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WTF Does “Rizz” Even Mean?

In the age of incessant trends, it’s no wonder Gen Z has a whole new set of vocabulary — especially when it comes to dating. From “cuffing season” to “situationship,” we’re known to be a little ~creative~ and insistent on defining virtually any kind of romantic encounter we have. So, you’re probably not shocked to learn that as of late, there’s another word to learn in order to navigate the dating world without confusion (or, more realistically, our TikTok FYPs).

If you’ve been on TikTok at all recently, odds are you’ve come across this new Gen Z-made dating term: “Rizz.” And you’re probably super confused and a bit disgusted, as I was when I watched (or, better yet, scrolled past) the first rizz video I saw. But when more users started using the word and thus disrupting my experience on TikTok, I figured I may as well add it to my vocabulary.

For those of you who are like me, confused at what rizz is, and even more baffled at why there’s yet another needless slang term out there, look no further. It’s time to get to the bottom of this, and figure out not only what rizz means, but also where the hell it came from.

So, what is rizz?

If you’ve already seen a few videos of rizz, odds are you’ve been able to deduce the meaning. Essentially, rizz can be defined as the amount of skill someone (usually a guy) has in picking up another person. It’s basically another word for “game,” as in, “That guy has game” — but it’s arguably more fun to say. 

Normally, videos using the word rizz will display someone trying to pick up a person in a creative or amusing way, and the caption (and comments) will brag that the guy’s rizz is “pure,” “unmatchable,” or any other enthusiastic adjective you can think of. For example, in one video, a guy chats with a girl in line, asking her what she ordered; then, after telling her she’s cute, he asks for her number — and I guess he’s got rizz, because she says yes.

Where did the term rizz come from?

As with any new trending term, it’s hard to deduce where it exactly came from, but according to The Tab, the word rizz comes to us from YouTube comedian Kai Cenat

On Nov. 12, 2021, he uploaded an hour-long YouTube video called “KAI CENAT OPENS RIZZ ACADEMY,” which now has over 700,000 views. In the video, he teaches viewers how to improve their rizz — that is to say, how to succeed at picking up girls. Since then, the term has exploded on TikTok, with countless users using the word as the basis of their videos. 

Is rizz a good thing?

Although rizz is now used to describe anyone who can effectively pick someone up, the apparent creator of the term has since clarified that the word rizz is reserved for the people who succeed at picking someone up even after they’ve rejected them.

I hate to be a buzzkill, but using rizz in the original way it was intended (AKA persistently trying to pick up a girl even after she’s said no) isn’t cool. It’s not something to aspire to, and most importantly, it’s not a reason to go hitting on a bunch of women. In my opinion, it’s just another excuse for men to continue harassing a woman even when she says “no.” Her Campus reached out to Cenat for comment, but did not hear back by the time of publication.

Although many girls in these videos end up responding well, causing a flood of compliments to the guy who picked her up (like “bro’s got rizz”), there are countless women who don’t respond well at first, and are then persuaded into taking the guy’s number. If rizz is just a glamorized way of refusing to listen and neglecting to be respectful when you’re rejected, it’s certainly not something to aspire to, and it’s actually dangerous for the dating world — especially for the women who’d prefer to be left alone.

As someone who’s been hit on in public countless times, I can confirm that rizz is just not the dating term nor the trend Gen Zers should be engaging in. So, I don’t know about you, but I’ll be sitting this one out, waiting for the next wave of dating trends to arrive, and hoping the next one is more respectful.

Abby is a National Writer for Her Campus and the Editor-in-Chief of Her Campus at Waterloo. As part of the Wellness team, she covers topics related to mental health and relationships, but also frequently writes about digital trends, career advice, current events, and more. In her articles, she loves solving online debates, connecting with experts, and reflecting on her own experiences. She is also passionate about spreading the word about important cultural issues such as climate change and women’s rights; these are topics she frequently discusses in her articles. Abby began producing digital content at BuzzFeed, where she now has over 300 posts and 60 million overall views. Since then, she has also written for various online publications such as Thought Catalog, Collective World, and Unpacked. In addition to writing, Abby is also a UX and content designer; she most frequently spends her days building innovative, creative digital experiences. She has other professional experiences ranging from marketing to graphic design. When she’s not writing, Abby can be found reading the newest Taylor Jenkins Reid book, watching The Office, or eating pizza. She’s also been a dancer since she was four years old, and has most recently become obsessed with taking spin classes.