Word to the Wise: If You Want to Attract Millennials, Speak Their Language

The millennial generation, also known as Generation Y, is an 80-million-strong group of Americans born between 1982 and 2000 that already exceeds the baby boomers in size and influence. It’s an audience that most every marketer should be talking to. But be careful; they have their own language and it’s not going away soon.

The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, created by Merriam-Webster, recently recognized millennial words such as “selfie” and “bromance.” The message from that update is easy to spell out: Take the time to understand the everyday lingo of this large audience if you want to be in the communication game.

One supreme example of a company answering this need is Taco Bell. Their Irvine, Calif. headquarters has a “Millennial Word of the Week.” It’s a program that serves as a reminder to employees to stay in touch with their biggest fan base.

Since the DMNmedia office is too far away from Taco Bell HQ to benefit from this program, we thought we’d share a sampling of millennial words that every marketer should understand (even if you never say them out loud).


Words Inspired by Millennials’ Social Networking

The never-ending proliferation of new social and mobile tools, from Periscope to WeChat to Meerkat, has inspired many new words.


The action of filming live-streaming video that is broadcast across the globe. It is derived from Periscope, Twitter’s video app. “I’m scoping the Bleachers concert.”


To lure (someone) into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona. From the movie and MTV show of the same name. “Allison was catfished by a cruel prankster.”


A more enthusiastic way to express “yes” online. “Unicode 8  release day includes a taco emoji. YAAAS!”


In Case You Missed It. “ICYMI, the St. Vincent concert moved  indoors.”


Man Crush Monday. “Hey girls, here’s a selfie of me and Ryan Gossling. #MCM #photoshop #thenotebook”


Woman Crush Wednesday. “Zooey Deschanel is adorkable.  #WCW”


Throw back Thursday. “Look at Dad’s mullet. #TBT”

Words Inspired By Millennials’ Need To Be Original

Like many generations before them, millennials want their own language, so you’ll often find basic words shortened or combined with another to make a cray cray point.


A term of endearment, very similar to “babe.” “I love you before anyone else, bae.”


Crazy. “She’s so cray, I have a feeling this party is gonna get cray cray.”


A state of anger caused by the lack of food. “You better not get between me and that Doritos Locos Taco Supreme, I’m hangry.”


A close but nonsexual relationship between two bros. “Looks like there is a bit of bromance between bachelors JJ and Clint on The Bachelorette tonight.”


A run-of-the-mill activity, or person, that has no identity of his or her own. “The Notebook is your favorite film? You’re so basic, Becky.”

On Fleek

On point, glamorous, sharp. “Niki, take a picture of me. My outfit is on fleek.”

Can’t Even

An expression that is used to indicate that the speaker is in a state of speechlessness. “This word is used so ironically, I can’t even.”

Words Inspired By Millennials’ Time Spent Gaming 

Millennials with their game on have created words to express their extreme feelings in non-game activity.


Gamer talk for a celebratory statement such as “woo-hoo.” “I definitely get Fridays off, woot!”


To succeed in something; similar to “killing it.” “Another day. Another slay.”


Gamer speak for “defeated.” “Josh, you just got owned.”

Words Inspired By Millennials’ Music


You Only Live Once. Recently re-popularized by Drake, among others. “I just booked tickets to Burning Man. #YOLO.”


Hyped up for a night of partying. “Play some Lil Jon. Let’s get turnt up.”

Lace Up

A phrase for lacing up your kicks and doing what you need to do. From rapper Machine Gun Kelly’s song, “Lace Up Movement.” “Lace Up. It’s Monday.”

Words Inspired By Millennials’ Desire To Be Funny

The desire to be seen as smart and funny, and appreciation for clever and quick wit, is heightened with the millennial generation. Just sayin’.

Just saying

A way to show you disagree or disapprove, but with a hint of humor. “Have you ever noticed how many people end statements with qualifiers? I’m just saying.”


A shorthand word used to imply honesty. Popularized by TV’s Kardashian family. “That outfit looks great, Bible.”


Too long; didn’t read. “The article about millennials? TL;DR”

Source: Associated Press, June 10, 2015. “Taco Bell execs bone up on youth lingo.” Associated Press, August 4, 2014. “Scrabblers rejoice: 5,000 new words are on the way.”