Why does your kid call you ‘bruh?'


You may have heard this word from your kid when they’re annoyed, frustrated, amused or all of the above. Now you’re wondering what it actually means.

“Bruh” means “bro” and “can be used to address anybody,” according to Bark.us, a company that decodes teenage slang.

Urban Dictionary, meanwhile, primarily defines “bruh” as “the best answer to literally everything.”

The site devotes five pages to examples: A response to a “stupid” or obvious comment, a general greeting or a sign of exasperation, disappointment or disbelief. “Bruh” can substitute for “What?” or be used “just because.”

Kelly Elizabeth Wright, a postdoctoral research fellow in language sciences at Virginia Tech, points to more sweeping definitions.

Merriam-Webster tells us that ‘bruh’ is a shortening of ‘brother,’ dating the first usage to 1894 and attributing it to the origins of the same Black Southern dialects which gave us the ‘brer’ in Brer Rabbit,” she tells TODAY.com. “It also notes the form’s development as a friendly and familiar form of address, expanding quite rapidly from exclusive reference to brothers or even male kin.”

Wright added that The Oxford English Dictionary documented “the term’s usage in scripted media such as plays and television to indicate working class or a rough-around-the-edges character.”

“Bruh” can also be used to insult — in the 2001 film “Zoolander,” Owen Wilson’s model character Hansel McDonald clashes with Ben Stiller’s Derek Zoolander at a club saying, “Excuse me, bruh.”

Why are kids saying ‘bruh?’

According to Wright, “bruh” doesn’t replace terms like “dude” or “you guys” but is interchangeable for some. Bruh can also be used as a general form of address to a general listening audience.

“Parents are likely a general listening audience for their children, which means they probably aren’t referring to parents as peers as such but rather as residents of a shared domicile or interpreters of a shared experience,” she says.

Emily Kline, a Boston psychologist and author of “The School of Hard Talks: How to Have Real Conversations with Your (Almost Grown) Kids,” tells TODAY.com that some kids say “bruh” to test their parents’ boundaries.

Kids reveal their underlying emotions with “bruh,” according to Francyne Zeltser, the clinical director of psychology, training and special projects at Manhattan Psychology Group.

“Bruh is not a noun — it’s equivalent to an annoyed or exasperated, ‘Mooooooooom,'” explains Zeltser. “However, when used among friends, it can indicate excitement, surprise or is a sign of endearment.”

Ask a child, says Zeltser, and they’ll explain it’s “just a thing.”

Is ‘bruh’ disrespectful to parents?

“It depends on your expectations for interacting with your child and the context,” says Zeltser.

If you say something “parental” to your child like, “Do your homework,” says Zeltser, responding with “bruh” would come off as rude.

If parents don’t like being called “bruh,” Zeltser recommends talking it out. “Directly tell your child, ‘My name is mom, not bruh,” she says. “Or, respond in a similar manner, which tends to curb the behavior.”

This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY:


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