Sick is the New Cool

Over the holidays I learned that my neighborhood is sick. Seriously. I kept hearing "This is sick" about everything. Having a fourteen year old brother is not only enlightening, but it's pretty cool.

Cool, by the way, is still an "in" word.

For those of you who write YA or MG, you might find these words interesting. Straight from Orange County, California, below is the list my wonderful brother gave me.
Define these words:

Gnarly (yeah, it's still in and I heard him and my dad use it fluently)
Sic Thizz (yes, that's how it's spelled)

Have you heard any of these words? I think some of you have posted your kids' slang before. How do you feel about slang in fiction? Is the slang you use still cool? Or are you hanging on to outdated slang because it's groovy?


Terri Tiffany said…
I think it's important to use the current sland when writing dialogue for youth. I don't write it cause I'm out of the loop but a friend of mine was writing it in her book and she used the word dope as like "you dope," and I suggested she use another term as she was dating herself:)
I'm not sure what it says about me, but I use a lot of those words, Jessica.

Things are often "sic" ... and they are "cool" most of the time. Unfortunately, I am told I'm a geezer as well because lots of stuff is "awesome" in my world. :-)

Nothing has ever been "gnarly" though. Not even back in the dinosaur age when it was first the sic thing to say. That word always makes me think of the witch's hands in Snow White when she's fondling the apple.
anita said…
Snort on Sandra's comment about gnarly!!

Great list, Jessie. I have kids and WORK at a middle school, yet some of these words are foreign to me. I know boss, gnarly, bro and bra. And sick, of course. :-)

But beast, steezy, and sic thizz? Could you give me the definitions of those? I have a crit pal who writes YA and I'll bet she'd love to have this list. I'm sending it her way.

Thanks for the great post. BTW, you're sneaky. When I first read the title, I assumed you were talking about all the sickness you've been battling at your house lately. Including your computer virus. Heh. Shows what a geezer I am, right? ;-)
Tabitha Bird said…
LOL! Sounds like the same list of words our teenagers use over here.
Terri, that's hilarious!! You're a good crit partner for pointing that out. :-)

LOL Sandie! Well, he and my dad constantly use gnarly, but they're both surfers so maybe that's why? I'm jealous you know all this slang. LOL I didn't know most of these words. Heh.

Ha! You're not a geezer, Anita.
:-) After I did the title I thought it might be a little misleading, but I'm lazy so I left it. I can't believe you know these too! I'm really out of the loop. I don't know about steezy, but sic thizz might be another form of sic and beast means you're really good at something (I think) LOL
Tabitha, isn't that funny? But you use a ton of words I've never heard of too. *sigh* I hope I get to go to Australia someday!
Tammy Doherty said…
I have a 13yr old daughter, so some of th YA language is filtering through to me. Here in the northeast, the kids still say "wicked" a lot, too. (so do I!) But I've never heard any of the kids around here use "Bra" - assuming your meaning is brother or friend as in Hawaii. So maybe some slang isn't just generational or unique to a country but also to a region. Just a head's up for the YA writers out there - and I do think slang should be used in dialog at the very least. To keep it real :-)
Hey Tammy! How are you? Thanks for stopping by. I think it's regional too. I was surprised wicked wasn't on his list.
I keep up to date on the current lingo from my 11 and 13 year old granddaughters.It's challenging trying to talk their language! LOL!
I've read that it can be overdone easily so it's something to be careful with. Of course if it fits the character to a T, go for it.

Schizzy, hizzy. I'm so sick!
~ Wendy
Oh! *giggles* I read your post title and thought about poor you, who was sick for so long. Thought you were trying to make yourself feel better about it! :)

I think slang is great in adult fiction, too, if it's part of just one or two characters' personalities. It makes sense that maybe one person would speak that way, and that's an identifier, of sorts.
Diane said…
About 11 years ago, somebody told me I looked "Phat" in a dress I had wore to work. I did not know the lingo at the time and was self conscious the rest of the day. :O)
Jody Hedlund said…
The words kids use are really funny! I'm glad I don't have to worry too much about trying to sound like modern kids in my writing! My problem is trying to keep the modern wordage/slang OUT of my writing! :-)
That's funny Jody! But true. :-)

Oh no! Diane, how horrible. But after you learned what it meant, did you feel better?

Janna, that's funny. :-) I love how you mention it being an identifier. I totally agree with you on that!
Angela Ackerman said…
I'll stick to the classics, or make a new one by splicing two common ones. This way the meaning is still there, but it will stay fresh because it isn't a trend ism that becomes obsolete a few years down the road.
Donna, I can't imagine trying to speak teen. LOL

Wendy, I know what you mean. Also, it runs the risk of dating the book, esp. if those words go out of style. So it's tricky, but like Janna said, if it's an identifier then I think it would work pretty well. I hope you feel better soon. *sympathy hugs*
Angela, cool idea about splicing slang. You should do that on your blog sometime, a slang dictionary. Or have you already? I'll have to stop by later...
Dara said…
I have never heard the last three on your list.

"Steezy"? That makes me want to sneeze saying it.
Sarah Forgrave said…
Okay, I'm thoroughly confused by the last two in that list. Steezy and Sic Thizz??? Please tell me you'll provide definitions! LOL
Karen Lange said…
I've heard many of these words. I think we need to be careful about current slang in fiction because it can date it too much. Guess it depends on what it is for...

