16 Jan 2024

Youth slang with Evie Orpe

From Summer Times, 11:10 am on 16 January 2024
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Photo: Flickr

Rizz, yute, slay, peng, leng and my Roman Empire have all recently entered the lexicon of youth slang.

TAHI presenter Evie Orpe joined Anna Thomas on Summer Times to translate.

Rizz was the Oxford Dictionary's 2023 word of the year and is a personal favourite of Orpe's.

"It comes from charisma. So, if you've got rizz, you've got charisma, but it can be used as 'rizzed up'.

"And that means to charm somebody. Say your friend's got a new girlfriend, you'd be like, 'Well, what did you say to rizz her up?'"


"The yute, the yout, which was basically just a fun way of saying the youth but silly.

"But use it jokingly, like, 'oh, you know the yute love this one'. And it's usually a young person making a sort of joke about what an older person might say about the youth."


"To discuss peng, we must also discuss leng... [they] are sister words, and they're both from the UK. So, I do think they sound a little bit silly when we say them in a New Zealand accent. Mine is so strong: 'Piing, liing'.

TAHI presenter/producer Evie Orpe proudly showing off her 'Sulfate' tee for NZ Music T-Shirt Day. The artwork featured on the shirt is by Peter Ruddell.

Evie Orpe Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

"But peng and leng both mean good or attractive. And you often would use it to describe an attractive woman, you would say, 'Wow, that girl there's peng,' which means she's looking really good. And then leng means pretty much the exact same thing, but leng is maybe slightly stronger.

"So if she looked leng she would look slightly better than the girl who looked peng. But they both look good."

Much of this slang comes from UK grime culture, she says.

"And also such highbrow TV as Love Island... I pick up a lot of slang from Love Island, because it's just such fun to try and say what they're saying."


"I say ceebs all the time. Ceebs means cannot be bothered.

"Do you want to come to the mall? I would go 'ceebs'. Like, I don't want to go. Like, it just means can't be bothered.

"Also it can mean you don't care, or you just aren't interested. You're not sold on it, like 'ceebs not into it'."


"Slay is a word that comes from queer culture. So, it's Ru Paul's Drag Race that really made it. And you know, everyone knows it now.

"But slay just means like, good, cool, stylish. Like you've achieved something like 'oh, you slayed that, you did great'."


"Sick is cool. Sick shirt, sick pants, sick party. It just means cool."

My Roman Empire

"That started from a TikTok trend where it implied that men think about the Roman Empire all day, and girlfriends would film their boyfriend and go, 'Hey babe, how many times do you think about the Roman Empire?' They'll be like, 'I think about it all day, at least three or four times a day.'

"Personally, I didn't really get it because I feel like I think about the Roman Empire just as much as anyone else.

"But it grew into its own thing. And now calling something 'my Roman Empire' is a way of saying, 'This is something that I think about all the time.'"