Zennial – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Do you need to find a specific word or term that refers to someone who was born between the years 1992 and 1998 – someone who is not quite a milennial in age, but fits somewhere between one generation and the next? You could say ‘Zennial’ to fit that entire paragraph into one word. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this term.

Meaning

The term ‘Zennial’ is a neologistic portmanteau that mixes together the word ‘Generation Z’ and the word ‘Millenial’  to form a new creation. The result of the portmanteau, like most of this word type, describes something that is a result of both combined words.

‘Zennial’ is the accepted singular use, while ‘Zennials‘ is the accepted plural term.

While the term ‘Millenial’ is credited to Neil Howe and William Strauss in the late 1980s, the term ‘Zennial’ has become a common word that is used to describe people who were born between the years 1992 and 1998.

A ‘Zennial’ is anyone who was born between 1992 and 1998, with their birth happening after the nineties dotcom boom, but before the official end of the infamous Y2K panic.

Zennials are defined by fast-evolving upbringing, often with access to technology such as the internet and social media.

Example Usage

“The Meta-bot might think that Zuckerburg is creepy to deal with, but that’s not what opinion polls imagine that most Zennials think of Zuckerberg. It’s practically thanks to all of them that Zuckerberg is so rich!”

“Just think about what you’re going to say about your childhood in the next forty years from now. As a Zennial, you won’t be able to describe what music sounded like on vinyl to whatever we’re going to call the next generation on the list.”

“If you were born just after the Cubs won anything big, you’ll know that you were a little too old to be calling yourself a Zennial at all.”

“If you want to think about the next generation of investors who are going to be on the Forbes list, then we should probably look at Zennials. These kids are practically in business before they’re in diapers.”

Origin

The term ‘Zennial’ was first used by writer Sarah Stankorb as a word that describes an emerging new generation that does not fit into any of the other popular defined generations, such as Generation X, Y or Z.

Sarah Stankorb was writing an article for GOOD Magazine in September 2014, where the term ‘Zennial’ was used first. The term ‘Zennial’ would soon appear elsewhere, and its usage became more common on the internet and social media boards like Reddit.

The term owes at least some of its origin to the origin terms, from which the portmanteau is derived. The word ‘Millenial’ was first used by Neil Howe and William Strauss.

The earlier term ‘Generation Y’ is credited to the publication Advertising Age who first used the term in an August, 1993 article.

Without the earlier terms, the portmanteau ‘Zennial’ would not have existed.

Phrases Similar to Zennial

  • Milennial
  • Xennial
  • Generation-Z
  • Born-Free

Phrases Opposite to Zennial

  • Boomer
  • Generation-X
  • Generation-Y

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Zennial
  • Zennials

Ways People May Say Zennial Incorrectly

The term ‘Zennial’ can be used the wrong way when it refers to anyone who falls outside the defined birth gap of the Zennial generation and thus falls into a different bracket.

If you are too old or young to be a Zennial, then you are called something else – like a Boomer or Generation-Y.

The term ‘Zennial’ is used as a general term, but the turn-of-phrase can also turn the term into an insult depending on the context and the rest of the sentence.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Zennial

The word ‘Zennial’ can be used to refer to anyone who was born between 1992 and 1998, though some resources ascribe a different age gap for its definition.

The correct way to use ‘Zennial’ refers to people, usually as a descriptive word (“He/she is a Zennial.”)

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