What Does “Rizz” Mean—and Why Is It a Concerning Trend When It Comes to Consent?

“I have negative rizz,” one of my friends declared over pancakes Saturday morning. We were at brunch recapping the night before when he threw out the term as casually as he was applying syrup to his silver dollars. “You have negative what?” I asked. He proceeded to retell a saga about the night before, describing his attempts to pick up a cute girl at a bar—only to be met with rejection. “So, I guess rizz means ‘having game,’” he summarized. “And I have zero of it.” 

Since then, I’ve seen the term thrown all over TikTok. People writing, “he’s the rizzler” or “rizz is unmatched” in the comments section of videos where men pick up women on the street. But I couldn’t help but wonder (Carrie Bradshaw style), is “rizz” just a passing language fad or does our rhetoric have deeper ties to the way men are approaching women these days? 

Below, find a breakdown of what rizz means, and how it might be contributing to a larger, toxic theme in modern dating (as if we needed another one). 

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What Does Rizz Mean?

Rizz is basically just slang for having charisma. The word is typically used to describe heterosexual men—often by other heterosexual men—who charm and seduce women into falling for them (or at the very least, go home with them). 

Where Does It Come From?

Originally coined by a Twitch streamer and YouTuber named Kai Cenat, the content creator expressed on the No Jumper podcast that “TikTok has butchered the word.” In fact, Cenat shared his intention for the word: “The official definition of rizz is when you’re talking to a girl and, at first, [things] aren’t going your way,” Cenat explained. “It's looking bad for you…until you start spitting game to the point where you’re ‘rizzing’ (or rising) the girl up.” Rizzing, according to Cenat, is the art of the comeback. 

How Is the Term Being Used?

If the above is any indication, rizz’s definition is ever-evolving. At first, it was introduced as a comeback term for when you’re “down bad,” per Cenat. But today, rizz is generally used to describe someone who’s suave; effortlessly confident in the way they attract women. This spans from TikTok, where high schoolers practice their rizz at Walmart to Reddit threads that feature extensive lists of “rizzionaries,” from Barack Rizzbama and Franklin D Rizzevelt to Rizz Hendricks and Alvin and the Rizzmunks. (Pete Davidson has also become synonymous with the term, thanks to his track record with Kim Kardashian and Kate Beckinsale).

It’s also worth mentioning that the internet has developed its own variations of rizz. First, you have “unspoken rizz,” which refers to someone who can pique the interest of a romantic conquest without words—it’s their mere presence that draws them in (though, according to Centat, this doesn’t qualify as rizz;  verbal communication is a vital part of the process). Then, as mentioned above, there’s also “negative rizz,” which my guy friend aptly described as “having zero game.” 

Regardless of its usage, however, the general connotation of rizz seems to have mushroomed into a hyper-masculine, Brad and Chad version of let’s go hunting in the woods. Comments all over TikTok span from “Bro majoring in rizzology” to “professor rizz,” which speak to a collective camaraderie over ‘bagging’ women, for lack of a better term. It’s essentially become the dating equivalent of Tom Brady scoring a touchdown.

Why Rizz Feels Problematic

After Cenat offered the official definition of rizz, host, Adam Grandmaison, jumped on the idea, “To meet a girl who says it’s a no—she's not [going home] with you—and then to turn the no into a yes by showing her more of your personality (or the game you got)…that's an incredible thing. That's the beauty of being a man.” Whatever Grandmaison’s intentions, lauding men for changing a woman’s “no” to “yes” not only disregards consent, but makes a game of it. Plus, it feeds pre-pubescent boys (i.e., TikTok’s most active audience) an impression that manhandling a woman without consent is OK. 

The alpha male sentiment behind rizz coincides with ‘Sigma,’ another trending slang term that’s used to describe highly self-reliant and independent men “in masculinist subcultures,” per (and spoiler: it’s ten times worse than rizz). Ruchira Sharma, a writer for British GQ, says now, young males on TikTok are glorifying American Psycho's Patrick Bateman for “his hustle mindset,” wealth, aggressive gym routine and contempt for women. “[It’s] an unsurprising amalgamation of TikTok's most popular trends, packaging together self-care and self-help for men with buzzy pop-culture references,” Sharma explains. 

The Bottom Line: 

Consent inherently can’t be forced, and it can be revoked at any given point. Life’s too short to humor Patrick Bateman wannabes (and it’s probably best to make a graceful exit before you become a human skin suit). If someone denies your advances, respect those boundaries.

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Associate Editor

Sydney Meister is PureWow's Associate Editor, covering everything from dating trends and relationship advice (here's looking at you, 'soonicorns') to interior design, beauty...