Gen Z sex slang every doc should know

By Naveed Saleh, MD, MS | Fact-checked by Hale Goetz
Published June 3, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Thanks to the boom in social media, members of Gen Z (currently aged 11 to 27) have developed a rich lexicon of sexual slang.

  • Physicians should sit with their young adult patients alone to discuss sexual concerns; the conversation will be more fruitful with a better understanding of popular slang.

  • Many of the Gen Z-favored terms have certain connotations that may not be initially apparent—not having to ask for meanings will foster better doctor-patient communication.

What happens if a teenager told you during the patient history that their “body count” was three? Would you call the police because you think they had killed three people? Or would you suggest testing for sexually transmitted infections and counsel them on the importance of safe sex?

It may mean something different to older patients, but “body count” can refer to the number of sexual partners a person has had.

Anyone who has scrolled through TikTok or caught a glimpse of their kid’s instant messages has encountered a rich fabric of nuanced slang. Although these new terms may confuse physicians both young and old, it’s important to understand what they mean when they are used in appointments. 

The usefulness of slang

Most changes that occur in language begin with young adults and teens. Young people in particular use language to form an in-group of peers, teammates, and friends. The development of each generation’s language make them distinct from prior generations.[]

Gen Z slang has transformed through various morphological processes in a fashion that reflects an ever-changing and rapidly-developing digital culture.

Though it has been shown to create a language barrier with older generations and to have a negative effect on written skills, slang has helped Gen Z with communication skills and language fluency.[]

Why it matters to HCPs

Adolescent healthcare addresses a period of unrivaled growth and development in a patient’s life. Teens should receive recommended health services to live healthy lives and feel free to talk about sexual health, substance abuse, and mental health as needed with their healthcare providers. It helps when their physicians understand what their patients are saying, including their use of slang.

According to the CDC, one-on-one time between young people and their healthcare providers offers physicians the opportunity to engage in robust sex education, as well as provide personalized risk and prevention strategies.[]

Despite the noted benefits of allowing young people one-on-one time with their HCPs, research by the United International Journal for Research & Technology indicates that only 38% of teens between 15 and 17 years received this time with their HCP during the prior year.[]

Examples of Gen Z slang

Below are some common slang terms used by Gen Z to describe sex and relationships.

Sloppy toppy

This refers to the act of giving oral sex using copious amounts of saliva. According to a Google Trends analysis, this term first became popular in 2012.[]

Example: “Can I get HIV from giving a sloppy toppy?”


Aka, "that hoe over there," this is a derogatory term for a woman who has multiple casual encounters. This slang first rose to prominence in 2013 but has dwindled in usage, although is still actively used by younger generations.

Example: “I’m worried that I have a reputation for being a THOT.”


This is the act of flirting without any intention of engaging in a relationship. This term has been rising in popularity since 2017. 

Example: “He said he liked me, but it was just breadcrumbing.”


To "smash" is to have sex. As slang, this term emerged in 2014 and has been growing in popularity.

Example: “We smashed and he embarrassed me by telling all his friends. Now, I’m having trouble at school and I’m depressed.”

Netflix and chill

This involves inviting a person over to the house to have sex—with or without watching Netflix first. This term was popularized by an Internet meme in 2015.[]

Example: “My boyfriend only texts me to Netflix and chill, and I feel pressured in our relationship.”

When you hear something confusing in the exam room, searching the term on Urban Dictionary, a user-edited platform with new definitions every day, can offer helpful guidance.

What this means for you

Gen Z slang is ubiquitous and can be intended to disguise communication from adults. Physicians should be aware of these terms when speaking with teens one-on-one about their sexual health. Many of these terms have nuanced meanings that can provide a more detailed understanding of sexual history. 

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