Can you speak TikTok?

From VSCO to soft boys, there's a whole new lingo to get your head around
Can you speak TikTok?

If you’ve heard of TikTok but don’t know quite what it is, let us explain.

A bit like YouTube, a bit like Instagram stories, and a bit like the now-defunct Vine, the app involves users uploading short videos to the platform so they can be viewed by others, 500 million (and counting) others to be exact.

While YouTube and Instagram stories are pretty much self-explanitory and feel as conventional as watching TV at this point, TikTok has its own niche language that helps users navigate the app, but if you’re not down with the lingo it can be difficult to make sense of it.

So while an overwhelming amount of new trends and personalities pop up every day, there are a couple of common phrases that will help you attempt to get some headway.

Here's a few to get you started:


Cringe videos are possibly the most obvious element of TikTok, and refer to videos of users pulling awkward faces while trying to act seriously.


Forget everything you think you know about duets – TikTok’s version involve users taking other people’s videos and adding a comment or reaction to the end.

VSCO girls

We’ve written about them before (natch) but to refresh your memory, the term “VSCO girl” is used to describe girls who don’t wear a lot of make-up but get their nails done, only drink from metal straws, and wear Birkenstock Arizona’s, scrunchies and shell necklaces.

E girls and E boys

Emo girls and boys of the Noughties, meet E girls and E boys, your wallet chain and beanie wearing Gen Z replacement.

Soft girls

Known for wearing pastel crop tops and mom jeans, soft girls are also partial to painting cute stars or rainbows on their faces. 

Soft boys

The perfect accompaniment to soft girls, the male version love a plaid shirt worn over a plain white T-shirt. Think boyband and you’ll be on the right track.