You’re at home and the roll of paper towels falls off the counter after you reach for it, rapidly unraveling itself all over the kitchen floor. “Mood,” your teen says nonchalantly in response to the clumsy accident. What could they possibly mean by that?
In spite of its seemingly harsh, single-worded nature, the word isn’t meant as an insult when directed at another person. Actually, it’s quite the opposite.
The cultural denotation of the word “mood” has been in circulation for a number of years now. A community of black Twitter users—informally referred to as Black Twitter—coined the term in 2015 as a short and sweet way to say “how I feel right now.”
Online and in real life, “mood” has largely replaced the words “relatable” or “same” among teens and tweens alike. A video of a puppy struggling to stay awake can often prompt young viewers to utter it without much explanation.
Aside from seeing pictures or videos of instances teens can “relate” to, hearing other’s experiences can also elicit a number of “moods” from young listeners. One might “mood” a friend after they admit “I procrastinated so much last night that I fell asleep before I got any homework done.”
So rather than to insult, people use the word to express how they feel and even to empathize with struggling peers—since it also translates to “I felt that.”
Like with the fallen paper towel roll, teens also use the word as a joke to nonsensically relate inanimate phenomena with human experience. For instance, someone might post a picture of an explosive fire hydrant leakage and caption it with the lone four-letter word.
Bigger, But Not Necessarily Better
Just as relatability exists in a spectrum, so do “moods.” To emphasize identifiability, many like to react with “big mood” in response to a photo, video, or experience they relate with.
The now less commonly used “mood af” expresses a similar sentiment. “Af” being short for “as f**k,” “mood af” conveys a similar emphatic sense as its less vulgar cousin, “big mood.”