An unfamiliar word fills the air, befuddling the olds: "swag." But what does the slang term mean, and where does it come from? Best learn the meaning of "swag," old person, before you are sent off to the cultural death panel.
Last week, the "Swag" fever sweeping our country's younger populations finally bled into the world of old people. In a marketing stunt, Diddy, arguably old people's favorite rapper, changed his name to "Swag." And the New Yorker, arguably old people's favorite magazine, attempted to define the term in an article about the rap group Odd Future. Someday soon, one of your kids is going to thank you for the "swag" birthday present, if they haven't already. Be prepared, with our Old Person's Guide to 'Swag':
Swag is good
When you old people want to express approval, you might say something like: "My new 401K plan is really cool." But "cool" is no longer cool! Swag is "cool." Anything worth doing, eating or buying is "swag." Says Twitter user Dashaun: "Christian Louboutin loafers with the spikes. Thats really swag."
Swag is a lot of things
But Swag isn't just the new "cool." New Yorker writer Kelefa Sanneh says Swag is "a noun, an adjective, a verb, and an all-purpose expression of agreement or endorsement." One might say to one's friend, "whoa, I'm loving your swag."
We asked some real, live young people who used "swag" on Twitter to define the word, and they all gave slightly different responses. (Twitter is where post-recession teens hang out instead of the mall.)
@BELIEBEReas: well swag is like the way u are like how you walk talk dress and present yourself :) ie its a good thing :) hope that helped lol
@Bhavishaa_: It means cool. LOL
Swag comes from hip hop
Remember when all you old people started calling everything "da bomb" because rappers you liked said it back in the 90s? Swag comes from hip hop, too. "Swagger," meaning superlative style, has of course been around forever. But "Swag" as a catchphrase can generally be attributed to rappers Soulja Boy and Lil B. Soulja Boy boasts about his "Pretty Boy Swag." In his song "Wonton Soup," Lil B decouples swag from any relation to style, and he just throws "swag" at the end of every sentence like a period. Tyler, the Creator, rap prodigy du jour, thinks everything is swag.
Swag is huge on Twitter
Even if you avoid young people in real life, you will inevitably run into "swag" on the internet. "Swag" is as much a hashtag as a catchphrase: #Swag on Twitter features a never-ending stream of teen cultural touchstones (useful for old people who make a living financially exploiting young people). This is no coincidence, as the careers of both Lil B and Soulja Boy are inseparable from their social media presences. Just yesterday, Justin Bieber, Boy King of Twitter, wrote: "My fans have serious #swag."
Swag is dead
[Image of Lil B via Getty]