What’s the word with profs and slang?

By Marie O'Neal, Staff Writer

Language is always changing, especially among generations. Slang is part of a natural development of language, especially when speaking in informal settings.

“Slang is the fastest changing part of language in any language anywhere. It comes in and fades out,” Associate Professor of English Susan Crane-Laracuente said.

But which generation gets to “own” slang if it’s always changing?

This week, The Vantage came up with a list of popular slang terms and asked four Newman faculty and staff members to take a shot at defining the words and phrases kids these days use. The four interviewees were Crane-Laracuente, University Chaplain Father Adam Grelinger, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Kristi Barton Edwards, and Professor of History Kelly McFall.

Slang is also transitive, so to keep things consistent, we will compare faculty and staff answers of these terms with official definitions from Urban Dictionary.

Edwards thought she would nail this test, as she is quite “woke.”


Edwards: “Well in the ’90s bussin’ was a dance move. You were bustin’ a move, bussin’ a move, or doing the bus.”

We gave Edwards the word in a sentence, which McFall provided. “This Chinese food is bussin.’”

Edwards: “It’s combustible? I don’t know.”

Crane-Laracuente: “Going back to Middle English, bus means to kiss. But I’m sure that’s not it.”

Urban Dictionary: What you would say if something was really good.


Grelinger was spot on when asked was sus meant, as he hangs out all the cool kids.

Grelinger: “Do I know what sus means? Yes. Suspicious. From Among Us. I think Puxsutawney Phil is sus.”

Urban Dictionary: A shorter version of the word “suspect.” Usually used to define someone or something that looks suspicious or untrustworthy.

Cap/No Cap

McFall: “Does it have to do with Russian Roulette? Or does it have something to do with the maximum price?”

Urban Dictionary: The word lying but built different, and no cap basically means that they’re not lying or capping like they did something.

You really hope the person on the other end of the gun isn’t capping during Russian Roulette.


Grelinger: “A bossy lady… who’s going to go get the manager?”

Urban Dictionary: Karen is a pejorative term used in the United States and other English-speaking countries for a woman perceived as entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is appropriate or necessary. A common stereotype is that of a white woman who uses her privilege to demand her own way at the expense of others.

However, Edwards suggests that if you are a “Karen” you should flip the word, take it, and own it.

I’m Dead

Crane-Laracuente: “Dead? Like you just slayed me with that remark?”

Edwards: “My daughter pulled that one on me the other day. I was ready to have an intervention because to me, in criminal justice, dead is dead is dead. I was not aware there was any other way to use the word dead.”

Urban Dictionary: You died of laughter, AKA something is so funny you laughed so hard you died.


McFall: “Like you’re bragging?”

Urban Dictionary: Over the top, excessive, dramatic behavior. Way too much.


Crane-Laracuente: “That one is not even slang, as well as slang. I think it varies a little as used in a phrase. Now it’s an adverbial, like you’re trying to hide something a little bit.”

Grelinger: “It’s like when you’re going to say something to someone because you trust them. But you wouldn’t say it to anyone else. I’ve never heard of highkey, though.”

Urban Dictionary: Lowkey is used to describe a speaker’s thoughts, feelings, and desires. It means of low emotional intensity or secretly. Highkey is when something needs to be said out loud so everyone can hear; opposite of lowkey.


Crane-Laracuente: “Well, I’ve heard of a sump. Or a simpleton in Middle English. Or even simpering? Like someone trying to cozy up to someone they have no business cozying up to.”

Urban Dictionary: A boy who does way too much for the girl he likes.

Good use of context clues, Crane-Laracuente.


McFall: “Ah, crap, my daughter taught me this last year. Is it if something’s really funny?”

Urban Dictionary: Music that is desirable.

Hits Different

Grelinger: “What?”

Crane-Laracuente: “Like it had an effect on you? That’s true about food, like a particular batch of something can be exceptionally good.”

Urban Dictionary: To listen or experience something that conveys a different emotion or feeling than when previously experienced.


Edwards: “Oh well, as a victim and perpetrator of ghosting, I mean, I have students ghost me. It’s like ‘What happened to you? Do we need to have a seance to bring you back?’”

Crane-Laracuente: “Oh, yeah! Who doesn’t know that? Abandoned. Complete abandonment, and you don’t even know why.”

Urban Dictionary: To avoid someone until they get the picture and stop contacting you.

PHOTO: Courtesy Photo,