Happy weekend,
Julie Dao said…
Okay now I feel totally out of touch and ancient. I don't know half of these words. My brothers are in college and high school so I've heard "sick." They also say "ill" as in, "Dude, that snowboard is totally ill." I have never heard of "steezy" or "sic thizz," nor do I have the faintest idea what they mean. LOL
BK Mattingly said…
I've heard of those. I'm in college so I've used some of them, but I write them more than I say them. :)
Tammy Doherty said…
In regard to "dating" your work by using you have a character use a cell phone? Watch a video or dvd? Now, think about the cell phone - remember when mobile phones were big bulky things? And DVD's are being replaced by BlueRay. Computers are outdated within months of purchase!

When you write, generally the story takes place in a fixed point of time. Like your setting: to make it work for you, what happens in the story should be unique to that place. For example, I couldn't write a story about skiing that takes place in Florida :-) That's over simplified, but makes the point. The time of the story is also something that is unique and part of the plot. You can't have someone call for help on a cell phone if your story takes place during WWII. Likewise, you'd expect a contemporary character to have access to a phone, and likely a cell phone as well.

In a few years, the cell phone in your story may be outdated. Technology changes rapidly. A "contemporary" novel written now will be an historical novel in 50-60 years. So the dialog should accurately reflect the time of the setting.

On the other hand, too much slang in dialog can be annoying :D
Nice run-down Tammy! You're right, of course. Sometimes I read older romances and kind of cringe when the heroine's clothes are described, because they're clothes I would never wear. It's funny how things come back though.
Anyway, thanks Tammy!

Bethany, me too. I use slang way more in commenting on blogs than I ever say in life.

Julie, LOL! When I had to ask my brother for some words, I felt ancient too. I've heard ill before, but it was slang for nasty (like someone's attitude). I always thought it was a southern thing.
Dara, your comment is hilarious!

Sarah, I wish I knew! I think I'm just going to have to google the definitions. LOL My brother might tell me, if I can catch him. Not sure...

Karen, I think so too. Some slang words seem to stick around longer than others. Cool, for example. But groovy and rad are out, which makes me wonder what words will be weird to say in a few years.
patti said…
Oh, MYYYYY!! LOVE this, Jessica! My son recently used sick to describe something I wore and my fist clenched, ready to punch him. YYYYYEs, it is a compliment. So bizarre.

Now you have educated me on the others.

Used some Southern slang yesterday and my part-time assistant said, "I haven't heard that in AGES." BUT I don't remember what the word was. Sick! (the other way).

Nancy J. Parra said…
This was fun! Thanks for sharing. Great discussion about trends and timelessness in your work.
Jay Asher says he used audio tapes in "Thirteen Reasons Why"- a Bestselling YA- because they were outdated and therefore timeless- as in the protagonist had to seek out a player to hear them.
Something to think about. Cheers~
Ha! I've used sick a few times. I'll try to remember that it's cool the next time I am actually sick!
Jessie Oliveros said…
I try to avoid slang b/c I feel like it would date the novel too much. Plus, I don't know any. I am not very sick.
Nancy said…
I thought you were going to talk about how disgusting things were "in" as in "oh, that's sick." From my time frame, that is. I was all set to agree with you. Shows I'm totally out of the loop. I have only heard of a few of those slang words. Good thing I don't write contemporary fiction. They were funny, though.
Genny said…
Thanks for the tips, Jessica! :)
Nancy, you're funny! Don't worry, until little brother visited, I'd never heard this before.

Jessie, I'm not "sick" either. LOL

Kristen!!! Hahaaa, I can't believe you've said it. LOL So when you're on the mission field and you see an awesome building or thing, you're like, "That's sic!". Heeheee.
Patti, it is kind of bizarre. I guess 'cause we're on the outside looking in. *grin*

Nancy P. thanks for sharing that! What a great idea.
Deb Shucka said…
What a great list of words. So glad to hear cool is still cool. Slang is like a spice in writing. Too much might ruin a flavor, but a little highlights the flavor.
Because I teach high school, I'm familiar with them all (except the bottom one - that's new to me). You need to add "frack" to the list. :-)
Hey Jess -

I guess I'm dating myself with "neat" and "gross." I'm glad "cool" is still okay. :)

Great analogy Deb!

Frack??? LOL Shannon, what's that one mean?

Susan, no worries. I use gross all the time. We can be outdated together. *grin*
Karen Hossink said…
The thing that makes me laugh when my kids are talking is when they start "talking text." One of them asks another a question and the response comes back, "I D K," or, "I D C." And before they leave the room they call over their shoulder, "B R B!"
It's all OK with me, but I will voice an objection if they start with WTF or LMAO...
My girls constantly are telling me how "old" I am. Guess that means my slang is really out of date.

I don't think I've heard any of those words used around here, but I do believe slang has a place in writing by characterizing certain characters. I certainly wouldn't want to use it widely with more than one character in any given novel, but it sure can be helpful in defining a character that fits it.
Keli Gwyn said…
Thankfully, I write historicals, so my dated slang (think 70s) doesn't hinder my writing.

The Fashion Queen is in college now. Whenever she comes home for a visit, though, I'm apt to learn new words, so I'm not totally clueless. However, I haven't heard all of the words on your list. She's here for the three-day weekend, so I'll have to run them by her. :)
jdsanc said…
I remember my mom trying to smooze me with slang with I was a kid, and being so, Mom, please, get over yourself. You are not even doing it right.
But in books, when it's done right, I love it, probably because I turned out to be a slang-dork just like my mom.

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