Lit urban dictionary

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What Does It Mean To Get "Lit"?

In this weeks edition of "What Does That Word All the Youths Are Saying Actually Mean?", we will discuss "lit" — or, perhaps more specifically, what it means to get lit and be lit. I know what you all are thinking — to be lit must mean to be high. To be fair, that is certainly the most used definition of the word; in fact, the most popular Urban Dictionary definition of "lit" is, "The state of being so intoxicated (regardless of the intoxicating agent) that all the person can do is smile, so that they look lit up like a light." Whether you've actually recently lit a joint or are just super turnt on tequila shots, getting and being lit via intoxicant is certainly a common use of the word.

But what does lit mean when it's not used in reference to the intoxicated self? Let us once again turn to Urban Dictionary for some guidance:

Definition One:

"When something is turned up or popping."

Definition Two:

"Something that is fucking amazing in any sense."

Definition Three:

"The act of which a person is excited, or hype due to an upcoming event."

In addition to a person being turnt, being "lit" can also describe an exciting event, a cool person, or general awesomeness.

How about a few examples? First, we see "lit" being used every which way in A$AP Rocky's song "Get Lit":

In the song, he's quite obviously talking about getting high; however, he's also talking about the good times he's excited for (namely the good times that will be associated with girls, clubs, Swishers) and the people he's excited to have those good times with (shoutout to Fat Tony). It's clear that the while the weed is certainly lit, so are A$AP's girls and friends.

We also hear the word emphasized in ILOVEMAJONNEN's "Tuesday," when Drake says, "Tell Gelo bring the juice, we about to get lit":

It's clear that like A$AP, Drake and company are going to be getting lit on drugs and alcohol — but it's also clear that the club itself is pretty lit, too.

So remember kids, there's more than one way to get lit. It's all about doing it safely, with the people you love, and maybe on a Tuesday if the club is going up.

Image: Giphy


Where the slang term 'lit' came from and how big brands ruined it

In the good old days (a phrase the Oxford English Dictionary dates back to the s) to say that something was "lit" meant only the object of discussion was somehow illuminated.

Castles over yonder were "lit up". Describing sunset, Shelley describes the skyline breathing from "a lit sea beneath". In the beginning, in other words, there was light.

Syphilis, drug use: a brief history of being lit

For Victorian times, that was more or less the way things went. But at the start of the 20th century, something changed: and all of a sudden, to be "lit up" meant something entirely different: being drunk, or otherwise intoxicated by drugs.

Originally an Americanism, "lit up" eventually made its way across the world, with various localised spins on the phrase appearing everywhere from PG Wodehouse ("lit up like a candelabra") to seamy Australian pulp fiction ("light yourself up like a Christmas tree").

A pulp book cover depicting a woman clad in a negligee.

Walter Downing, a law student-cum-lexicographer who served in World War I, would later write of a particularly Australian use of "lit up", meaning infected with venereal disease.

Another meaning of "lit" that has developed over the last decade is an adjectival one, meaning that something (usually an event or situation) is hyped or outstanding.

Commonly, this sense is found in the phrase "it's lit" — or, to go whole hog, "it's lit fam" (that lattermost word being a contraction of family).

A precise origin eludes lexicographers: Google trends data shows a spike in lookups beginning in , but Urban Dictionary entries for this sense date back to At the same time, this sense appears in West Coast rap music, though it had shown up on the East Coast as early as

It's lit blows up

While he certainly didn't invent the phrase, the phrase "it's lit" has had a substantial champion over the last five years in the form of Houston-based rapper Travis Scott.

You see, in addition to being a phenomenally successful producer (and, it should be noted, Kylie Jenner's boyfriend) Scott is a prolific ad-libber.

A brief side note: ad-lib is something of an unusual term. Most words that entered English through their use in musical notation come through Italian (tempo, soprano, sotto voce).

Ad-lib borrows directly from Latin, being a shortening of ad libitum ("with pleasure"). Its purpose in sheet music was to indicate that any given performer could ignore a written part at their discretion.


