RDP Saturday – Fleek

Ragtag Daily Prompt of the day : fleek
Saturday, October 13, 2018

Create a new post inspired by today’s prompt. Feel free to be inspired to write fiction, nonfiction or create photos, art.

Words pop up all the time.  For some they will remain a generation’s slang but a few will become part and parcel with the English language.  Fleek is a very new word, popularized in 2014, although it had been bouncing around for a decade before then.  Merriam Webster (MW hereafter) did an article on Fleek but if you drop the word in the search bar, it doesn’t show up.  It’s a popular word in the 20-something age group and MW’s examples of uses were pulled from instagram.  MW  said it was “nominated by the American Dialect Society for its 2015 “Word of the Year” in the “Most Likely to Succeed” category.” Usually used with the preposition “on”  as “on fleek” or “not on fleek”.  Yet four years later, despite popular usage, the poor word is still not in MW’s dictionary.  You’ll have to cross the seas to the Oxford Dictionary who have the word albeit it’s marked “U.S. informal”.  Or if you don’t feel like swimming the Atlantic ocean, Google’s dictionary has it too.  Whether it will remain in the dictionaries is anyone’s guess.

(on) Fleek


perfectly done, exactly right; extremely good, attractive or stylish; sleek and perfectly groomed or styled

Examples: “Eyebrows on fleek.” , “Makeup on fleek”.

Changing meanings:
Apparently “on fleek” started life around 2003 meaning “nice, smooth, sweet” but a video going viral in 2014 has settled the word on “perfectly done”. Shortly thereafter celebrities started using it, then corporations popped the word into their feeds with things like “Taco Bell on fleek” on twitter.  No wonder MW said their example sentences were from usage out in the wild.

To be fair, “fleek” may not make it out of the “informal” language sector.  While if you do a  search in Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and others for a hashtag onfleek, you will get millions of entries with people bragging whatever  is “on fleek”, you also have a backlash that started as early as in 2015.  The top entry in the Urban Dictionary for “on fleek” said

A word used by those intent on decimating the English language, and further depleting the ever dwindling repository of individuals capable of intellectual conversation.
For anyone who uses the term ‘on fleek’ I’ve added links to the big words to help you out.
via giphy
by Darrylbster May 08, 2016

The thing is English, like all languages, is constantly evolving.  Reddit even has a board for newly coined words where you get to see such things as barkpack (dog’s backpack) and tictacular (amazing). Scrabble officially allowed 300 new words this September including such classics as “twerk”, “bestie” and “frowny.”  No matter how people try to make it stay in one spot, English keeps on moving.  New words are constantly popping up; older words suddenly fall out of fashion and eventually disappear.  A new word isn’t bad just because it’s new. And a word that’s been used for centuries isn’t a good one just because Shakespeare used it.  We, as writers, don’t really get to judge.  We just need to stay on the train and hopefully not derail.

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  1. I get that languages evolve or we would still be speaking Westphalian Saxon. But on the other hand, anything uttered by a teenager is not necessarily about to become a word that’s going to move the language forward or anywhere. Slang pops in and out of the language and there’s as much — if not more — obsolete slang as any other kind of obsoleteness. Just saying — every word kids say for a few years here and there is not necessarily where the language is going. I think a word needs to hang around for a generation before it becomes an official “word.” It needs to outlast the people who invented it in the first place.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It has outlasted the person who invented it. It’s being used by people in their teens through thirties (I am going by how old the person looks in their Instagram feed). Celebrities (even older ones than 30) and corporations are using the word. In general, in talking to people, the people in Arizona that I’ve talked to, the twenty something crowd and younger know it whether or not they are into social networks. The people over thirty don’t unless they are very wired into social networks. Of interest to me in social networks is the vocabulary is different than in books and blogging. I don’t particularly like the phrase “on fleek” but I am interested in how vocabulary is different in various formats and how vocabulary is transmitted across culture. Of interest to me is how new sounding words causes more of an uproar among traditional English adherents versus new words that are created from cobbling old words together or from just adding a new meaning to an old word. Also of interest is the age prejudice towards who makes a new word — a word created by a middle-aged journalist is more acceptable to many than one made by a teenager. I find the whole phenomena interesting


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