what does mewing mean

Scrolling in the Deep: Why the kids are ‘mewing’

Subscribe to web_crawlr to get your internet slang defined before everyone else.


Gisselle Hernandez


Scrolling in the deep is a weekly column that tells defines internet slang you need to know to operate online. It runs on Wednesdays in the Daily Dot’s web_crawlr newsletter—but only our most dedicated readers get it.

If you want to get this column a week before we publish it, subscribe to web_crawlr, where you’ll get the daily scoop of internet culture delivered straight to your inbox.

Leave it to Gen Alpha (those born between 2010 and 2024) to completely alter the meaning of a term millennials were sure they had a handle on. The Daily Dot previously covered “mewing” back in 2020, when the practice first became popular as a fitness trend among those wanting to define their jawline or reduce their double chin. 

Now, the newer generations have taken hold of this term and turned it into a slang that has middle-school teachers scratching their heads.

What does ‘mewing’ mean?

The original definition of mewing refers to a facial exercise where those wanting a chiseled side profile press their tongue against the roof of their closed mouth

The idea behind the practice is that “those areas in the face causes the corresponding muscles to tighten and define.” Several content creators specializing in “face yoga” swear by the technique, despite there being little science to back it up.

The term even found its way into “incel” communities, where these “involuntary celibate” men were having plastic surgery and doing face exercises in order to change their attractiveness

However, “mewing” has now evolved into a punchline sixth graders use when they want to avoid a question, or simply tease a fellow classmate.

What is ‘mewing’ (Gen Alpha’s Version)?

Searching up the term “mewing” on TikTok will result in frustrated middle school teachers venting about students incessantly doing this action in class. 

Over the past several months, the “exercise” has turned into a nonverbal gesture that basically means, “I don’t want to talk to you.”

While the core of mewing remains the same–tightening the jawline–Gen Alpha uses it as a way to say they’re too busy mewing to talk to you.

Executed with a “shushing” gesture and then tracing the jawline with a finger, Gen Alpha’s mewing signifies that they wish to stay mum.

The gesture, while seemingly playful, has been called disrespectful by teachers across the country, especially in classroom settings. 

One teacher, Mr. Lindsey, who is popular on TikTok for his classroom content, has even provided an explainer on how to spot “mewing.” 


Another teacher, Teresa Kaye Newman, claims the trend has pushed her to consider quitting in a video with over 7 million views

Questions directed at students go unanswered, followed by the mewing gesture, leaving teachers feeling clueless and like a fast one has been pulled over them. Newman went so far as to accuse teenagers of mewing as a “way to avoid accountability” and not participate in the classroom.


What is the “mewing” gesture, why are students mewing their teachers, and why is it harmful and disruptive to the learning environment? #teacher

♬ original sound – Newman Music Academy

How to use ‘mewing’

While mewing is mostly directed at adults, teachers in the know have found a way to flip the table when a student mews—doing it back to them.

“I threw that one back at a student the other day. I told him less yapping, more mewing, and did the gesture. He was shook,” one user commented under Mr. Lindsey’s TikTok.

Another wrote, “I’m mewing every time they ask if can they go to the bathroom.”

One even admitted to seeking revenge when a teen mews, commenting, “Every time they do the mewing…everyone clear your desk it’s pop quiz time.”

You may not want to go that far, but at least you’ll know why kids are suddenly obsessed with pointing out their prepubescent jawlines.

If you want to get this column a week before we publish it, subscribe to web_crawlr, where you’ll get the daily scoop of internet culture delivered straight to your inbox.

The Daily Dot