[Guest post by Taylor Jones]
For anyone who's been living under a rock for the past few months, there is a term, "on fleek," that has been around since at least 2003, but which caught like wildfire on social media after June 21, 2014, when Vine user Peaches Monroe made a video declaring her eyebrows "on fleek."
Since then, the apparently non-compositional phrase on fleek has been wildly popular, and has generated the usual discussion: both declarations that it is literally the worst and "should die," and heated debates about what exactly on fleek even means. People seem to be divided on the question of whether it's synonymous with "on point." There is also a great deal of disagreement as to what can and cannot be on fleek, with "eyebrows" now the prototype against which things are measured.
After a conversation with a linguistics student at NYU, I decided to look at other syntactic constructions, thinking it possible — in principle — to generalize from on fleek to other constructions. Lo and behold, there is a minority of negative-minded people who describe others, snarkily, as "off fleek," (haters). More interestingly, Southern California is getting fleeked out.
Geocoded tweets using variations of fleek. Toronto, you're not fooling anyone.
This is interesting because it suggests that "on fleek" is being re-interpreted, and that it is not necessarily rigidly fixed for all speakers as an idiom. Moreover, it looks like LA is leading the first move away from strictly adhering to the idiom "on fleek," by extending the use of "fleek" to the stereotypically Californian construction of [x]-ed out.
Geocoded tweets using "fleek" in California. Las Vegas, you're not fooling anyone.
I'm looking forward to watching this develop, just as we can watch bae developing (one can now be baeless, for instance). I'm also looking forward to the day one can get a fleek over, or get one's fleek on.
[Above is a guest post by Taylor Jones]