was Bruh which continued to expand and change in meaning (see above) after being somewhat down last year.

Top 6 Losers

Just as there are winners, there are also losers. Here are the 5 that dropped the most this year.


Looks like ‘Fetch’ may have peaked. It was always a bit of an outlier in terms of slang in that it was so closely tied to a single movie ‘Mean Girls’ and while obviously feamale oriented, but also unlike most slang less ethnic and higher income.


Swag seemed to come and go last year. It just never gained the foothold needed for stickiness.


This somewhat odd female slang term with a definite online meme-ish component had its peak two years ago and has decreased in popularity by half each year since.


The meme-able dance move known as ‘dabbing’ seems to have spawned and given way to a term of similar origin “Yeet”, which has taken on more meaning than dab. While the future looks dim for this  term, its use together with marijuana could give it more life in the future.


Another big loser over the past couple of years is “One” meaning goodbye. It may be time to bid “One!” to ‘One’.


A somewhat surprising sudden drop to Bae this year is accompanied by lots of annoyance by those using the term which refers to "boyfriend" or "girlfriend"

Bonus Terms to look out for

Here are some fun new terms that crept onto our radar/index this year, though they didn’t enter our top list but we’ll be continuing to track their movement if they increase in usage over the course of the year. They could suddenly become even more popular, as they are on an upward movement though not quit as extreme as our top 5 above.


Squad may end up being replaced by ‘gang’. Since calling someone a “friend” simply is never cool enough, this term has come to replace the now somewhat corny ‘squad’. Believe it or not, 1 friend is a "gang".

“gang gang”, saying gang twice has also become popular, as plural and often used as a hashtag on social media, especially twitter #ganggang


This term which can be traced to Philly originally meant joint, then morphed to mean literally anything, usually any noun, person place or thing (but quite often a sexy woman )


Cringey or cringy is a fun term meaning something that makes you want to cringe. It has often been used in regard to internet videos, especially with amature home made videos on youtube by very young performers sometimes younger siblings.


We noted “bra” as a feminine derivative of sorts for bro, meaning “someone who’se always there for support'


Awesome, cool, or good. Here’s an example of Guzzi paired with Gang mentioned above.

gucci gang (Lil Pump)


Savage, means "Brutal yet awesome", a useful combination ;)

"Dad" & "Mom"

Not what you think. Rather new, this term is given to the highest ranking person in a given environment. For instance, if 4 guys are playing an online video game, the "Dad" is the person with the highest level game character.

These are our top movers for the year. There are many other pop terms of course. These are US focused and more general in nature. If you put additional lenses, such as geography, age, gender, category and source of data in play, other quite different terms may top the list.

Of course, unless your industry is dead, monitoring the way your stakeholders talk about a topic may be very dynamic without involving too much slang or buzz words. Often which competitors are mentioned, what items are seen as benefits or barriers, and which emotions surround these topics can be just as interesting or even more so.  Longitudinal voice of customer data can be found in a variety of sources from phone logs, emails, chat logs, surveys and social media, to name just a few.

If you’re curious about tracking what your customers say, how they say it, and how you can use that to better connect with them and even predict their future behavior including satisfaction and repurchase please reach out. We're happy to show you what Your Data +OdinText looks like.


Do You Speak Teen? OdinText Announces 2nd Annual List of Top 10 Slang Terms

How Text Analytics Can Help Marketers Move at the Speed of Slang It came as no surprise to me that one of our more popular blog posts of 2016 was a list of the 10 most fashionable slang terms as identified by OdinText.

After all, keeping up with youth-speak or slang is a constant challenge for marketers, researchers and parents, alike.

Today we’re going to repeat that exercise and offer our readers a chance to test their teen-speak proficiency with our second annual list of the top slang terms!

But first, a note of caution for anyone who wants to stay abreast of trends…

The Problem with “Dictionaries”

I’ve noted in previous posts that one of the primary weaknesses of most text analytics software platforms is that they rely on custom, static “dictionaries” to process what is being said.

