Phrases Gen Z Wants to Erase From the English Language

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Everyone has that phrase that you hear, and it makes you cringe. Whether it is because you hated it when your parents used it, or it was never cool to begin with, there are many phrases that the Gen Z generation is looking to lose in the future. If you want to be able to hang with a younger crowd, omit these things from your list of approved things to say.


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Groovy hasn’t been groovy since the '70s, yet every so once in a while, it tries to make a comeback. Mom jeans, bell bottoms, and low risers might be able to come back into the fashion cycle, but groovy won’t ever be fashionable again. 


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At first, dope meant someone who wasn’t very intelligent. Then, it meant that something was excellent. Either way that you use it, you should stop. Although there are some things where old can become new again, only a dope would continue to use the word dope to signify something cool. 


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Hip used to be the equivalent of being “cool” or popular; it isn’t hip to use it anymore. The only people who are still saying things like “that music is so hip” are older people who are in the nursing home and are discussing how they got there. A hip injury is usually the first step to needing full-time rehabilitation. 


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Calling someone fat has never been nice or appropriate. Somewhere along the way, someone thought that if they used it differently and added a “ph,” it would all of a sudden be okay. The problem with saying a word versus spelling it out is that no one can see which one you are pronouncing, so they just hear “fat,” period. It might have tried to catch on, but there is nothing catchy about saying a word that offends almost everyone. 

Right On

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Right on was a term that went along with groovy as a way to say, “I agree with you.” It is a phrase that you no longer hear anymore, thankfully. Right on isn’t a “here, here.” It is a directional cue that should be used as such.


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Awesome is an actual word in the dictionary, and its definition means that something is amazing or awe-inspiring. Somewhere along the line, people started to use it all on its own the way that they did an artist's name like Madonna or Prince. It just started to be a stand-alone way to say that you think something is great. It might be time to return it to being an adjective in a complete sentence instead of it being the entire sentence.

Burn Rubber

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Burn rubber is a phrase that means that you are taking off fast. It has also been used to signal that you are heading out the door to go somewhere. Originally, it was termed so after cars. Drag racing used to be a thing so people with muscle cars would line up at the stoplight, and when it would turn green, they would speed to get ahead of the next car. In the car's wake would often be tire marks and the smell of burning rubber, hence “burn rubber.” Muscle cars might be making a comeback and being restored around the nation, but there is no restoring the old phrase. It should, like the losing car, be left in the dust. 


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Totally was a phrase that you could combine with other words to make them stand out. It was also used to say, “I agree.”  There was also a time when it was combined with a “like” during the Valley Girl phase. Totally is a word that is so overused that it is totally time to stop using it. Let’s stop combining it with totally rad, totally hot, and let’s totally put it to bed.

Shorty or Shawty

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Shorty or shawty was a term that many rappers used to describe their girlfriends or girls who were friends. It was termed because girls are usually smaller than their boyfriends and as a term of endearment. Calling someone shorty isn’t very endearing and perhaps not very politically correct, either. Boyfriends were never called “Tallie,” which would make sense.


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Another word that was often combined with “totally” was tubular. It isn’t really clear what it meant. It also was never a stand-alone world. Totally tubular, when translated, should mean tube-shaped, but it is nonsensical. There aren’t many people outside of Valley Girls who used it, which is great, and it would also be great if no one used it again. 


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First making a splash in the Clueless area, as-if was a phrase that you used to announce that something was ridiculous and outlandish. For instance, if someone said, “Maddie likes Dave,” Maddie might answer “as-if,” which would actually mean not at all, or as if I actually would. It is a quippy comeback at best, but those who want to be catchy should try something else.


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Crib was a way that many popular rappers described their homes and how decked out they were. It really just started to sound like adult people who couldn’t get themselves together and lived in a pampered state, even in their own homes. Cribs are things that babies should sleep in, not penthouses that are cold and useless. 

Peanut Gallery

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When someone mentioned the peanut gallery, it was a way to diss someone who criticized what you had to say. The peanut gallery is a phrase that is supposed to demean someone’s opinion as not being worthy or valid. 


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Wheelhouse is a relatively new phrase that refers to something being out of someone’s capabilities. In the workplace, when someone says, “That's outside of my wheelhouse,” what they are really saying is that they either don’t want to get involved or they don’t want to be bothered with it or to find the answer. The word itself might sound smart, but it is slightly arrogant and off-putting.


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When you just can’t deal with something, you don’t have the bandwidth. Bandwidth is how music is communicated across channels. When someone says, “I just don’t have the bandwidth,” what they mean is that they don’t have the energy to deal with whatever you are saying or asking of them. It is severely overused and would be better shelved. 

Is What It Is

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Some people would say that “Is what it is” is one of the truest phrases ever spoken. If that is the truth, however, then there is no reason to continue to say it. So, Captain Obvious, no, it is not ironic to say it. Yes, it is dismissive and usually used to downplay something important. It is always what it is, so let it be. 

The New Normal

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Most humans can agree that there is no such thing as normal. Not only should the word normal not be used as much as it is because there is little consensus about what defines normal, but the new normal is a rehash of the original normal. Normal didn’t cut the mustard before, and it is still not cutting the mustard, so maybe both terms should be dismissed. 

Thought Leader

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A thought leader is in the same wheelhouse as wheelhouse. It is a phrase that many professionals use to sound both knowledgeable and cool. It is neither. A thought leader is someone who is supposed to lead thought. Wouldn’t that just be a straight leader without the thought needed?

Step Off

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Step off was a quick in-and-out phrase that meant “step off of your soap box,” that has all but disappeared. It left our consciousness probably because the phrase “soap box” is old and should be retired too. The only time you might want to use “step off” is if someone has stepped on something you want them to get off of.

Read the Signs

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Many phrases catch fire, and after a while, they continue to burn down coolness across America. Sometimes, people use them to make themselves relevant; other times, it is not clear at all why people use them at all. If your phrases fall flat in a crowd, take that as a sign to quit using them. Just because they’re trendy doesn’t mean they should be or that you want to be on the same trend train as others who use them. 

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