“All they do is drink wine, post cringe ’90s kid’ memes, talk about tech start-up and lie,” one user wrote. “If millennials are finding it impossible to own houses and hold down grown-up jobs, it won’t get any better for the next generations,” one Twitter user said.
The first half of this article categorizes insults that are either exclusive to the younger generation, or that have evolved over the years. Ever since humans stood at the apex of the food chain, all animals have been culturally relegated to being beneath us.
Man’s best friend gets a surprising amount of flak; dogs can be considered noisy and annoying, barbaric and bestial, or naive and subservient footlockers. Its negative connotation stretches back to biblical origins: as the opening parable to the world’s largest religion, the snake tricks gullible Eve into eating the forbidden fruit, earning its reputation for being cunning and treacherous.
It’s just a hunch, but perhaps the newfound prevalence of this insult stems from our competitive education system becoming increasingly cutthroat? Racialized insults are the bread and butter of every bigot’s arsenal of vulgarities, and I won’t be getting into the thick of them.
The n-word is an ethnic slur directed at people of African descent, popularized during the height of slavery in America. By reclaiming the word (swapping out the -er ending with an -a), they attempt to strip away the power imbalance afforded by it; used by a black person, it’s akin to saying ‘brother’ or ‘sister’.
YouTube’s most subscribed personalities heavily feature gaming related channels, owing to the success of the Let’s Play genre. With the advent of Twitch, game streaming has becoming increasingly popular, and eSports events have caught on to emulate the thrill of watching actual sports.
Just as jocks despise the geeks, those at the bottom of the food chain shake their fists at those at the top. The ‘ basic bitch (and her sibling the ‘dumb hoe’) is the bimbo’s evolution, vapid in her crop top and yoga leggings while sipping on seasonal Starbucks.
There’s the ‘fuck boy’ who’s the Tinder era’s playboy, misleading young women into hookups then ghosting on them. While ‘ e-boys and e-girls are the digital eidolons taking over TikTok, their Singaporean counterparts are the ‘YP’s (young punks).
But nowadays, after the ban, they’ve mostly retreated to making English memes on social media. They are not rowdy and uncouth, but straddle that uncomfortable line between cute and sexy like a Japanese idol.
This infantilisation is often coupled with pinafores and other schoolgirl-related accessories, which attract ‘MM hunters’ who crave this particular aesthetic. Depending on context, calling someone Rabat could mean they have bad grades, an alcohol problem, or did something very silly.
You might be inclined to characterize Gene as individualistic and insensitive, but there are just as many OG swear words that have transcended generations, and endured till today. The two-year long collective trauma has spawned a rich lexicon applicable even after one’s service has ended.
In every group project there’s the ‘Chao King’ (feigning sickness), and the ‘way ang’ (acting, for show). There are those ‘conifers’ (bastardized spelling of officer) who believe their one bar should confer upon them special status outside the army.
There are ‘bad to’s (bun knife) who snitch and ‘Harlan’s (deliberate mispronunciation of Holland) who get lost even with Google Maps. National Service has provided a wealth of insults -as-coping-mechanisms that have greatly expanded Singaporeans’ vocabularies.
So, we've looked far and wide for the beaten slang around the internet (and talked to our local teens as well), compiling the most-used Gene terms into this comprehensive guide in order to help you get a better grasp on the lingo. Basic Refers to someone who is unoriginal and only follows mainstream trends.
Bruh Gender-neutral term for a friend; can be used in disgust or excitement. Cake Usually appears as only the emoji on TikTok (not the word); refers to a thick, juicy booty, in a positive light.
(Editor's Note: “Learning Gene lingo is 'cringy' for us millennials!”) Fake The ultimate insult; an adjective describing someone who is disingenuous, lies a lot, talks behind people's backs, and pretends to be your friend but secretly doesn't like you.
CMU An acronym for “hit me up,” which could refer to hanging out, texting, or talking on the phone. High-Key Used to describe one's thoughts, desires, or feelings in a proclaiming, exclamatory manner.
Iconic Something that is highly influential or unique, like works of art, artists, performers, etc. A phrase used for joking insults back and forth between friends.
Low-Key Used to describe one's thoughts, desires, or feelings in a subtle way. Mood Used in lieu of “same here;” relatable; summing up one's life.
E.g., Person 1: “I feel like I'm looking cute today!” Pressed Describes someone who is upset or irrationally angry.
Pull A word that means to “get together with” someone of the opposite sex. Quaking Shocked or surprised positively.
Slaps Positive term for anything cool, but most frequently used to describe a good song: “That song really slaps.” Slide Into Their DMs A phrase used to signify that one wants to send a flirtatious message over social media.
Spam Account A private Instagram account or Snapchat story that only someone's closest friends can see; usually involves a lot of memes and stupid videos that they wouldn't want the entire public to see. TBH Stands for “To be honest,” but has evolved into a term of agreement.
Thick Pleasantly plump; curvy in the right places (especially the butt or thighs). Thirst Trap A photo or video (specifically on TikTok or Instagram) meant to be sexy and enticing.
Thirsty Describes someone who is desperate for attention from a romantic interest. Triggered Upset, sad, or disgusted; has evolved from its original definition of being reminded of a negative situation.
Vibe/Vibes The vibe describes the overall mood of the situation; the “aura.” For instance, Karen fails the vibe check.
We were all vi bin', having the time of our lives, and COVID-19 swooped in and killed it. Vi bin' A verb that has a lot to do with enjoying music together.
*This list of Gene slang has been verified and approved by your local 17-year-olds. Disclaimer: While this list is for the most part universal because of the internet, the usage of some phrases could vary depending on region and age group.