"Airtight" Has Become a Popular Slang Term on TikTok, but What Does It Mean?


Jan. 23 2024, Published 11:25 a.m. ET

An airtight water bottle
Source: Getty Images

Anyone who has spent any time on TikTok in recent years is almost definitely aware that the platform is often a vehicle for introducing slang terms to a much wider audience. If a popular creator uses a certain word on the platform, that word then begins to circulate and a wide audience will see the term and may even be confused by it.

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If you've ever found yourself in that position, you should know that you aren't alone. Plenty of people are confused by the language of TikTok, in part because it's always evolving and changing. For example, some users have started to use the word "airtight," and now, users who are seeing the phrase want to better understand what it means.

TikTok logo against a black backdrop
Source: Getty Images
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What does "airtight" mean on TikTok?

The original and most literal meaning of airtight refers to a pocket of air that is vacuum-sealed. You might say that a piece of Tupperware is airtight, for example, because the container doesn't allow any air in or out of it.

That literal meaning has given way over the years to more metaphorical uses of the word. You might describe an argument as airtight, for example, if there are no holes or counterpoints that can be poked in it.

Now, as it's being used on TikTok, airtight typically refers to anything that's flawless or has no holes. This could be an argument, but it could be something like a look or even a person's basketball shot. The term is meant as a compliment and it's a pretty close synonym to something like "perfect." Basically, it means that you've seen something and are impressed by it.

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If you've ever used the phrase "no notes," which is meant to suggest that something is so good that there's nothing you could do to improve it, you might intuitively understand what airtight means. The terms are closely related and are essentially different ways to say that something is perfect as is without any edits or changes.

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Airtight isn't necessarily a new phrase.

Unlike some of the phrases that have come directly out of TikTok, airtight was very much in the vernacular before the platform rolled around. The word was used most frequently about arguments, but it already migrated away from its most obvious meaning and was being used in other scenarios and for other reasons.

There are plenty of words, though, that are created on TikTok or come to take on a whole new meaning there. Everything from elaborate acronyms to phrases like "gyatt," which aren't actually words, have gotten popular there and made their way into the real world.

Language is always growing and changing, and much of that change has been happening in recent years on TikTok. It can be difficult to keep up, but whenever you're confused, you should at least feel comforted by the knowledge that you're definitely not the only one who doesn't know what's going on.

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