Skip to Main Content

We have a new app!

Take the Access library with you wherever you go—easy access to books, videos, images, podcasts, personalized features, and more.

Download the Access App here: iOS and Android. Learn more here!


Communication is one of the most fundamental skills we learn as humans. Through communication, we can share breakthroughs in scientific discoveries, tell people we love them, and enter the world of poetry and great novels. However, effective communication is a difficult skill to master, even among family, friends, and similar groups. During communication processes, words selected by either communicator may lack mutual meaning. This can hinder the opportunity for effective communication and may instead produce an unclear communication process and in some instances damage or destroy relationships.

When we add diverse cultural and subcultural meanings to words, the complexity of achieving effective communication becomes more challenging and requires enhanced skills. Glossaries are generally presented as a concluding chapter or appendix of a book. For this guidebook, though, to present a common foundation and enhance communication, this chapter defines carefully selected terms based on their relevance to the discussion of cultural sensibility.


Typically, adolescents create and use words with different meanings for their specific purpose during a specific time period. Consider the word good. Its meaning conveys something positive, beneficial, or excellent. Over the past 30 years, adolescents in the United States have attached the meaning of the word good to words other than the good. Around the 1980s, some adolescents substituted the word bad for good. In fact, a fast-food chicken advertisement had a group of young men playing in a band with a gentleman that appeared to be in his 70s. An attractive woman enters announcing that food is here and that it’s time to eat the new fast-food chicken recipe. The next scene has the younger men stating, “This new chicken recipe is bad.” The camera goes in for a close-up of the older gentleman, who looks puzzled and then replies, “I don’t know what you’re talking about; this is good chicken!”

In the 1990s, teens could be heard saying “that’s the bomb,” also conveying to their peer group that something is good. During the early 2000s, “that’s dope” implied something was positively good. In most standard dictionaries, bad, bomb, and dope do not imply something positive, beneficial, or excellent. To a specific subculture of adolescents during specific periods in time, however, the words bad, bomb, and dope communicated their meaning for the word good. To this adolescent subgroup, their use of these words conveyed one meaning, but to outsiders, their conversations would be viewed as confusing and more than likely misinterpreted, as in the chicken commercial. So that we’re current with 2015 pop culture, I asked my favorite 19-year-old play niece, Ms. M. P., what current words mean good in teen pop culture. She did not disappoint. The following are the current words:

  • Sick

  • Wicked

  • Beast

  • Boss (revived from the 20th century)

The fascinating thing about this list is that the usage and ...

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.