Algospeak is Changing Language and Slang, Blame TikTok

Could algospeak be the future of casual English? Read to see how Tik Tok is changing the way we talk.

Just For Fun Pop Culture

Is my article mid or valid? If you can answer that question, then you already are accustomed to what we term “algospeak.” As more and more online users join social media platforms such as TikTok, algospeak continues to grow. But what is it, what do these words mean? Keep reading to find out.

What is Algospeak?

Algospeak is the English language changing before our very eyes. Unlike previous slang used throughout the generations, algospeak is working slang. Due to the rise of censorship in media, algospeak developed as a way to combat robot pruning of their videos and messages. In a world of “family-friendly content” to avoid demonetization, users had to get creative to evade algorithmic cleansing. This means that as long as there is censorship, there will be new language to avoid it.

Further, new slang created on social media platforms ingrains itself into everyday life. Even if you are not writing a message on TikTok, you may have caught yourself using phrases from the app in your daily life. This unprecedented connection between people all over the globe allows for shared vocabulary. It also has the potential to completely change the way we as English speakers speak.

Tik Tok Glossary


New slang popularized by TikTok

  • Bussin’ (adj.) – something is really good, usually referring to food
  • Caught in 4k – capturing someone’s typically suspicious behavior on video or camera to be used later
  • Karen (n.) – typically an older white woman who is depicted as crazy or entitled
  • Mid (adj.) – mediocre, not good or bad
  • Ratio (n.) – negative connotation, meaning a comment or video has more replies than likes
  • Saltine (n.) – a triggered or “salty” white person
  • Sheesh (ex.) – response either meaning disbelief or surprise, can be positive or negative
  • Simp (n.) – “Suckas Idolizing Mediocre P****”; someone who will do anything in the hopes of getting sex in return; when referring to self, could just mean a huge supporter who finds the person extremely attractive
  • Valid (adj.) – something very good or meets a very high standard; a respectable opinion

Getting Around the Censors

Algospeak specifically refers to the words algorithms censors out, such as the following:

  • Sexual acts
    • Seggs/s3x – sex
    • Accountant/SW – sex worker
    • Brain – oral sex
    • Corn – porn
    • Forced seggs – rape
    • Nip nops – nipples
    • SA – sexual assault
    • Spicy eggplant – vibrator
  • Mental health
    • Unalive/Self-Unalive – kill/suicide
    • Grippy sock prison – mental health ward
  • Strange censors
    • BBL – Brazilian Butt Lift
    • Lesbean/Le$bian – lesbian
    • Yt – white or Caucasian

Evolving Language

No one would have suspected memes and artificial intelligence would be the catalyst for change but they are. The combination of not only censorship but also hyper-connectivity birthed new language. Some older generations cannot even understand what the youngest generation says because of the lack of exposure to the new language. The gap between English before social media and English as it is now is giant, and it continues to grow.

So, what should we expect for the future? Will censorships slacken or will the English language continue to evolve from digital media? Time can only tell.

To read more about TikTok and language, read our article about Booktok. Also, make sure to see Bookstr’s Tik Tok account for funny videos about all things book related.