In rap — a genre where "freestyle" is the term more often used to describe an improvised movement — ad-libs generally refer to short vocal drops that are specific to each rap artist.

Kendrick Lamar has lately taken to pre-empting his verses shouting "Kung Fu Kenny", an alternate moniker. Jay-Z exhales in a particularly distinctive manner. Rap wunderkind Desiigner uses a gunshot noise.

And Travis Scott — on his own works, and his prolific guest features — says "it's lit".

While he doesn't have a trademark on the phrase (Eminem has also used it in his work) Scott's usage is so distinctive that the scholars over at open-source lyrics website Genius have listed "it's lit" as a pure Scottism.

Scott joins a prodigious crew: up there with rappers A$AP Mob yelling "Yamborghini", or Action Bronson starting every song shouting "Mr Baklava".

Death by corporate adoption

There was a time where a slang term's time of death was dependent on when parents start using it.

But in the opening decades of the 21st century, the death of popular slang items is more often predicated on their adoption by brands.

So it is with "it's lit", a phrase which has since been used everywhere from Canadian educational television to perhaps the platonic ideal of corporate monolithery: a Google advertising document called "It's Lit: A Guide To What Teens Think Is Cool."

According to Google, Oreos and Netflix are "lit", lifestyle clothing brand Patagonia is not.

It seems Travis Scott (or anyone else striving to sound hip with the teens) may have to find a new ad-lib.

Tiger Webb is a researcher with ABC Language.

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An expression commonly found of social media, used to express one's awe and affection towards a certain subject. The wording of the phrase can vary, and is often followed by several different emojis (😂,💯,🔥,👌🏼).

Can either be used unironically, which often makes the OP appear to be an obnoxious fag who should go back to , or could be used ironically to express one's disappointment or lack of interest in the subject.


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It's Lit

Lit has been used as slang for over a century, but it used to be slang for "drunk." Now, "lit" has taken on a new slang meaning describing something that is "exciting or excellent."

Update: This meaning was added in January

If you watched the Olympics and were on Twitter, you likely know that comedian Leslie Jones was posting her own commentary. The universal consensus: Leslie’s commentary was lit.


'Lit' has been a slang term meaning "intoxicated" for over a century. More recently, it has acquired the meaning "exciting," as well as a broader meaning along the lines of "excellent."

Older Slang Usage of Lit

The slang lit has a long history. Its earliest meaning is “intoxicated,” and that shows up in English as far back as the s:

We walked into the vamp's house. We all got lit and had a hell of a time. —John McGavock Grider, War Birds: Diary of an Unknown Aviator,

This particular use of lit comes from the original use of lit to refer to something that is illumined or has light shining on it (from the past tense of the verb light). It sounds like a semantic stretch, but it’s not: lit and lit up are often used to refer to the look on someone’s face when they are suddenly made happy by something, and there’s no denying that many people feel or look similarly happy when under the influence.

Though the “drunk” meaning of lit has a pedigree stretching back over a century, it is still considered slang: it doesn’t have the same sort of all-purpose use that drunk does, and it still shows up generally in very informal settings, like speech and rap lyrics. In fact, the “intoxicated” sense of lit has had a resurgence of use among a new generation of youth thanks in no small part to rap.

New Meaning of Lit

Rap has also given us a new meaning of lit. In the last ten or so years, lit has transitioned from being applied to the act of intoxicating ("gonna get lit") to the environment of those who are lit ("party's lit"). The wildness of such parties has led to lit gaining the meaning “exciting,” as well as a broader meaning along the lines of “excellent” (“Leslie Jones's commentary on the Olympics was lit"). We have evidence of the “exciting” and “excellent” meanings way back to , and earlier use is likely—slang is often spoken long before it’s written down. This extended meaning of lit is a favorite on social media like Twitter:

Unlike the earlier “intoxicated sense,” this meaning is just starting to make the leap from personal messages to edited prose.

Words We're Watching talks about words we are increasingly seeing in use but that have not yet met our criteria for entry.


