Baby Boomers, How Much Do You Know About Millennial Internet-Speak?


By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

When the new technology of the Internet and cell phones was born, it gave rise to a whole new breed of slang. The slang of previous generations was mostly coined to be used in actual conversation, whether over the phone or face-to-face. But Internet slang, used on chat boards, emails and instant messaging, was designed to be written, not spoken. For this reason, it's usually compact, relying heavily on acronyms and "portmanteau" words (two words combined into one). 

You might know what "LOL" and TTYL means. But Internet slang has moved on since those relatively simple, early-90s days. If you haven't kept up, frankly, there's a lot to learn. What would you do with a "fic" -- eat it, read it, or watch it? What do you "ship" -- a package, a couple, or a photo? If "stan" isn't just a man's name anymore, then what the heck is it? 

We're here to help. We've designed a quiz on today's Internet terminology, whether whole words or acronyms. You'll learn what it means to be "basic," and whether it's better to be "basic" or "woke." You'll puzzle over the ethics of "catfishing." You'll learn a lot -- if you're not proving you've already learned it. Whichever the case, settle in and try your luck with our quiz!

A person who likes to stir up bad feelings (usually in a comments section) is called a _______.

You don't have to be online a lot to know this term. "Don't feed the trolls" is a common admonition -- meaning don't respond to their negative comments or posts.


If you have just "bumped" your own comment, what have you done?

If your comment has sunk to a low position or a second or third page, you can move it up by just writing "bump" at the end. Or, if you want to be subtle, you might add new material to your post, but people often see through this tactic as just another way of "bumping."


If someone wants you to DM them, what do they want you to do?

"DM me" is a quick way to ask someone to take a public conversation (like on Facebook) private. Back in the day, we used to say "take it to email" instead, but nowadays most social media sites have direct-messaging capabilities built in.


The most common way of calling someone a newcomer or beginner is to call them a _____.

"Noob" is sometimes rendered with two zeros for the o's ("n00b"). If you recognize the terms "grommet" and "kook," they're from surfing -- "grommet" is a beginning surfer and "kook" a hapless unskilled one.


What is the symbol # called on the internet?

In other contexts, this grammatical symbol is called a pound sign or octothorpe. But the hashtag was born on Twitter, where it made it easy to look up a trending theme or idea. #utility


The expression "______ fail" peaked in the mid-2000s.

The mid-2000s were a period when you either "won" or "failed" on the internet; nothing in between. So the verb "fail" became a noun, culminating in the expression "epic fail" which tended to flash in big letters over gifs of cars sliding into snowbanks or dogs falling off couches.


Which of these is an alternate spelling of "owned"?

"Pwn" is a corruption of "own." It means to dominate or to have mastery over, so the "p" also implies the word "pawn" -- you've been made a pawn or an insignificant tool. (Note that this, like "epic fail" seems to be on its way out).


What does "AMA" stand for? (Hint: It's not the American Medical Association).

Reddit commonly hosts "AMA" forums. A celebrity or notable person fields the questions from the general public.


Under what circumstances would you "facepalm"?

When "facepalm" is written online, it means the reader should imagine the writer performing the gesture of putting their face down in their hand. Often, an asterisk before and after indicates a word stands for a physical movement. *clicks through to next question*


The compliment "on fleek" was originally about which specific body part?

Yes, as part of Western civilization's ongoing excessive-free-time crisis, we developed a compliment specifically about well-groomed, great-looking eyebrows. It's since broadened to mean someone's overall look is in order.


What does "IRL" stand for?

This is often used when you want to meet someone. "Hey, we need to get together IRL."


Is "ship" a noun or a verb?

While a lot of internet slang comes from the Black and gay community, some come from smaller subcultures, like hacker culture or the world of fanfiction writing. "Ship" is from fanfiction, where it means a romantic pairing between characters (that often didn't exist in canon, like Harry/Draco in "Harry Potter.") So, if you "ship" a couple, real or fictional, it means you're eager for them to get together.


Which of these is a popular internet term for "dog"?

Both of these were popularized by the hugely-popular Twitter feed "We Rate Dogs." This is also where the more-than-10-out-of-10 rating came from, e.g., "13/10."


If you like popular, mainstream things -- like Top 40 music and Starbucks coffee -- you might be _______.

The definition of "basic" Has gotten narrower in recent years. It now implies a young woman who likes Pumpkin Spice Lattes, yoga pants (outside yoga class), and brunch.


To be politically and socially aware is to be _____.

"Woke" is sometimes used ironically about middle-class Caucasian people who voice all the right opinions and change their Facebook profile picture following every passing trend. YouTube's "ultra spiritual guy," JP Sears, wears T-shirts with the legend "Woke AF."


