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TWTS: Everybody "takes the L" sometimes

Sometimes a not-so-great experience can be made just a bit better if you have an excellent slang phrase to describe it.

We think "take the L" falls right into that category.

Some of us in the more, ahem, mature set may not be familiar with this phrase. Fortunately, English Professor Anne Curzan has plenty of students who are always happy to clue us in. As they tell us, "take the L" means "take the loss." 

Here's an example of when this phrase might come in handy.

You've been up half the night studying for a test. At some point, you realize you're never going to learn all the information before you have to take the test in the morning. So, you decide to give up and go to bed. In other words, you take the L.

This is a pretty versatile phrase, even for those of us a little further on in our lives.

When Curzan told a friend who works at the University of Michigan about "take the L," she said, "Oh, that's like when you have initiative when you're really excited about, and you can't get anybody else on board, and you really should just take the L."

On the flip side, you can also "take the dub." That's "dub" as in the letter "W."

You might use this phrase when asking someone out. You could say, "I asked her out, and I got the dub." Or, in another workplace example, you might use this phrase after a successfull meeting with your boss. "I asked for a raise, and I got the dub."

What words or phrases do you hear the kids saying these days? Or, if you are one of those younger folks, what are you and your friends saying right now?

Anne Curzan is the Geneva Smitherman Collegiate Professor of English and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan. She also holds faculty appointments in the Department of Linguistics and the School of Education.
Rebecca Kruth is the host of All Things Considered at Michigan Public. She also co-hosts Michigan Public's weekly language podcast That’s What They Say with English professor Anne Curzan.
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