‘Genny lec’ and ‘cozzie livs’. And who can afford ‘savvy b’? British slang is daft, but it is breaking taboos | Coco Khan

Last Updated: June 22, 2024By

Long Live the Quirky British Slang!

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If you’ve been scrolling through the internet lately, you might have noticed a peculiar trend. Some adults, mostly millennials and gen Z folks, have adopted this cute, baby-like language even for serious stuff. They call the cost of living crisis “cozzie livs”, the upcoming general election “genny lec”, and a mental breakdown “menty b”. Even holidays are now “holibobs”, and the wine once known as sauvignon blanc is lovingly dubbed “savvy b”, best enjoyed with a jacky p (jacket potato) for a cozy dinner that won’t break the bank.

This trend of using incredibly silly abbreviations has caused quite a stir, especially among North American social media users who struggle to decipher British slang. It’s gotten so confusing that understanding British celebrities in interviews has become its own challenge. Everyone’s had to explain it—Billie Eilish, Emma Stone, Halle Bailey, you name it. Meanwhile, British social media is buzzing with reactions, swinging from pure delight to outright mockery. Labour MP Stella Creasy even joked about banning terms like “genny lec” and “snappy gen” if re-elected.

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Now, if you find all this cringe-worthy, offensive, or just plain boring—I get it. I did too, at first. But now, there’s only one word to describe my feelings about these whimsical nicknames: patriotic.

Slang is personal. What’s cringy to one person might be clever to another, and it’s not my place to judge what sounds smug or genuine. Personally, I have my favorites—“innit” and “babe” feel right, but “totes” and “drinkypoos” (seriously, who says that?) baffle me.

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But while slang has probably been around forever, this culture of quick contractions feels refreshingly new. The speed at which new words pop up and gain popularity online is astonishing. It’s like a national sport of wordplay. My current favorite? Despite never warming up to “holibob”, I’m quite fond of its new version, “holijob”.

Beyond the goofiness and camaraderie, there’s something deeper at play here. Sometimes, even unserious words fill a serious void.

Take “cozzie livs”, for instance, which gained fame after a screenshot from Depop went viral. “I can’t go that low sorry babe,” says the seller, “Especially with the cozzie livs and all that jazz.” Talking about money is tricky, and citing “cozzie livs” might be easier than admitting you need the sale to make ends meet. It’s about breaking down barriers—slang has a way of bringing people together, easing tensions, and destigmatizing tough talks.

I’ve seen the positive impact of “cozzie livs” among friends. What used to be nerve-wracking chats about hen parties or meet-ups are now simplified with a quick, “Sorry girls, can’t afford it. Cozzie livs.” No explanations needed—it’s understood, no judgments passed. It probably works similarly for “menty b”—it’s easier to type “I’m feeling menty b” than to explain the raw emotions.

Sure, it would be ideal if we could talk openly about our troubles without sugar-coating them. And yes, fluffy language can sometimes trivialize serious issues. I think back to my own childhood struggles, and I can’t imagine using “cozzie livs” to talk about, say, an eviction notice. But then again, I never talked about money at all—it was that shameful. Isn’t saying something better than nothing? Maybe there’s some good in sharing feelings this way.

So here’s to the quirky phrases! Let’s celebrate them, weave them into our culture, and cherish these silly expressions from a nation of pun-lovers and word magicians. Embrace these shared moments of joy, because they reflect a society that’s learning to be more open. They’re a source of pride—call it a nashy p if you like!

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