I know, right?

It’s one of my favorite new slang phrases. Surely you’ve heard it uttered by one of the youngish people in your life in response to, well, anything you say with which they might agree. “It’s a gorgeous day!” … “I know, right?” Or, “You should do your homework.” … “I know, right?” Or, “What a great class today.” … “I know, right?”

Honestly, the phrase is everywhere because it works perfectly (as you’ll soon hear, if you haven’t tuned into it already) after any statement, exclamation, proclamation or assertion. “I love The Scroll.” … “I know, right?” And of course, “St. Thomas is the best.” … “I know, right?”

I’m often wary of slang in certain contexts or of a certain variety (okay, usually I don’t like slang I can’t pronounce, don’t understand or am too embarrassed to try), but I’m rather fond of this latest conversational concoction.

While an early critique of tag-questions in speech suggested the speaker might be perceived as weaker or unsure (e.g., “I think we should do it this way, okay?”), this latest iteration of a well-positioned tag-question seems somehow more interpersonally impressive and efficacious. Maybe it’s because I’m seeing it as akin to an interpersonal expression of empathy or other-centeredness. Instead of just stating what you believe, you now have a chance to agree and give the other person one more chance to do so, too. It’s almost like a verbal applause + an encore, packaged neatly in one easy, off-the-tongue phrase.

And when it comes to competent interpersonal communication, the world could use a little more other-centeredness. I know, right?

3 Responses

  1. John Barron, St. Paul

    I love this: It’s almost like a verbal applause + an encore, packaged neatly in one easy, off-the-tongue phrase.

    Not only is that slang phrase verbally economical, your description of it is, too. Not “economical,” as in short (necessarily), but economical, as in “value-laden” and rich. Cheers!

  2. Brooke, St. Paul

    The first time I can remember hearing the phrase “I know, right?” was in 2004, and since then it has found its way into my everyday life.

    In 2004, “Mean Girls” was released. Tina Fey wrote, what I would argue, is one of the greatest movies of its decade, if not century.

    Although I doubt Tina Fey is the original crafter of the phrase, she is – without a doubt- the reason that “I know, right?” is still around. Besides just being catchy, the humorous connotation and cocky attitude it presents brings a little spark of sunshine into everyday conversation.

    My parents and even my grandparents have watched and enjoyed “Mean Girls” with me. Tina Fey is able to appeal to multiple generations and bring her movie to life by her pure genius. I know, right?

  3. Alyssa Anderson

    I hate “I know, right?”! It is annoying the first time, but like you said, people are using it constantly in response to everything. That’s just plain grating.