3 new slang words teachers need to know

Keeping up with student slang is a never-ending battle – here are the meanings of words you might hear in school now

Joshua Lowe

Revealed: Student slang that teachers should know

Every generation comes up with its own slang words, and while you don't necessarily need to work the students' latest lingo into your own vocabulary, it can be useful to at least understand what they are saying.

Knowing what the words mean will help you to spot potential safeguarding issues and help you to better manage behaviour. Here are some of the words that you might currently hear.

Student slang teachers should know


A "simp" is someone who is overly kind and attentive to a person they fancy. 

The word has been used in a derogatory way by highly misogynistic groups on the Internet but that usage is usually not known by the pupils using it in school, who see it as a much more playful term.

As with many words though, it can be useful to point out that it can have much more serious meaning.

It’s often used in a similar way to the term "staning", which is derived from the Eminem song Stan  in which the titular character is a "super fan" who is obsessed with a rap artist . 

Example: "Yeah, John likes Nicole; he’s always been a simp for her."


she’s the simp i swear @dixiedamelio

♬ original sound - brennen


"Sus" is short for suspicious. It gained popularity from the online game Among Us and Twitch (a platform used by gamers to live-stream their gameplay). 

The game requires you to find out the imposter in a group of people, by deciding who seems suspicious.

"Sus" can be used as a replacement for the word "bad", or to express dislike for someone. 

Example: "Jack has been acting really sus recently."


Whereas you might once have referred to your significant other as "baby", these days you may overhear students calling their boyfriend or girlfriend "step".

The term appears to originate from TikTok memes in which young adults in romantic relationships pretend to be step-siblings online, as a joke about the amount of "step-sibling" content available on free porn sites.

Example: “Oh yeah, that’s my step-brother,” says Georgia, referring to her non-related boyfriend

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Joshua Lowe

Joshua Lowe

Joshua Lowe is a social media journalist at Tes. He tweets @josh_lowe

Latest stories

Teaching remotely

11 annoying moments from remote learning

The move to teaching remotely hasn’t been easy for school staff, but at least it has been memorable. Here are some of your tricky moments from the front line of lockdown learning this week
Joshua Lowe 16 Jan 2021

Coronavirus and schools: LIVE 15/1

A one-stop shop for teachers who want to know what impact the ongoing pandemic will have on their working lives
Tes Reporter 15 Jan 2021