Smol: adj. Slang word

General Denotation: Smol is often used to refer to something that is not only extremely small, but also adorable.

Pronunciation: smohl, rhymes with “coal.”

Etymology: Smol is a misspelling of the word ‘small’ popularized over social media in mid-2015. While the first use of the word is unclear, it was largely popularized by fans of the band Twenty One Pilots, who referred to the lead singer, Tyler Joseph, as a “smol bean” in twitter and tumblr posts.

tyler josephsFor examples of its use, see this Buzzfeed article.

Sociolectal information: While it was popularized largely through social media, the word ‘smol’ has become widespread enough that it can be regularly heard in everyday conversations, though it remains popular primarily with teenagers and young adults. The Google Trends chart below shows it’s growing popularity beginning in mid-2015.

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 6.28.19 PM

Survival Predictions: While the word has gained much popularity within the past year, I don’t think that it will survive. While the word does convey a specific meaning, I think there are other, more prevalent words that have very similar denotations. If it does survive, I think it will be limited largely to social media because of its similarity in pronunciation to the word ‘small.’

Lexopinions: I like this word because the word itself seems to convey its meaning — it’s small and it sounds cute. Although it has been popular since mid 2015, I had not heard it used until the beginning of 2016. And while it is popular on social media,  I have also heard people use the word in day to day conversation, however, because it there is already a word conveying the same meaning with a similar pronunciation, I do not think it will last.


  1. kesandberg says:

    This is a great choice for a word! I have definitely seen it used all the time on social media, especially Tumblr, and I also really like that the word’s form seems to convey its meaning. The video is great and asks some good questions, and I like the graph that you included about the word’s usage.

    Maybe you could add some examples of social media posts that use the word smol? And it might also be a good idea to discuss the connotations/debate over the term: are there people that really dislike it and its growing popularity? Why do people that like to use it enjoy using it? And as far as sociolectal information goes, maybe you could elaborate on communities within social media itself like Tumblr which use the word the most? Just some suggestions if you need more to add to your post!

    Overall, a really great post-and great word choice!

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