These dictionaries must be updated manually and cannot identify new slang or other terms as they emerge. So the onus for staying current falls entirely on the researcher. If you fail to identify new terms and update your dictionary, you can quickly miss out on key information, trends and changes taking place in your market.

In contrast, one of the unique benefits of using OdinText is that it can identify and quantify important new terms—acronyms, new product names, technical and scientific jargon, as well as slang and buzzwords—without help from the user and often before these terms appear in sources like the Urban Dictionary or Wikipedia.

The Internet has dramatically increased the speed at which language changes, as well as how quickly those changes spread. In fact, every year hundreds of new slang words and phrases that originated online are added to the terrestrial dictionary.

If you’re using a text analytics platform that relies on a rules-based approach, you’re putting your organization at risk of falling behind because language has become a moving target.

A Quiz: How Out of Touch Am I?

Let’s take a quiz…

Using OdinText, below we’ve compiled a list of the most popular slang terms circulating today, rank-ordered by frequency of mentions.

You’ll note that a number of these terms appeared on last year’s list, but have increased or declined in popularity. (This is useful to know and track for reasons that are hopefully obvious.) Other terms that made last year’s list like “bruh” and “bazinga” didn’t make the cut this year.

In addition, many of these terms have more than one meaning depending on context, and some may even be used differently by different demographic groups or even within the same demographic group.

Lastly, a note about “Trumpisms”…

Last year, the term “Trumped”—a verb closely associated with “schlonged” and whose meaning is too vulgar to explain here—appeared with enough frequency to make our list. This go-around, we decided to exclude it along with a number of other new terms associated with politics (i.e. new words like “Fake News”, “Alt-Right” etc.).

Now, without further ado, here are the top 10 slang terms circulating today!

Without skipping ahead to the definitions, how many do you know?

  1. Lit
  2. Bae
  3. One
  4. Dope
  5. Fetch
  6. Fleek
  7. Dab
  8. Swag
  9. Fam
  10. Yeet


BONUS QUIZ: Words to Watch

The list above contains slang terms that are already popular and have mainstreamed. But what about those terms that are just starting to bubble up and may be en vogue next year? We’ve included some rising stars here. Do you know what these terms mean?







The Definitions:

#10 “Yeet”

Like “dab,” “yeet” started as a dance craze on Vine popularized by a 13-year-old named Lil Meatball. The term has since evolved to become something of an exclamation or hoot of excitement, and may be used as a verb meaning to cheer for someone.

#9 “Fam”

This one really took hold over the past few months. Rooted in “family,” “fam” refers to those with whom one shares an extremely close bond, whether by blood relation or just as often not.

#8 “Swag”

Last year we speculated that “swag” might be on its way out. Boy, were we wrong! “Swag” mentions increased nearly 100% over last year. Derived from “swagger”—the supremely confident style of walking or strutting—“swag” has come to refer generally to an urban style and look associated with Hip-Hop. It could relate to a haircut or shoes, or simply an attitude or presence that exudes confidence and even arrogance.  Example video: Soulja Boy Tell'em - Pretty Boy Swag

#7 “Dab” or “Dabbing”

“Dab” is up almost 50% over last year. Originally inspired by a dance move popularized in a 2014 video by Atlanta rapper Skippa da Flippa, “dab” or “dabbing” is often used as a sort of victory swagger (“Keep dabbin' ... let the haters hate ... Dab on”). Check out this YouTube clip for more. By the way, “dab” or “dabbing” also refers to a relatively new but increasingly popular form of marijuana consumption.

 #6 “Fleek”

“Fleek” appears to be falling out of favor. The term, which is most often associated with eyebrows thanks to Kim Kardashian, dropped 14% compared to last year. Still popular among younger women, “fleek” is a synonym for another popular slang phrase, "on point"—basically looking sharp, well-groomed or stylish.

