The term „slay“ in the context of youth language is taken from the English language. Its literal meaning is „to slaughter,“ but in slang usage the verb is used when someone has done something particularly impressive.
Original meaning of „slay“ in English
- 1) juvenile slang: succeeding at something impressive, looking good.
- 2) literary; archaic: to slaughter, butcher, kill violently
Part of speech: verb
- Simple present: I, you, they slay / he, she, it slays
- Simple past: slew (colloquially: slayed)
- Present participle: slaying
- Past participle: slain (colloquially: slayed)
Pronunciation/accentuation: IPA: [sleɪ], Past tense: [ˌsluː], Participle II: [ˈsleɪn].
Examples of use of „slay“ in the context of youth language
„Go bridezilla queen. Be difficult. Yasss. Slay.“ -Me as a bridesmaid / „Go bridezilla queen. Be difficult. Yasss. Slay!“ -Me as a bridesmaid
SLAY darling, those looks take hotness to another level! She is so fierce!!!! / SLAY darling, those outfits take hotness to another level! She is so fiery!
Usage examples of „slay“ in the original context
Abel was slain by his brother Cain / Abel was slain by his brother Cain.
We will be overcome by sin if we slay such aggressors. / We will be overcome by sin if we slay such aggressors.
Derived words: slayable, slayer
Where does the term „slay“ come from? Origin, Origin
Slay is an old word with Germanic roots found in early Old English, but it was generally reserved for killing mythical beasts and defeating enemies on the battlefield – GOT style.
Fast forward to the 1920s, the age of jazz, flappers, and serious slang. To slay someone in the Roaring Twenties meant „to make someone laugh very hard,“ which was commonly referred to as You slay me!
Who uses „slay?“
The slang „slay“ is most common in gay and black female culture. The phrase is used when someone looks confidently good, acts confidently, or does or achieves something spectacular, especially in the face of a challenge. It is often used as an exclamation: Slay! Meaning, „Do it!“, „You can do it!“, „Well done!“
Slay in pop culture: meaning, definition, explanation.
„Slay“ is an old word for „to kill“ that has not entirely disappeared from usage. It is also used in its proper meaning until modern times, mainly in pop culture. For example, in the television series „Buffy the Vampire Slayer“ and „Game of Thrones“ with the „King Slayer“ Jaime Lannister. The metal band Slayer also „slays“ the guitar.
As with many contemporary slangs that have quickly gained popularity on social media, Slay has been the inspiration for numerous cultural products. These included the makeup line „Slay All Day“ but also books such as Constance C. R. White’s 2018 „How to Slay: Inspiration from the Queens and Kings of Black Style.“ Actress Nia Sioux also released an anthem to slaying, „SLAY,“ in 2015.
Is „slay“ to say cultural appropriation?
Slay has become mainstream, but it’s important to remember that the term originated in black queer culture. Therefore, insensitive or superficial use of the term could be perceived as presumptuous.
Alternative expressions and idioms with „slay“
Slay in youth language means something like „succeeding at something fantastic.“ An alternative expression for this is „killed it“.
Example sentence: Martina really killed it at the last basketball game. / Martina really killed it at the last basketball game.
Slay can also mean in colloquial usage that something is particularly funny.
Example sentence: This will slay you.