Dictionary lit urban

Woke, lit, snacc: When Gen Z lingo stumped our resident elder millennial

Words have a way of entering the popular lexicon before you can find them in a dictionary. These neologisms have confused many a parent, grandparent, language-purists, and yes, even editors of prominent digital publications.

It is increasingly a truism now that a majority of Tinder users in India belong to Gen Z. A cursory glance at the terms that appeared most frequently in Tinder India bios in is evidence that this community probably doesn’t know what a dial-up internet connection is.

These young users, aged 18 to 25, are tapped into the latest linguistic trends and can sometimes speak a language that is indecipherable to a person even a few years older.

Hence, we decided to have some fun with our resident elder millennial, Harish Pullanoor—he missed his ticket to proper millennialdom by being born in —to try his hand at defining Gen Z’s choicest lingo.

Harish doesn’t shy away from a word he’s never heard of—he soldiers on and guesses his way into a degree in linguistic gymnastics from “Stan” University.

When the apocalypse hits the human race and all trace of our existence is wiped out, this glossary of terms will survive to confuse future archaeologists as they dig up our last remaining digital archives. We present the Concise Pullanoor Dictionary of Gen Z Terms:

1. Travel (verb)

Harish: I get excited and tired at the mere thought of the word.

UrbanDictionary: To move from point to point, often done at the spur of a moment.

2. Lit (adj.)

Harish: With the hazaar literature festivals being held nowadays, I forget it is the past tense of light.

UrbanDictionary: When something is turned up or popping (like a party, for instance).

3. Stan (adj.)

Harish: Isn’t it just another name? Or is Stanford University now being used this way, like CalTech.

UrbanDictionary: A crazed and or obsessed fan. The term comes from the song Stan by Eminem. The term Stan is used to describe a fan who goes to great lengths to obsess over a celebrity.

4. Tea (noun)

Harish: Well I’d know this. I wrote an entire piece on tea-drinking.

UrbanDictionary: The best kind of gossip, typically shared between friends. It’s a bonding tool for people of all ages. Tea is usually about someone you know, but can also extend to celebrities random internet scandals, etc. Commonly used in the phrase “spill the tea” about someone.

5. Wanderlust (noun)

Harish: Something my laziness has constantly kept me from catching.

UrbanDictionary: A very strong or irresistible impulse to travel.

6. Flex (verb)

Harish: In my part of the country, besides working on your muscles, it also means a big rectangular piece of plastic sheet on which visuals and names are printed, and which is then used as a banner on stage.

UrbanDictionary: As far as urban slang goes, the definition is “to show off.” Used by many rappers, most notable Ice Cube and the Geto Boys.

7. Woke (adj.)

Harish: Till recently it was just the past tense of wake to me. Now I realise that the same meaning is probably mockingly used to brand the pretentious.

UrbanDictionary: The act of being very pretentious about how much you care about a social issue.

8. Low-key (adj.)

Harish: As in without any fanfare.

UrbanDictionary: To keep something “low-key”: to not announce it; to have a quiet gathering; opposite of a large party or big group of people; not much emphasis, closely aligned with a normal night out doing the usual stuff.

9. Salty (adj.)

Harish: Errmmm…like Lay’s or like a teardrop?

UrbanDictionary: The act of being upset, angry, or bitter as result of being made fun of or embarrassed. Also a characteristic of a person who feels out of place or is feeling attacked.

Snacc (noun)

Harish: I have no clue! Unless this is some perversion of that sinful between-meals indulgence.

UrbanDictionary: When you see somebody really hot you’d call them a snacc, especially if you want to fuck them.

Hangry (adj.)

Harish: Let me guess: Angry-because-hungry?

UrbanDictionary: When you are so hungry that your lack of food causes you to become angry, frustrated or both. An amalgam of hungry and angry invented to describe that feeling when you get when you are out at a restaurant and have been waiting over an hour to get the meal that you have ordered.

High-key (adj.)

Harish: With fanfare, obviously?

UrbanDictionary: It is the opposite of low-key. High-key is more straight up whereas low-key is less definitive.