How do you admonish someone to be particularly woke?

These sound sillier the longer we look at them, but "stay woke" is the least silly. Fortunately, it's also the one that's correct.


From which language do we get the word "emoji"?

This word seems to be a Japanese adaptation of the English "emoticon," similar to the way the word "fantaji" means "fantasy" in romanized Japanese. However, there's an argument that the whole word is Japanese in origin: "e" meaning "picture" and "moji" meaning "character." Either way, the word is here to stay!


Who would be most likely to use the phrase "totes adorbs"?

This phrase means "totally adorable" and is textbook "basic" slang. Hackers *used* to generate a lot of slang, but lately they seem too busy making elaborate Etch-a-Sketch type pictures out of punctuation marks to invent new words.


What is a "fic"?

"Fan fiction" is a term that mutated quickly. First, it became one word: "Fanfiction." Then, it became "fanfic." Nowadays, an individual work can be referred to just as a "fic."


If you have "catfished" someone, what have you done?

People "catfish" friends and acquaintances for a variety of reasons: to flirt with an unattainable crush, to get honest answers from somebody, or just to enjoy a sense of power over the other person.


To give someone a hard time, or tease them, is to throw ______.

"Throwing shade" came first from drag-queen culture. You don't have to be in someone's presence to throw shade at them; celebrities frequently do it in interviews, in which they make veiled slurs about a rival.


What is the origin of the word "stan"?

Eminem's annoying song "Stan," from 2000, is about a disturbed fan with that name, who sends letters to Eminem, which the rapper doesn't answer in time, leading to a murder-suicide. The simpler explanation is that it's just a combination of "stalker" and "fan," for someone whose fan-hood goes a little too far.


If someone calls you "thick" (or sometimes "thicc"), is that a compliment?

"Thick" can mean "overweight," generally not thought of as a good thing. But it also tends to mean curvaceous and "bootylicious," so it might well be a compliment.


Is it a compliment if someone calls you "the GOAT"?

"GOAT" is an acronym for "Greatest of All Time." You might have seen it on a TV commercial for Twitter, in which famous people debated who was "the GOAT."


Which of these is a synonym for "drunk"?

"Turnt" has long been a vernacular pronunciation of "turned." Its recent use, to specifically mean "drunk or high," probably alludes to the way personality and moods change under the influence.


Finish the phrase "I can't even ______."

"I can't even" is a standalone way of saying "I'm overwhelmed!" Of course, if you want, you can add explanatory material at the end: "I can't even right now!" or "I can't even with you!"


Jumping into the background of a picture you don't belong in is called _______.

Although "live-action photoshopping" would be very cool, the actual term is "photobombing." Lots of photobombs are accidental -- little kids or animals wander into the frame.


What is an "egg account"?

Twitter is represented by a bird. So it makes sense that new users would have an unhatched egg as their profile pic, but some users never replace them. We're looking at you, Boomers!


Which of these is a name for a witty riposte online?

According to Merriam-Webster, this term has its roots in a Ja Rule song, "Clap Back," which was part of the back-and-forth rivalries of the rap world. It's rare for slang to be so easily traced to a source, but this is one case where it is.


Which of these is a term for a person exhibiting disturbing behavior?

We've been needing this one lately, am I right? 2017 really turned out to be the Year of the Creeper.


If you just "left-swiped" someone, where are you?

"Left-swiping" is what you do to profiles that don't fit what you're looking for. We're not sure what happens if you left-swipe someone on the Dark Web, but we'd recommend against it - you might just have put out a hit on them!


Which celebrity's antics sparked a brief vogue for the hashtag "#winning"?

You didn't have to be online to use this. Lots of people, back around 2011 and 2012, were saying "Winning!" in a bright and ironic voice, imitating Charlie Sheen.


Which punctuation mark goes between "TL" and "DR" (for "Too Long" and "Didn't Read")?

The internet is not a place that rewards good punctuation. Which is why it's all the more ironic that someone took the trouble to correctly punctuate "TL;DR" -- a semicolon is the rare but correct mark you'd use if you wrote those words out. And they correctly punctuated an expression meant to say they didn't really care about writing. #winning


If you were sending a racy photo to a friend, you might label it ______.

This stands for "Not Safe For Work." In other words, you shouldn't open it there, at least while anyone else is within peeping distance of your screen.


In actual conversation, how do you pronounce GIF?

It seems this one will never be settled. We think there's a little more basis for the hard g, since the word it represents, "graphic," starts with a hard g sound.


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