Data Journalist

From America’s elders to its fledgling adults, everyone’s most-common slang words are “awesome,” “cool,” and “nice.”

A new YouGov RealTime survey asked more than 1,200 adults to select their top three words for describing something as generally favorable. The words “cool” and “awesome” tied for first among all Americans with 56% of the general population selecting them. “Nice” took third place with 46% of US adults noting it. Each of these words made up a substantial portion of the positive adjectives selected by Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers.

Every generation thinks things are awesome, cool, and nice

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While there are universal slang words that translate across generations, there are certain words that specific age groups are more likely to use than others. Millennials, for instance, are more likely than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers to describe something using words like “dope” (14%), “lit” (11%), “fire” (7%), “Gucci” (6%), “slaps” (5%), or “snatched” (5%).

Among 18-to-24-year-olds, the most popular slang words are still “cool” (48%), “nice” (44%), “awesome” (41%), but “lit” (23%), “sick (16%), and “fire” (12%) were more popular with them than other age groups. 

Baby Boomers, on the other hand, are more likely to tell you something is “superb” (17%) or “neat” (22%) than younger generations. While “awesome” ranks among the top words for each generation, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers rely on it more than Millennials.

What words do Millennials and Baby Boomers use to describe something as generally positive?

Gen Xers, who are caught in the middle of Millennials and Baby Boomers, do not have any words that distinctly belong to them, but they skew toward Millennials with the use of “fire” (4%) and “fresh” (5%) and toward Baby Boomers with phrases like “wicked” (9%).

People on the West Coast will tell you things are “sick” (12%) as a positive note, and Northeasterners like to call something “wicked” (12%) more than other regions. Black Americans say that’s “poppin’” (19%), “bad” (14%), or “hip” (12%), while Hispanic Americans use the phrase “fab” more than other racial groups (9%).

Methodology: Total unweighted sample size was 1,219 US adults ages 18+. The responding sample is weighted to the profile of the sample definition to provide a representative reporting sample. Interviews were conducted online between May 28 - 29, 2019.

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Image: Getty

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