Traditional vocabulary has been shoved aside by online abbreviations and slang. Online Language is juicier and more captivating, despite phrases and words becoming shorter.
Net Influencer examines one such mainstream TikTok slang. The term “Slay” is used as an adjective, verb, and even a noun on the popular app. This article unpacks the origins, meaning, and usage of this slang word. We have also included examples from TikTok to provide some context and a deeper understanding of what it means to slay.
The Meaning and Usage of ‘Slay’
This term conjures up images of vampire slaying and murderous acts. And while these associations are not wrong, they are a little outdated for social media. This globally recognized slang is a TikTok staple that is no longer ominous or menacing. It now has a positive and motivational definition. Used as a compliment or form of admiration, slay is the equivalent of “killing it”. It is typically used to refer to women or members of the LGBTQ+ community, specifically to their fashion, artistic performances, fierce attitude, and self-confidence.
“Girl, you look hot in that dress. Slay it”
“Hey Slay Queen, your make-up is fire!”
“You told him exactly where to get off!!! slay!”
How ‘Slay’ is used in conversation and captions
Let us look at the different ways slay can be used, depending on its other definitions:
To achieve something notable
This usually applies to fashion, beauty, self-love, and confidence. However, it can extend to landing your dream job or getting your degree. To “slay’ is to achieve the highest goals.
To defeat or prove someone wrong
When in a chat battle or online feud, the comments can get spicy. “Slay” could be used to refer to the act of dominating the chat.
Other accepted meanings of the term slay include:
To kill an animal
To make someone laugh
To have sex with someone
To something incredibly well
The Origin of “Slay”
Historically, it is believed that the term ‘Slay’ might have been used as slang for “looking attractively fashionable”, as early as the 1800s. Like all trends, it fizzled out and returned around the 1920s.
In the black, Latinx, and queer cultures, ‘slay’ emerged between the 1970-80s. It was commonly used in the drag scene. Used to describe immaculate hair, makeup, outfits, dance moves, and attitudes; it was a metaphor for “killing it.
The term featured in the 1991 New York documentary ‘Paris is Burning’ and the slang was rebooted when RuPaul’s Drag Race was introduced in 2009.
And in recent years, in 2016, Beyoncé made ‘slay’ go mainstream, when she ordered her ladies to get in formation and slay
How to Use ‘Slay’ in Content Creation
Used as a hashtag, in-video caption, or in the description; ‘slay’ can elevate the status of any content. To slay is fierce and powerful, so content creators can use the word in any number of the various contexts that suit it.
Examples of ‘Slay’ being used in popular content or captions
In this video, the elderly content creator shares how she slays every day. The content is hilarious and very witty, given the creator’s age. As a grandma, she slays very differently from what mainstream slaying is all about. Nevertheless, this example demonstrates how the word can be adapted to describe a winning attitude and behaviors.
This example uses slay as a hashtag in the description of the video.
This adorable and impressive video is of Kassie doing her makeup. Her mum joins her in the video. However, Kassie is an old pro at age 6, so her mum just keeps a watchful eye on the cute little girl. Kassie slayed the make-up tutorial.
This makeover is not your run-of-the-mill tutorial. The creator does her boyfriend’s makeup, and while she slays with her makeup skills, her boyfriend slays the look. ‘Slay is used as a hashtag in the description.
This iconic TikTok slang has gone through a metamorphosis over the last 100 hundred years. Re-ignited through social media platforms, “Slay” is not limited to the virtual world and is frequently used in daily conversations. Universally accepted and understood, it is a testimony to the influence social media has on society. This word empowers, complements, motivates, and describes resilience and confidence that is also fun, daring, and constantly being redefined.
Content creators using the term must understand the meaning compressed into “Slay’ and appreciate the leverage it wields in increasing relatability, community, and reach.