Tag Archives: youth slang

Király – The Hungarian “Cool”

Text: Király (királyi)

Transliteration: király → king / királyi → royal (king-ish)

Translation: That’s cool

Context: As a 20-year old Hungarian student, my informant explained to me that this is a phrase commonly used by the younger generations in Hungary to say something is “cool.” Király translates literally to “king,” and the more formal version of the slang, királyi, literally means “king-ish.” For Hungarians, “king-ish” or “king-ly” is their substitute for the American equivalent of “cool.” This is why the younger generations of Hungarians express that they like or think something is “cool,” like a car or a person’s behavior, which were both examples that my informant gave. 

Analysis: The association of “kingly” with cool may have its origins in the monarchy of the Austro-Hungary Empire. The Empire was a great political and economic force during its height in the late 19th century and was one of the major powers in Europe at the time (Spencer). I would speculate that after the Empire’s dissolution following World War I and Hungary’s subsequent economic downturn (Spencer), the phrase királyi emerged in colloquial discourse as a callback to the country’s former imperial greatness. It may have functioned as a form of nostalgia for the powerful monarchy that had once ruled over eastern Europe and was a formidable and revered political force: a reminder of Austro-Hungary’s glory days in strength and prosperity. Királyi may have well been a coping mechanism, a way to imbue the population with strength as they grappled with an unstable economy and an uncertain future. Thus, the association of királyi as a term of admiration became popular in Hungary as they weathered hardship through a strength rooted in the past. Granted, the country is in a much more prosperous position now, so the word must have then (if we were to accept this theory) become so rooted in Hungarian vernacular over time that it was never phased out. 

References for historical research:
Spencer, Michael G., and Peter M. Garber. “The Dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire”. IMF Working Papers, vol. 1, no. 66, 1992. https://doi.org/10.5089/9781451848731.001.A001.

凱瑞 : “Carry”

“Kǎi ruì”

Translation: “carry”

Background: Y is a 21-year-old college student from Taiwan who is navigating her new life in Los Angeles, California. Having grown up in and gone to school in Taiwan, she is incredibly familiar with Taiwanese culture and folklore. She attributes her familiarity with modern Taiwanese folk speech to her experience in the Taiwanese education system.

Context: Y remembers first hearing “凱瑞” from a classmate in high school. Y describes “凱瑞” as folk speech which describes someone who is carrying the whole team. It describes someone whose skill, personality, and preparation is so efficient that it compensates for the shortcomings of others. For example, when in a group project, if one student’s efforts outweigh and compensate for the incompetence of others, you can say that this exemplary student is very “凱瑞”. This example of folk speech is most commonly employed in the educational setting and used by the youth.

Analysis: As mentioned, this folk speech is used most commonly amongst the Taiwanese youth, specifically students. Y’s personal example of the group project demonstrates the common occurrence of loafers, slackers or idle workers that can create the need for a more skilled individual to contribute extra effort so that the whole group may meet certain expectations. The usage of “凱瑞” highlights how the person who carries the whole team is venerated for their noble act of stepping up to the challenge. In fact, the existence of such a phenomenon in Taiwan, the word referring to it and its relevance to other cultures (especially American schools) can possibly imply that the experience of a group project is despised in many academic spheres worldwide.

Social Media Slang

Context: HO is an 18 year old college student who frequents instagram frequently and twitter infrequently. I, the interviewer am labeled as DJ.

HO: “Horny on main” means, like, you’re openly talking about something a lot on your public instagram.

DJ: Is it always on social media?

HO: I think it’s only on social media. I don’t know. I’ve never heard someone say that to me, like, outside of social media.

DJ: I’ve used it before not relating to social media.

HO: I never have. Who’s to say?

DJ: So, what does “on main” mean?

HO: It means on their main as opposed to their private Instagram story, or, like, “finsta.” Do I have to explain what “finsta” means?

DJ: Oh yes please. 

HO: It’s where you have a smaller Instagram. Your immediate circle of friends usually follows it, so you can post whatever you want?

DJ: Where does the word come from?

HO: Fake instagram.


Both terms defined in the interview refer to a person having multiple social media accounts: one for the public eye and the other designated as a more private platform in which people can be their more authentic selves. 

For further analysis regarding the social phenomenon “finsta” instagram accounts, see

Dewar, Sofia, et al. “Finsta: Creating” Fake” Spaces for Authentic Performance.” Extended Abstracts of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. 2019.

Common New York Slang: Brick

Y: New York is just one of those places where when it’s cold…  it’s COLD cold. But in New York, we don’t say it’s cold outside, we say it’s brick outside.

This is definitely one of those slang terms that is practically branded by the region that uses it. It’s possible that the reason New Yorkers use the word “brick” to refer to the drops in temperature is that it’s extremely telling of what city it’s from. During the development of New York, and up to this day, the vast majority of the buildings were made out of brick. If you’ve ever touched the side of a brick house during the winter months, you’d know that the material absorbs the surrounding temperature. In fact, however cold it is outside, bricks usually feel ten times colder. However, the further you get from the general city area, the more buildings you’ll see made out of brick. That being said, it’s possible that this slang term is generally used by New Yorkers who live in a more suburban area like the Bronx or Queens, for example.

Common DMV Slang: Sice

K: Every time you can tell someone is just straight-up lying or exaggerating over a situation, they’re sicing it. Sice is just slang for excited or exaggerated. It’s almost like lying but not quite. They’re just making a bigger deal out of what’s really going on. So whenever I hear someone just being overly dramatic, I tell them to stop sicing it up.

DMV= DC, Maryland, Virginia

For the DMV area, this is a very popular slang term. According to the context given by K, it’s safe to say that the culture associated with this region definitely has strong feelings towards dramatic actions. This isn’t something that is at all tolerated which says a lot about how important full honesty is for this group. It’s a good thing to speak your truth but save yourself the embarrassment of being called out for any obvious embellishments.