Youth marketing

Need to know: The Pion guide to Gen Z buzzwords

Young Gen Z males on their cell phones in a cool location
Written by
Victoria Owen
Published on
June 2, 2021
Last updated
June 3, 2024

What this article covers

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe to receive the latest blog posts to your inbox every week.


By subscribing you agree to with our Privacy Policy.

‘Salty’, ‘woke’ and ‘Netflix and chill’ are all buzz words and phrases that are associated with Millennials. While there may be some debate about which generation coined these buzzwords, there certainly isn’t about the new wave of slanguage being added to the Gen Z dictionary. As social media continues to evolve and accelerate at a rapid pace, it can often be difficult to stay up-to-date with the latest lingo. In our latest ‘need-to-know’ blog post, we break down some of the terminology you might want to start including in your marketing messages.


Let’s start with arguably the most talked-about phrase in the Gen Z language right now. ‘Cheugy’, pronounced ‘Chew-gee’ has become famous after its widespread adoption TikTok. The word simply refers to something that is no longer ‘cool’ or ‘on trend’. It can be attributed to almost anything including; fashion, interiors, make-up looks and even people (often Millennials). When we did a little research to understand what types of things were identified as ‘Cheugy’ we found that the following were listed; using the word ‘girl boss’, Starbucks merchandise, lasagne, anything rose gold and the double GG Gucci belt. When it comes to Cheugy nothing is off-limits, so it isn’t surprising that TikTok posts with the hashtag #cheugy have garnered more than 24 million views. If you want to ensure your brand or product doesn’t fall victim to this slang word, make sure you stay up to date with the latest Pion trends.


Our next buzzword that has also found fame on Gen Z’s favourite social platform TikTok is ‘Softcore’, which is defined as a fashion trend and subculture that is influenced by cosy aesthetics and soft elements. The hashtag #softcore currently has 52M views on TikTok. Softcore is thought to be influenced by Japanese Kawaii culture, the movement towards comfortable dressing and leisurewear and the rise of pastel colours in fashion and design. Brands and retailers have been embracing the Softcore trend in their marketing over the last few months. According to Edited, & Other Stories sent an email in April, promoting its "soft co-ord sets" and Monki currently features a "super-soft edit" within its navigation menu - everyday pieces and tactile fabric blends are a key focus. Kim Kardashian has also expanded her Skims range to include ‘Cozy’- a warm, knit collection made from breathable and stretchy yarn. 

Softcore is just one of the many micro-core trends that Gen Z has adopted from social media, other movements include; Cottagecore, Vermontcore and Normcore. Keep your eye out on Instagram and TikTok for the next addition 👀.


Swishing and Thrifting

With Gen Z driving the fashion resale movement, it’s no surprise that they also have a series of Buzzwords attached to this favoured pastime. Swishing- ‘the swapping of clothes with others’ and ‘Thrifting’- buying and selling used clothes and accessories, were created by users on resale apps Vinted and Gen Z favourite, Depop. The app recently reported that 90% of its users are under the age of 26, and since launching in 2011 it has grown to have more than 13 million customers in 147 countries. With Gen Z focused on saving the environment and turning their passion into profit, we can expect these Buzzwords to stick around and stay relevant for quite some time.



As quoted in our Youth Trends 2021 report, ‘Cluttercore’ is defined as the antithesis of the minimalist interior trend. It involves decorating a room with maximalism in mind and questions the idea that a room needs to be neat and devoid of clutter to encourage good mental health. Think antiques, mementoes, clashing prints, precariously stacked books and lots of wall art. This micro-core movement embodies Gen Z’s passion for self-expression and embracing their differences. Our studies found that 85% of Gen Z say being themself is more important to them than fitting in, a sentiment reflected in this trend.

Main Character

As we know, Gen Z is embracing their self-confidence and while they pride themselves on championing the rights of their peers, they are also not shy about putting themselves first and practising some self-love. Main Character energy is all about taking centre stage and becoming the point of focus in life. You may be familiar with the hashtags #maincharacter and #maincharacterchallenge which have been trending on TikTok recently and have garnered 5.4 billion and 329 million views respectively. The challenge, which involves app users dressing up in punk-rock inspired outfits and lip-syncing along to a track by Miley Cyrus, has been adopted by some of the platforms biggest influencers.

@jonysios pov : Heather pushes you on stage to ✨hvmiIiate you✨ but you decide to become the Main character... 🎤😈 #mileycyrus #transformation #boysinmakeup ♬ MAIN CHARACTER CHALLENGE miley cyrus - Jony

Want to stay up-to-date with the latest trending topics and buzzwords on social media? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for updates on the latest youth trends direct to your email inbox.

3,500+ brands trust Pion

Ready to see how Pion can supercharge your sales targets?