Top 10 Slang Terms from 2021

2021 Top Slang

We are unsure who asked for a sequel to 2020, but 2021 delivered. We dealt with much of the same "world's on fire" issues from 2020, like a global pandemic, racial unrest, intense political division, and the Kardashians' love lives. And just like 2020, we've compiled an authoritative, unquestionable, irrefutable list of the year's top slang terms. You'll find some brand new slang and some familiar ones, especially #1 (womp womp). So, without further ado, here are the Top 10 Slang Terms from 2021:

10. Lick

Alright, so this sounds super unsanitary, especially during a pandemic, but lick is actually a way to refer to theft of some sort, like stolen office supplies or cash lifted from a wallet. The term gained significant traction on social media, especially on TikTok, where users challenged each other to share their impressive licks.

One challenge, in particular, known as the devious lick challenge, involved students boasting about expensive items they stole from school. The challenge went viral and got so bad that TikTok had to remove devious lick videos from the site to deter the trend.

Other notable 2021 TikTok trends that didn't make the list include beaning and sheesh (and the faux subversive hellmaxxing trend).

9. Performative activism

When you participate in activism to gain followers on social media, you commit the dubious crime of performative activism. This no-no is similar to virtue signaling, where you do something not because you feel personally moved but because you think you will gain social standing.

Unfortunately, as social issues have come to the forefront over the past several years, this and performative allyship have become quite common on the web, especially on social sites like Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. The most common performative activists are celebrities and social influencers who care more about maintaining fans and not getting canceled than forwarding the causes they post about. One embarrassing 2021 example of performative activism was when an influencer was caught engaging in a photoshoot in the middle of a BLM protest instead of, you know, protesting.


AAVE is short for "African-American Vernacular English," which is American English spoken with vocabulary, accent, and grammatical traits unique to African-Americans. Examples of AAVE terms are often found in American slang, such as tea, doe, finna, and snatched.

As public discourse surrounding racial issues has intensified in the past several years, social media users and some linguists have spotlighted the use of AAVE by non-Black people to sound "cool." The issue came to a head back in May, when users heavily criticized an SNL skit for its use of AAVE. While some support the spotlight on AAVE and the appropriation of Black language, opponents claim that the AAVE label is a product of a woke mob policing free speech.

7. Meme stock

2021 sparked a mini financial revolution in the form of meme stocks, which are stocks that increase in value primarily due to social media hype. While meme stocks existed before 2021, they gained worldwide attention in 2020 and 2021, as social media users (particularly Redditors) had more free time and additional money to "buy" into coordinated stock purchasing efforts, like "short squeezes" on heavily shorted names.

In January 2021, Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook users made GameStop (GME) stock the first successful meme stock. Other meme stocks include AMC Entertainment (AMC), Koss Corporation (KOSS), BlackBerry (BB), Bed, Bath, and Beyond (BBBY). and Vinco Ventures (BBIG).

6. Bussin

Bussin is an AAVE term that took off in 2020 and 2021. While bussin's origins are unclear, its roots trace back to the Black community, where they use it to compliment tasty food. It became prominent among teenagers and young adults, especially those on TikTok, as a way to describe something as great.

When bussin began trending on TikTok in early 2021, Janelle Rohner, a popular foodie TikToker, posted a video asking what the term meant. However, instead of providing a helpful explanation, TikTokers trolled her by stitching together videos of her enjoying food and asking her, "Is it bussin, Janelle?" This video trend soon went viral and helped make bussin even more popular.

5. Crypto

Along with meme stocks, crypto is another financial slang term that impacted 2021. It is short for cryptocurrency, a decentralized digital currency traded online and stored in a computerized database using cryptography. Examples of crypto include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Litecoin, and Coinye.

Crypto's appeal has spawned an entire subculture devoted to buying, selling, and discussing different currencies and has led many investors to convert much or all of their assets into crypto. Time will tell how crypto evolves, but for now, it seems here to stay; just ask Elon Musk.

4. The Great Resignation

COVID-19 has forever changed global economies. In 2020, many office workers shifted to WFH and WFX (or WFA, take your pick) positions to curb the virus's spread. Other workers were laid off or had to quit due to covid-related health issues.

Then, in 2021 came The Great Resignation, where a record number of workers quit their jobs. Various factors led to this mass exodus, including workers' re-evaluation of their life goals, feeling unappreciated by their bosses, and stressful working conditions (among service industry and health care workers in particular). The Great Resignation has affected the economy in various ways, including disruptions in supply lines and businesses' hours of operation.

3. NFT

NFTs took the Internet by storm in 2021, partially because their existence confounded so many people. In short, NFTs are unique pieces of digital artwork, such as an image or video, that people can buy and sell online. While the buyer receives a work of art that supports the artist and may appreciate over time, another user could easily replicate that same piece of art by downloading it or copying and pasting it onto their computer.

Despite sounding like a total scam, some NFTs have sold for MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. So, while some people are perplexed about NFTs' viability, others obviously believe in them (probably the people getting stupid rich off them).

2. Anti-vaxxer

While anti-vax sentiment preceded the pandemic, it exploded in 2021, as several FDA-approved covid vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson) became available to the public. Many covid-weary people celebrated the distribution of the vaccine (some becoming vaxholes). However, vaccine skeptics chose not to receive it and thus became anti-vaxxers.

There are many reasons why anti-vaxxers refuse the vaccine. Some believe that the FDA prematurely approved the covid vaccines without appropriate testing, while conspiracy theorists think covid vaccines are part of a nefarious government plot. Regardless of the reason, the vaccine rift has led to many online and in-person battles in 2021. Yay!

1. Covid

Defending its top spot for the second straight year is... *drumroll* covid! Once again (insert Bernie Sanders meme), covid has dominated another year, influencing almost every aspect of our lives, especially our lexicon. You can't go anywhere without seeing or hearing something covid-related, whether it be vaccine and mask mandates (and subsequent arguments), covid-related job difficulties, or warnings of the delta and omicron variants.

It's safe to say we're ready to move on from covid. So here's hoping 2022 will break free from covid's shackles, and we won't see covid atop 2022's list of top slang.