'Ghosted' and 'salty' are top slang words of 2022, survey says. But 'bae'? Not so much.

Slang. We low-key love to use it, but we often don't know the meaning of the phrase we're tossing out.

At least that's one of the findings in a recent survey of 1,500 adults across the U.S. for online language learning platform Preply. Nearly all Americans (94%) use slang, even more than the 84% who said they did in last year's survey.

"While a large percentage of Americans admitted to using slang last year, that number is even higher in 2022," Daniele Saccardi, campaigns manager at Preply, told USA TODAY.

The main reason for that jump, she said, is exposure from social media. Nearly nine in 10 (89%) surveyed said they learn slang from the internet and social media – 31% said they learn slang from TikTok; another 20% learn slang from Twitter.

"These apps allow new slang words to constantly come across our radar faster than ever before," Saccardi said.

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Apparently, most of us (89%) also consult the internet to figure out what a slang term means, the survey suggests.

And nearly one-third (31%) of Generation Z respondents (those born from 1997 to 2012) said they have used a slang term they later discovered was offensive.

What are the most popular slang terms?

"Ghosted," which means to quit communicating with someone without an explanation, remained the survey's top slang term. Coming in second: "salty," a term for being exceptionally bitter, resentful or angry; the term was the second most popular slang term last year, too.

Ghosted is popular because "it's easier than ever to cut off all communication with people and (has) unfortunately become kind of a norm in ending short-term relationships," Saccardi said.

As for "salty," there's plenty of reasons for folks to be angry or resentful, she said. "Whether Americans are salty about the state of our political affairs, the state of our economy, or the issues at work or home, whenever someone is angry in 2022 they are most likely feeling salty," Saccardi said.

Other top slang words:

  • catfish – assuming a false identity or personality on the internet.

  • low-key – understated or secretly.

  • bomb – cool or amazing.

  • savage – not caring about consequences.

A few still-popular slang terms trended down from last year. Those include "woke," being alert to social justice; "GOAT," greatest of all time; and "on point," for exactly right or perfect.

'Bae' named most annoying slang word, along with 'on fleek' and 'rona'

Six out of 10 (59%) surveyed said they were annoyed by slang.

The word "bae," used as a term of endearment or labeling something as good or cool, was the 10th most popular word, but also the most annoying one. Next among the most annoying slang terms: "on fleek," which means perfectly executed or extremely good, attractive or stylish.

Some other particularly bothersome phrases? COVID-related slang such as "rona" and "zoom fatigue,” which two-third said they were annoyed by.

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Why do we use slang? Where do we get it from?

More than half of those surveyed (54%) use slang in most of their conversations, the survey found. Typically, Americans use slang to get a point across quickly (32% of respondents said), and because they hear a lot of slang (27%). One-fifth (20%) said they used slang terms to express their feelings.

Friends are a top source for slang (69%) and entertainment (TV, movies, music) for 51%.

Who uses slang? Generally younger people

The younger you are, the more likely you use slang, the survey found. Nearly all Generation Z respondents (98%) said they used slang, as did 97% of millennials (born 1981-1996). That drops off to 91% for Generation X (born 1965-1980) and 81% for Baby Boomers (1946-1964).

Slang can become part of the common vernacular. For instance, the slang uses of "ghost," "salty" and "catfish" are listed among the informal meanings of those whose words on Merriam-Webster.com. Some words from slang the dictionary site added this year include "yeet," which means used to express surprise or approval, or to throw especially with force; "sus," for suspicious; and "level up," to advance or improve as if in a game.

Slang at work? On a date?

Most respondents suggested slang has its place. Most 84% looked down on using slang at work, with 89% saying slang is unprofessional – and especially bad in job interviews (97%). Still, 56% said they use slang in front of their colleagues.

And when dating, nearly three-fourths (73%) said slang is not OK on a first date.

So, if you plan to use some slang to level up your spiel, make sure you're using it properly – to avoid getting ghosted.

Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Ghosted,' 'salty' most popular slang words of 2022; 'bae' trends down