15 English Slang Words You NEED TO KNOW in 2020 (Speak Like a Native)

11 slang words from the last decade that we love

Teens with phone
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

When they make movies about the s, which words will make notable appearances? 

Which will be made fun of, which will sound retro and cool, and which will be completely unnoticeable, because they've become so ingrained in our culture?

In a decade that saw a massive expansion in social media, slang is spreading faster than ever. As a result we have many complex, historied terms that might set us apart — or make us look old in front of our kids later on.

Of course, we have no way of knowing which ones are which now, but as draws nearer, we can certainly look back at the past decade of slang terms and take a guess at which ones will be remembered most fondly, or get the most continued use. 

Here are our favorite slang words from the s.



Oxford's Advanced Learner's Dictionary defines adulting as "the practice of behaving in the manner of a responsible adult, especially in completing everyday tasks." Basically, it's doing anything a traditional "grown-up" is supposed to do, like laundry, errands, and paying bills.

The word saw its first spike in internet usage in , but truly widespread use began in

Adulting is a word of millennial invention, and perhaps the best word to encapsulate the generation: According to Time, it is a signal of their delayed development.

A myriad of factors, including college debt and an unstable job market early in their careers, lead millennials to hit major milestones much more slowly than preceding generations. This has created a widespread feeling that they aren't "true adults" in their adult lives, and therefore any time they do something that they believe a true adult would do, they are "adulting." 

In a way, it may be a better term than the original label. It implies that adult isn't something you are, it's just an action you perform when you need to get things done. When you aren't adulting, you can still do all the things you've always enjoyed, even if they're things that are traditionally "for kids."


private jet

We all know the term "flex" in the context of flexing a muscle, but this metaphorical slang term applies that same spirit to anything you might want to flaunt — most often status. To flex is to show off, and as a noun, a flex is a specific instance of showing off. 

Ice Cube was an early user of flex in this context in his song "It Was a Good Day," but the term began seeing serious spikes in internet usage around

What's interesting about the word flex is that, unlike the words "brag" and "show off," it does not have a strictly negative connotation. One could say "I had to flex on 'em," as a way of saying "I had to show them what I'm capable of." It's not strictly positive, either, but the fact that it can be seen as impressive is an interesting shift.

Of course, there's also the devastating spin-off dismissal "Weird flex but ok," a phrase used when somebody is showing off about something that really isn't worth bragging about.


woman drinking toasting party friends
Getty Images

Lit is a word with a long and interesting history. According to Merriam-Webster, "Lit has been used as slang for over a century, but it used to be slang for 'drunk.' Now, 'lit' has taken on a new slang meaning describing something that is 'exciting or excellent.'"

The word began seeing popular usage on the internet around the beginning of the decade. Although it has a broad definition, lit is still heard most frequently in the context of parties, outings, or social gatherings, and its original slang definition is still in use. 

A party itself can be lit, but so can a particular activity or event that happened at the party. When the party is lit, it means it's raging; when someone comments that an activity or event is lit, that means it's awesome. If a person says, "let's get lit," it probably means they want to get intoxicated.

Lit's broad definition is exactly why it makes the list: It streamlines communication and connotes the overall feeling of an amazing party. It has also pretty successfully replaced the earlier slang terms "turnt" and "turn up."

Lowkey and highkey

whispering girls

Lowkey and highkey are what you might call sister slang terms — they have the same origin and similar definitions, but mean distinctly different things. 

It is unclear exactly when usage of these words began, but lowkey came before highkey: Lowkey first had relevant Urban Dictionary entries beginning in Highkey, meanwhile, seems to be much newer — it only has one definition matching the current usage, and it is from January

According to an Urban Dictionary entry, "The slang variant of low-key, often written without the hyphen as lowkey, functions as an adverb. Lowkey is typically used to describe a speaker's desires or emotions. Lowkey retains the dictionary definition's meaning of 'of low intensity' and 'not very emotional.' However, additionally, it can also indicate something that is secretly (perhaps somewhat shamefully) wanted or felt by the speaker."

Highkey, meanwhile, is described on Urban Dictionary as "the opposite of lowkey" and "more straight up." It eliminates any feelings of secrecy or shame implied by the word lowkey. 