#5 “Fetch”

You may have heard that this one was on its way out, but our data shows “Fetch” has actually doubled in popularity since last year. An adjective synonymous with “cool” or “awesome,” “fetch” originated with the cult hit “Mean Girls”. Ironically, in the film the term never catches on despite one character’s dogged attempts to popularize it.


#4 “Dope”

Are you as surprised as we were? Most of us oldies know this one, because it was around as far back as the 60s. In those days, “dope” referred to drugs—particularly marijuana—but it evolved in subsequent decades to also become synonymous with “bad” (i.e., tough, sexy and/or generally cool). The lattermost use—“dope” as in “cool” or worth appreciating—is seeing a resurgence, which may be connected to the recent Hip-Hop nostalgia trend. “Dope” as a term for drugs also withstands, but today it’s used primarily in reference to heroine. [Above trailer from the 2015 Hip Hop nostalgia movie called 'Dope']

#3 “One” or “1”

Another holdover from last year’s list, “one” or “1” doesn’t always signify a quantity. It can also mean “One Love” and is used frequently in parting (like “goodbye”). The term increased in popularity 32% over last year.

There is a second meaning and reason however it appears here and there on the internets as a purposeful typo to indicate excitement or just a form of leet speak acknowledging the “!1” Phenomenon


#2 “Bae”

Twice as popular as last year! “Bae” is a pet name for one’s significant other. It may have been derived from “baby” or “babe” (like “B” and “boo,” which also showed up in our analysis) or it could be an acronym for “Before Anyone Else.”


#1 “Lit”

“Lit” is the current “it” word! Since we reported “lit” last year, the term has skyrocketed 700% in popularity! Moreover, our analysis shows it’s evolving, with variations like “litty” cropping up. Lit can refer to being intoxicated (“He’s lit.” “Let’s get lit.”), but the much more frequent use we see is to indicate that something is exciting, cool or worthwhile, as when used in a phrase like “Come on down to the party, it’s lit!”


Bonus terms…


This one’s a popular meme, but the term’s meaning varies slightly depending on the context. Generally, “shook” refers to a state of fear or of being shocked or stunned. It can also refer to a state of being deeply affected by an experience (implicitly traumatic) or even the way one might be momentarily struck by the beauty of a romantic prospect ala Elvis Presley’s “I’m All Shook Up.”



To succeed, overcome, “kill it” or dominate. It’s not a far cry from the old, “The comedian slayed the audience,” but slay can refer to anything from performance to appearance (especially sexual).



To be completely, totally, thoroughly serious.



In spoken conversation, this can sometimes be the lazier cousin of “sup” (“What’s up?”), but what we’re referring to here is actually akin to the slang term “sister” (meaning my female comrade, not my actual sibling).



Another word for “lit.”


Don’t Let Words Fail You!

I hope you had some fun with this quiz and maybe picked up some new vocabulary, but I’d like to emphasize that slang isn’t the only terminology that changes.

Keeping on top of new market entrants, drug names, etc., is important. If you don’t have a technology solution like OdinText that can identify new terms with implications for your business or category, make sure that you at least set up a manual process to regularly check for them.

Until next time, one!


Ps. See firsthand how OdinText can help you learn what really matters to your customers and predict real behavior. Contact us for a demo using your own data here!


About Tom H. C. Anderson

Tom H. C. Anderson is the founder and managing partner of OdinText, a venture-backed firm based in Stamford, CT whose eponymous, patented SAS platform is used by Fortune 500 companies like Disney, Coca-Cola and Shell Oil to mine insights from complex, unstructured and mixed data. A recognized authority and pioneer in the field of text analytics with more than two decades of experience in market research, Anderson is the recipient of numerous awards for innovation from industry associations such as CASRO, ESOMAR and the ARF. He was named one of the "Four under 40" market research leaders by the American Marketing Association in 2010. He may be reached at and he tweets under the handle @tomhcanderson.