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9 Student Slang Terms Decoded

9 Student Slang Terms Decoded

As an educator, you’re exposed to the interests of your students on a daily basis, and while you can try to keep up, popular culture often moves too quickly for most of us to stay up to date. With the introduction of social media, slang terms pop up seemingly overnight and into the vocabulary of your students.

To help you decode what your students are saying when you overhear their conversations in the classroom, we’ve created this handy guide to a few of these terms that have most likely made your way into your students’ vernacular (and, for bonus points, try slipping these into your own conversations with students, and you’ll be the coolest teacher on the block in no time).


Robert E. Blackmon

“Tea” is all about the hottest gossip that’s going around. This term means that your students are looking to know what the latest details are on the juiciest piece of information.

For example:

“Give me the tea.”

“What’s the tea, sis?”

“Tea please.”

And, simply, “Tea.”


Spice Girls

“Mood” is often used to describe how someone is feeling, usually with a picture or meme. It’s used to talk about how relatable something is, summed up in an image.

For example:

Your students might say: “Wow, what a mood!” when they see this adorable GIF of a dog falling asleep to describe how tired they are.

Julia Jennings



Thankfully, this one is not about what you may think—“dead” is used to describe something that is incredibly funny or good that causes you to use it like a hyperbole.

For example:

“Did you hear that joke Johnny told in class? I’m dead.”

“I’m dying—check out this meme Rachel just sent me.”


Mackenzie Ziegler

“Shade” is used to describe when someone is being directly (or indirectly) disrespected. One can “throw shade” (insult someone) or “be shady” (indirectly insult someone).

For example:

“Man, Gina is sure being shady today.”

“Did you just see John throw shade at Tom?”


Netflix/Scout Productions

Anything that is mainstream is often considered “basic.” Students will often use the word “basic” to describe a thing that is very popular, like pumpkin spice lattes or certain fashion choices.

For example:

“She just ordered a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks—that is SO basic.”



When people are being “extra,” they’re often being overdramatic or over the top with their reactions, maybe even a diva at times.

For example:

One would call Mariah Carey’s behavior in this GIF as being “extra,” because she’s getting wheeled to stage in a chair.


The term “Stan” refers to someone who is an extreme fan of a celebrity (which was coined by Eminem in a song by that title). This kind of person will go great lengths to obsess over that celebrity.

For example:

A “Stan” might wait outside of the venue where his favorite artist is playing for seven hours in the pouring rain. How many of us can say we haven’t done this?



You’ll often hear the term “cancel” used when an individual is dismissing or rejecting someone, something, or an idea.

For example:

“I don’t like Justin Bieber. He’s canceled.”


The term “cringy” is most commonly used when viewing something on social media or the Internet. It’s used to describe the feeling of embarrassment.

For example:

If you’ve ever watched America’s Funniest Home Videos, you’d know that those clips may often be described as “cringy.”