Think going ham on teenspeak makes me tucked? Bet!


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black silhouettes of three groups of different teen people standing and talking to each other


Just days ago, my older kid turned 16. Sixteen! That means in addition to driving us crazy, he’s driving himself and his little brother all over town. Said little brother will be 15 pretty soon. 

These two above-average mensches are full of thoughts and opinions, which lead to many a spirited family conversation. And I have no idea what they’re talking about half the time. 

These fine young gentlemen regularly share stories about this, that and the other random happenings in their world. Inevitably, a trendy teen word whizzes past, leaving me longing for the days of “gag me with a spoon” while trying to make sense of the modern-day lingo. I’m trying to keep up … and it ain’t working. 

Mama is just not hip. Even the word “hip” isn’t hip. I’m a 51-year-old nerd. Good news, though: Nerd is still OK to say. It’s a classic. 

Fortunately help has arrived. No, not from my kids. Because it’s not embarrassing enough for your mom to be writing this column on hot teen jargon, she will call your friends and ask their opinion when you roll your eyes at her, thus upping the embarrassment factor. Oh, well, at least they’ll have good stories for their therapists someday.

I present you with my Teen Lingo Decoder, courtesy of the kids I didn’t give birth to who regularly raid my pantry. (Mama might not be hip, but she does buy the good snacks.)

Bet — While not new, bet is still plugging along as a common term for yes or cool, used when you are too cool to simply say yes. “When asked by his talented mother if he was ready to leave for baseball practice, Leo replied, ‘Bet!’ ”

Fit — Stand down if you think this means how easily your pants button at the waist. Fit is short for outfit in this case. Your look or fashion choice is your fit. Fit is so popular it has sprouted an offshoot in fit check, for when you model your outfit for your friend to rate. “When Davis requested an opinion on his fit, he asked Leo to do a fit check.”

Drip — Nope, not the sound of water droplets escaping into the sink because your sons didn’t turn off the faucet properly due to their arms being tired after their WWE-style family room wrestling match. Drip is another term for a sharp or snazzy outfit. Conveniently, we can combine drip with fit and fit check. “Leo had such high ratings for Davis’ fit whilst doing a fit check he remarked, ‘Yo, I like the drip.’ ”

Pressed — If you think this refers to the button-down shirt and suit your son wears every day to his thriving law practice, you would be wrong. For cool teens, pressed means ticked, pissed, agitated and all the other emotions a teen might feel when, say, their mom repeatedly asks them to help with this column. “After what seemed like the one-millionth time his loving mother gently requested just two freaking minutes of his attention, Leo got pressed and slammed his bedroom door.”

Tucked — Could this be your son’s freshly pressed button-down shirt he wears daily to his successful dental practice? Not in this case. However, Dr. Wonderful could be tucked at the end of a grueling day of cavity filling and root canaling, because tucked means tired. “Leo fell asleep the second his keppele hit the pillow. Sweet boy was tucked!”

Going ham — I would like to tell you this is the title of my journal entry about my brief, scorching hot summer fling with St. Louis’ own Jon Hamm. I cannot though, mainly because ham and Hamm are spelled differently. Going ham means giving your full gusto, going all in, no matter the activity. “With finals coming up, Davis and Leo’s non-helicoptering mom suggested going ham on their study guides instead of going ham on Xbox.” 

Mid — Not at the top nor at the bottom because it’s in the middle, or mid. It’s average, you know, just sort of medium. No sparkle or pizazz, and no garbage either, it’s just basic. “While Davis loves tacos, he thinks his mom’s homemade tacos, which include a myriad of toppings — for which she went to three stores to make sure everyone had exactly what they wanted — are just mid, even with her secret ingredient: love.”

Gas — In my house, this could mean a few different things. Fuel for the car or the grill. Results of mom’s homemade tacos. Or for the teens, good. Not too far off from the phrase, “It’s a gas,” used generations ago, meaning it’s a good and fun time. The modern-day gas is, like, really, really good. “When Jeff brought home Taco Bell for dinner, Davis and Leo gobbled it up and declared it was gas.”

Fire — See gas

Slaps — It’s a favorite pastime of siblings the world around, slapping an unsuspecting victim with whom you share an address. You don’t want to be slapped. But you do want to be a part of something that slaps. See the difference? To today’s teens, “slaps” is a term of great praise, often referring to food. This comes in handy when your teen eats six meals a day plus snacks. “Leo and Davis are incredibly lucky to have a mom who exclusively grocery shops while hungry because she always buys food that slaps.”

Shmacked — This sounds suspiciously close to the word smacked. Interestingly, both words could really leave a sting. Shmacked is slang for drunk, wasted or three sheets to the wind. “Since Davis and Leo are way underage, their adoring mother has made it quite clear that if they get shmacked, they will get smacked.”

Guess what? You’re cool now, practically an expert on the teen terminology. You’re welcome. I mean, you’re like totally awesome. Like, fer sure.

Columnist Amy Fenster Brown is married to Jeff and has two teenage sons, Davis and Leo. She volunteers for several Jewish not-for-profit groups. Fenster Brown is an Emmy Award-winning TV news writer and counts time with family and friends, talking and eating peanut butter among her hobbies.