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Trending Cultural Buzz Words and Phrases in 2020

Lori Colbo loves to write about her Christian faith and the Bible to encourage and inspire others.


How rapidly American culture coins new phrases or changes old ones into new ones, regarding events and ideologies of the day. Some that came to mind are older than 2020, but used regularly. This year has been the most bizarre season most of us have ever experienced. Some new terms have come from those issues. I thought I'd share some, because I have so much time on my hands (wink), and cover them in topics. If you see one missing, add yours in the comments. Ready, set, go!


Adulting: Being a responsible adult. Used by immature 20-somethings who are proud of themselves for paying a bill. (Urban Dictionary)

All Lives Matter: A slogan that has come to be associated with criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement. (Wikipedia). The statement is intended to say everyone is of equal importance.


Black Lives Matter: Black Lives Matter is a global organization whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives. (Black Lives Matter official website)

Blue Lives Matter: Blue Lives Matter is a counter-movement to Black Lives Matter, founded in 2014 by three police officers. The Blue Lives Matter movement advocates for the protection of police officers and petitions for crimes against the police to be considered as hate crimes. (The Latch

Buzz Word: A word or phrase, often an item of jargon, that is fashionable at a particular time or in a particular context.



Cancel Culture: The popular practice of withdrawing support for public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive. Cancel culture is generally discussed as being performed on social media in the form of group shaming. (

Chatbot: A chatbot is an artificial intelligence software that can simulate a conversation with a user in natural language through messaging applications, websites, mobile apps or through the telephone. (Expert System,

Clickbait: A form of false advertisement, uses hyperlink text or a thumbnail link that is designed to attract attention and to entice users to follow that link and read, view, or listen to the linked piece of online content, with a defining characteristic of being deceptive, typically sensationalized or misleading. (Wikipedia)

Content: Any text, image, video or audio content that is used to convey information or messages to an online audience on the internet (Law Insider)


Deplorables: A derogatory term coined by Hillary Clinton describing Trump supporters. To quote:

"To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it."

(Merriam Webster,

Double Down: To become more tenacious, zealous, or resolute in a position or undertaking. (Merriam Webster)

Drain the Swamp: A metaphor that means to root out corruption. It’s often used in politics. President Trump did not coin the phrase but has used it often when referring to the Democratic party. (



Emoji: A small icon image expressing emotion, often shared on social media in response to a post, but also used in email and texting.




Facebook: A popular social networking platform where news, comments, images, and video is posted and viewed by friends. (see friends)

Facetime: A video chat application developed by Apple where people can talk via video on communication devices.

Fake News: News that is untrue trending in journalism. President Trump is known for using the term to expose and combat false news about him.

False Narrative: To convey a story that isn't real but to characterize it as if it is by creating a false story behind the situation in order to make it factual when the history itself never happened. (Urban Dictionary)

First Responders: Emergency personnel, such as police and fire departments, who are first to respond to emergencies.

Flame Wars: A lengthy exchange of angry or abusive messages between users of an online forum or other discussion areas.

Flattening the Curve: Slowing the spread of COVID-19 virus over time using social distancing, masks, and other means which looks like a lower, smoother curve on the tracking chart. (Advent Health)

Follower: A person who subscribes to a feed on social media, blogs, and content sites.

Friend: A follower on social media.


Gaslighting: To psychologically manipulate someone to question their own sanity.

Go Viral: An image, or more often a video, that is shared rapidly through a large population of people; A vast amount of viewers in a short period of time.

Google It: To use the Google search engine to find the information one is looking for


Hack: (1) A shortened term for a hacker (see below). (2) Any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life. (Wikipedia)

Hacker: A person who uses computers to gain unauthorized access to data.

Hashtag: A word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media websites and applications, especially Twitter, to identify digital content on a specific topic. (

Hit Me Up: A request by a person for someone else to call, visit, or contact them later for social interaction.


Karen: A woman who is entitled, demanding, and complaining


Livestream: When an event video is sent over the Internet in real time, sometimes simultaneously recording for later viewing.

