TikTok Dictates Which Words Become Trendy

TikTok Dictates Which Words Become Trendy

Ryann Ottman, Editor

The average 8-year-old knows 10,000 words.

The average adult vocabulary is somewhere around 35,000 words.

But, the average person only uses about 7,000 words a day. Using this calculation, however, it adds up that at least 49,000 words are spoken  per week by every person.

Despite all this, what would really be interesting to find out is how many of these words acquired are “trendy” phrases–and, moreover, where do they even come from?

A popular phrase many teens will probably hear while out and about is slay. Ashley Garber, a senior at Elkhart High School, can definitely agree with this, noting that she uses the word on a day-to-day basis. “It’s definitely becoming a bad habit,” she comments jokingly when talking about how her addition to the word. The phrases girl boss, no cap, and even okay boomer can all be considered as pretty popular phrases that this generation knows, as well.

So,where do some of these phrases come from anyways? “I probably first started hearing the word slay on TikTok,” Garber admits. “Obviously, it means something completely in my context, since I’m not really using slay as a term for kill.” But, when actually looking more into it, some do believe the word slay still does have some relation to the word kill–not in the gruesome context, but in more of a ‘”You look killer today!” sort of way. Looking at it in this manner, the term makes a lot more sense. Other words and phrases like girl boss, which was popularized almost a decade ago to characterize a female competing in a male-dominated corporate world, is used by teens today in a mocking, joking tone, as it mostly originated from millennials saying it. This and cheugy, which is another term for someone trying too hard to be “trendy” but tends to be out-of-date, do tend to get more popular off of TikTok, as Garber had mentioned.

TikTok is definitely a place where a lot of trends start, mostly influencing the words and phrases society uses. But, people say a lot of things on the app, so why aren’t those sayings popular, too? Garber suggests it may be because of not what is said but who is saying it. “If a big popular internet person were to start a trend like that, it’d catch on pretty quickly compared to someone with not a large following,” Garber states. 

Phrases used every day are very heavily influenced by media. But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing! Funny, harmless phrases like these can brighten days, and give encouragement to those who need it. But, don’t worry. It won’t be long before they become yesterday’s news, too.