Life Relationships Beyond ‘selfies’: the modern lingo you need to know

Beyond ‘selfies’: the modern lingo you need to know

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Every year the online Oxford dictionary gets a couple of new additions that would have been next to indecipherable a year earlier. This year’s entries include humblebrag, binge-watch and amazeballs, but they’re already slightly behind the eight ball.

Thanks to the Internet, the English language is manipulated beyond recognition on a daily basis. Here’s an essential list of the new words and phrases you need to know in order to stay current (at least for the time being).


In a nutshell: a descriptor which roughly translates to “drunk”, it can also be succeeded by the word “up”, as in “turnt up” or “really drunk”. Those in the process of getting inebriated may say they are “turning up”. Basically, if you hear your underage kids telling their friends they’re planning on getting turnt, you should probably be concerned.

In a sentence: “I’m getting so turnt at the club tonight”, “I was so turnt last night” or “We are turning up at this party.”


In a nutshell: an ancronym meaning “Not Safe For Work”. Basically it’s web-speak for warning friends and colleagues that the content you’re sending them contains nudity or profanity and should not be viewed in the office.

In a sentence: “This video is hilarious but totally NSFW.”


In a nutshell: the most appropriate way to refer to the users of social media site Twitter.

In a sentence: “Good morning, tweeps. Here’s a video you might like…”


In a nutshell: Remember when the word “boo” was used to denote one’s significant other? This is basically the modern update of that. It’s the slang form of “babe” and carries with it much emotional gravitas, except when used ironically.

In a sentence: “I love you so much bae.”


In a nutshell: to “throw shade” on someone is to trash talk them, diss them or badmouth them. It can encompass everything from shooting someone a dirty look to openly criticizing someone. It’s not exactly a positive term.

In a sentence: “My best friend has been throwing shade at me lately for not spending time with her.”


In a nutshell: A belfie is a selfie (read: a photo of oneself taken by oneself) of one’s behind. Yes, you read that correctly.

In a sentence: “Kim Kardashian takes so many belfies I might have to unfollow her on Instagram.”


In a nutshell: FOMO, an acronym for the phrase “Fear of Missing Out”, has been around for a while but remains the most accurate way to describe that feeling you get when your friends are having fun without you. FOMO can be used to justify unusual activities like attending a distant acquaintance’s pizza party on a work night or being glued to your phone throughout a family dinner.

In a sentence: “I’m exhausted but I know I’ll get serious FOMO if I don’t go to this thing tonight.”

Basic bitch

In a nutshell: A somewhat derogatory way of describing a woman who has zero personality and conforms to a certain dull standard of behavior. Basic bitches are categorised by their need to quote Sex and the City on a daily basis, post pictures of their food to Instagram, and sing along to Taylor Swift songs.

In a sentence: “Sally’s favourite movie is The Notebook, she’s such a basic bitch.”


In a nutshell: An acronym for the phrase “shaking my head” – conveys the notion that someone is disappointed or disgusted by something. If someone is “smh” at you, that’s not a good thing,

In a sentence: “Some people on Facebook are so clueless about current affairs, smh.”


In a nutshell: Denotes someone who is thoughtlessly negative about another person or thing. A hater takes pleasure in exposing or highlighting other people’s flaws and ignoring their achievements. Saying “haters gonna hate” after facing criticism is basically akin to taking the high road.

In a sentence: “Everyone told me my new shoes were ugly but I don’t really care because haters gonna hate”, “Ignore the haters and stay strong” or “haters to the left”.

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