So, for example, you might lowkey have a crush on your best friend, but you'd be highkey excited if she asked you out.

Lowkey and highkey are, like lit, flex, and extra, a more fun, nuanced way for us to express ourselves. In a world where more and more communication is typed, and never seen or heard, these micro-connotations have become extremely useful in indicating tone and intent. While "kinda" and "really" are just fine in most situations, it's the specific connotations of secrecy and excitement that make these words winners.


australias got talent surprised guy
Nine Network

If someone is "shook," they're shocked, scared, or generally unable to cope with something.

The word made a comeback in the second half of the s after initially being popularized in s hip-hop, especially in Mobb Deep's song "Shook Ones (Part II)."

In today's usage, you might be shook from the twist ending to a movie or if your favorite artist dropped a new album without any prior warning.

Shook is a great term because it condenses the feeling of being shaken up or shaken in your boots down to a single word. "Surprised" and even "shocked" just don't have as much umph.


Westend61/Getty Images

Fam is a simple, catch-all term of endearment that could refer to a person or a group of people. Originally a shortened version of the word family, there has been some dispute as to whether its origins can be traced to black communities in the US or social circles within the United Kingdom. 

Either way, the word hit a steep uphill slope in usage around , and is now, according to Merriam-Webster, used for "a close friend — especially as a form of address."

Fam has, in a way, now become a new way to say "dude" or "guys," and people have been embracing it. As people more people begin to identify outside the traditional gender binary, many are finding it important to try to reduce their use of unnecessarily gendered terms.


matt damon ben affleck
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

The word bromance is so cemented in our language that it even has an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary, where it is described as an "intimate and affectionate friendship between men."

Although the term may have been coined as early as the s, according to "Lexiculture: Papers on English Words and Culture" by Alistair King of Wayne State University, the term bromance really took off thanks to a slew of buddy-cop style movies like "I Love You Man" that came out around  

Online usage of the word spiked in , and has been more or less steady ever since.

In discussing the importance of the word bromance, King put it best: "Previously, men who were perceived as being too close were sometimes ridiculed by bigots and accused of being homosexual. Men were encouraged to keep their emotions repressed and confessing even a platonic love to another man was taboo. The macho attitude was prevalent, and while men could be friends, it was considered unusual if two men were as close as two women were."

As silly as it sounds, the word bromance played a huge role in the important movement of normalizing platonic male affection.


Andrew Burton / Getty Images

Urban Dictionary defines thirsty as "too eager to get something; desperate." This desperation could be in reference to anything — compliments, validation, attention — but it is most frequently used to specifically mean desperate for sex.

For example, if a guy were on Tinder swiping right on every girl he saw, and messaging all his matches in a manner that could be considered overeager, those girls or his friends might call him thirsty.

Urban Dictionary shows a spike in searches for the word thirsty at the very beginning of , so that is likely when it began to gain popularity. However, the site's earliest and most popular definition is from

Thirsty was, in a way, a true pioneer of a word. One of the only words in our lexicon that previously came close to thirsty was horny, and that word is considered taboo, and still doesn't convey the non-sexual, specifically targeted feeling that thirsty does. Meanwhile, "desperate" doesn't channel the physical qualities that "thirsty" taps into.


Westend61/Getty Images

Like many popular slang words, the term shade originated in the black and gay communities in the s. As Linette Lopez explained for Business Insider, the word first came to the general public's attention when it was explained in "Paris is Burning," a documentary about black and Latino drag queens in New York.

"If I were to say in a terribly condescending voice, 'Oh honey, I'm so glad you saved up to buy those glasses,' that's blatant shade." Lopez wrote. "I didn't insult the glasses, or you, directly. It's implied by my voice and the context of what I said. You know they're ugly."

In short, throwing shade is a way of underhandedly insulting someone. Its explosion in online usage since is no doubt a reflection of a society of quick, elegant, character twitter barbs eagerly ready to accept it and adopt it as a kind of art — after all, who doesn't love to read a truly creative insult?


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