Here are the words that shaped pop culture in 2021

The year was full of new and revived slang phrases. When so many different communities are able to interact on social media it’s only natural for their influences to coalesce to form new words and diffuse old ones. 

In 2021, Gen Z, millennial, LGBTQIA+, Black and internet culture shaped the way we spoke to each other. The language experts at Babbel shared the slang that influenced pop culture the most this year. 

Snatched: The colloquialism is a way to compliment something or someone for being cool or on-trend. The term originated as slang in the ’90s in New York’s Black drag and ballroom scene. The prevalence of wigs and weaves in the culture caused people to refer to something so good it would “snatch your weave off.” 

Gucci: When people say they’re “feeling Gucci,” they’re not referring to the luxury Italian fashion brand. Rather “Gucci” means something is good, positive or cool. 

Shook: The term refers to feeling shaken or shocked by something. While it was popular in ’90s hip-hop, it saw a revival in 2018 when comedian Christine Sydelko went viral for saying, “I am shooketh.” 

Stan: The word is slang for a superfan or fanatic. It originates from Eminem’s 2000 song “Stan” that features an obsessive fan of the same name. The term became a way for people to describe their support for celebrities, artists and brands. 

Cheugy: Pronounced chew-gee, the word was popularized by Gen Z on TikTok. It’s essentially a way to poke fun at older generations, particularly millennials, and their outdated trends like skinny jeans and side parts. 

Skrt: The word is an onomatopoeia for the sound of a tire quickly stopping in its tracks. Thus, it is often used as a synonym for “stop.” Skrt has been used in the Black community since the ’80s but became popular again in 2021 thanks to trap music. 

No cap: Another term from the Black community, stating “no cap” is a way of saying “no lie” or insisting you’re telling the truth and not “capping” or lying. 

*Chef’s kiss*: Most people recognize the Italian gesture (al bacio) where someone pinches their fingers together and kisses them. Now people use *chef’s kiss* to insert the gesture into text speech when something is satisfying. 

Soft launch / Hard launch: A “soft launch” is a way to subtly introduce a new romantic partner on social media, often with an unassuming tag or photo credit. A “hard launch” is abruptly announcing a new relationship without any previous soft-launching posts. 

Yassify: To “yassify” a photo is to apply so many image filters from the FaceApp that the person is unrecognizable. It has been criticized by the body acceptance community because the alterations are typically used to uphold conventional beauty standards. The phrase has its roots in the terms “Yas” and “Yas Queen,” which comes from ’80s LGBTQIA+ and drag culture. 

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