Illustration by Zeyd Anwar; New Politic

“Wys” has become an increasingly common greeting. In a British context, the acronym stands for “What [are] you saying”, similar to “What’s up” or “How are you doing?” The correct response is to respond what you are up to, or how you are feeling.

The acronym “wys” is often paired with “b” as “wys b”, the “b” standing for bro, brother, babe or boo — or any other relational term. It can also often be paired with “wys g” — the “g” standing for “gangster” (itself often written as “gangsta”).

The greeting is usually used by the younger generations. Indeed, on one forum, a 30-year-old man complains that his inability to understand what “wys” means may be showing his age. “There’s an increasingly common greeting that I’ve been hearing: ‘What you saying?’” someone with the username @MetroMan writes. “How do I reply to that?? I may be showing my age (I’m 30) but I seriously don’t know what to reply to that. Some dude greeted me like that in the elevator and then looked at [me] for a response…Me: blank look. Any younger members here that can give me some insight?” Another poster with the username @jn_12 gives a simple response: “I don’t think I’ve heard this before…but just say ‘not much’ and all will be fine.”

According to some, the phrase “wys” arose during the mid-2000s. Although unverified, it has been said that the term is originated from the Black British community, which then slowly seeped its way into mainstream society.

“Wys” can, however, also mean different things in different contexts. For example, it can mean “whatever you say”, “what’s your status”, “what you said”, and even stand for more offensive phrases such as “wow, you’re stupid.”

If you’re ever confused, perhaps it’s always better to ask the person who said it. A simple question mark should suffice.