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There’s something about analyzing slang that makes me feel like I’m doing the most. But language – including and maybe especially slang is about power, context, and culture.

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I love slang – I think it is often located among those who exist in marginalized positions – and therefore find ways to describe their reality, in nuanced and often awesome ways. That said, cultural appropriation is a real thing, and it exists in language. And with the ability to engage in diverse  culture instantaneously over this little thing called the Internet, slang words in America – many of which came to have cultural connotations that exist in Black American socio-cultural meanings – hit the main stream and were done for.

1. YAAASSS (However you choose to spell it)

Yaaasss – which a lot of us are quite fond of, is to express being pro-something. Usually something worthy of importance and getting loud. But once this one hit the mainstream, everything became a source of YAAASSS. “I got my coffee -YAAASSSS.” “I am going to the bathroom – YAAASSS.” Sigh.

2. On Fleek

The funny thing about on fleek is that it was used for years before it got mainstreamed. But it went straight into the hellfire of annoyance the minute everyone started to use it. All of a sudden everything was on flee. But what people don’t understand is if everything is on fleek, then nothing is on fleek.

3. BAE

This one is tough because I still really like the word BAE. But it’s a little insane how everyone and everything became BAE to everyone and everything once BAE got into mainstream use. Just like on fleek, if everything is BAE, then nothing is BAE. Give it a rest people.

4. Swag

I can’t even take anyone seriously who used swag anymore on a regular basis. Shut it down people. The word was dead and buried once Justin Bieber and his fans took hold of it.

5. Basic

For the record, I will never give up the word basic…never! Because truthfully there are a lot of basic things that need to be called on. But it’s kind of meta because the word basic, has become well, basic. What a shame.


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5 Black Slang Words That Lost Their Meaning Once They Became Mainstream  was originally published on