Long Haulers: People who have not fully recovered from COVID-19, weeks or even months after first experiencing symptoms. (Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School,


Mainstream Media: Well established and prominent news outlets.

Me Too Movement: A social movement against sexual abuse and sexual harassment where people publicize allegations of sex crimes committed by powerful and/or prominent men. (Wikipedia)

Meme: An amusing or interesting item (such as a captioned picture or video) or genre of items that is spread widely online especially through social media. (Merriam Webster)

My Bad: Slang for "my mistake."




New Normal: A previously unfamiliar or atypical situation that has become standard, usual, or expected. Currently used in reference to life during COVID-19 pandemic

Newsjacking: The art and science of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story so you and your ideas get noticed. Coined by David Meerman Scott in 2011. (


Pro-Life or Right to Life: The ideological and spiritual position that the unborn in the womb should be given the right to be born and live; that they are God's sacred creation, thus giving them the right to be born, and should be protected from abortion.

Pushback: Resistant opposition in response to policy or regulation by those affected. (Merriam Webster)


Real-Time: The actual time that something takes place.

Remote (Distance) Learning: Due to the COVID-19 crisis schools closed down and students had classes at home on the internet.


Snow Flake: A political insult for someone who is perceived as too sensitive, often used for millennials and liberals. (

Social Distancing: Keeping a predetermined distance from other people during the COVID-19 virus pandemic.

Spot On: Similar to the term "nailed it." A person determines something accurately.

Take a Knee: When a football (or other professional sport) player kneels on one knee during the national anthem in protest of the mistreatment of Black people.

Trolling: The deliberate act of making random unsolicited and/or controversial comments on various internet forums with the intent to provoke an emotional knee jerk reaction from unsuspecting readers to engage in a fight or argument.

Tweet: A post on the social media platform TWITTER.

Twitter: A popular social networking platform often a hotbed of toxic battles between users.

U -Word

Unpack: To analyze the nature of a concept or idea by breaking it down and examining it in detail.

W Word

WOKE: The meaning of WOKE depends on what socio-political side one adheres to. The Progressive left would say it's a modern way of describing someone who is conscious of important news happening throughout the world, especially political headlines and issues.

X and Z- Words

Xenophobe: A person having a dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries.

ZOOM: A video conferencing software.

© 2020 Lori Colbo


Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 27, 2020:

I think that I knew less that half of these terms. Thanks for the education.

Maurice Malcolm from FL on October 26, 2020:

I can expect to learn more buzz words before the year ends. Thanks for sharing those reminders.

Lori Colbo (author) from United States on October 26, 2020:

Lawrence, I love your information and the thing about the word hack makes perfect sense. Some of the new uses for it are new to me. But I'm always a step behind everyone else. Thanks.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on October 24, 2020:


A lot of these aren't new so much as having changed.

When I was a teenager I had a mate/buddy from Uganda who told me that in Uganda the local kids called White kids 'Snowflake'

Also where I come from to 'hack it' simply meant to get on with a job or overcome stuff.

People who washed out during basic training, or any training couldn't 'hack it'

To hack into something meant to 'get the job done'

Even now I still see a computer hacker not as someone necessarily breaking into something (maybe it's my less than savoury past coming out) but someone who finds a 'back door' into a programme.

It was interesting to read though.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 23, 2020:

This is quit a large list of buzz words and it says a lot about 2020. I had heard of most of them but I don't tend to use many of them but you never know. Thanks for this information, Lori. Have a great weekend.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 23, 2020:

How about we just toss out 2020 and start fresh in January? lol I'm not much for buzz words, but I admit, I've used a few of these. I don't know if that makes me sad, angry, or what?

Happy Weekend! Stay warm!

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on October 23, 2020:

Haven´t been able to be on HP for a while, but I like your picture. Is it new or just one of those many things I´ve been missing? I have to be honest. I had no idea what most of the terms meant. Some I never even heard of. Thanks for bringing them to my attention, Lori.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 23, 2020:

Wow this is amazing afraid I won't be remembering many.

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