In a decade that saw a massive expansion in social media, slang is spreading faster than ever. As a result we have many complex, historied terms that might set us apart — or make us look old in front of our kids later on.

Of course, we have no way of knowing which ones are which now, but as 2020 draws nearer, we can certainly look back at the past decade of slang terms and take a guess at which ones will be remembered most fondly, or get the most continued use. One of them is “Flex”.

We all know the term “flex” in the context of flexing a muscle, but this metaphorical slang term applies that same spirit to anything you might want to flaunt — most often status. To flex is “to show off”, and as a noun, a flex is a specific instance of showing off.

Ice Cube was an early user of flex in this context in his 1992 song “It Was a Good Day,” but the term began seeing serious spikes in internet usage around 2013.

What’s interesting about the word flex is that, unlike the words “brag” and “show off,” it does not have a strictly negative connotation. One could say “I had to flex on ‘em,” as a way of saying “I had to show them what I’m capable of.” It’s not strictly positive, either, but the fact that it can be seen as impressive is an interesting shift.

Of course, there’s also the devastating spin-off dismissal “Weird flex but ok,” a phrase used when somebody is showing off about something that really isn’t worth bragging about. The phrase “weird flex but OK,” has become a Twitter meme used to call out instances when one’s bragging about an accomplishment or other piece of information seems inappropriate for the occasion or raises more questions than answers about the person making the claim.

The first known use of “weird flex but ok” occurred in December 2017, when a college student named Finn Feighery replied to a post by the human rights activist Malala Yousafzai with a sarcastic response to a tweet listing the highlights of the year previous.

In 2014, the hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd released their first single, titled “No Flex Zone”; that phrase has since come to refer to a place where the posturing and aggressiveness that can be associated with flexing are tempered down, leaving a chill environment for all.

Following in the footsteps of flex is stunt, a verb that also describes showing off with an over-the-top action, often one with a particular target as an audience.

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