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‘Rizz’: What it means, who has it and how to find your own

By Scottie Andrew, CNN

(CNN) — “Does this ratty T-shirt diminish my rizz?”

“I’m going to rizz up a cutie at the party tonight.” 

“I’d love to have a modicum of the rizz that Gandalf the Grey has.”

“Rizz” is a relatively young word — it’s been circulating online since 2021 — but one that’s cemented its place in the cultural lexicon. It can describe one’s self-assurance, wooing prowess or general coolness. It’s hard to define but immediately noticeable in practice.

And unless you have a TikTok-fluent person in your life, it probably sounds like gibberish. Here’s what you need to know about the slang word-turned-catchall descriptor for someone with undeniable swag.

Rizz meaning

“Rizz” is, basically, a truncated version of “charisma” that refers to one’s unique swagger and overall success in endeavors both platonic and romantic. It can be used to describe a stereotypical “ladies’ man,” like Ryan Gosling’s character in the rom-com “Crazy Stupid Love,” or the general swagger one brings to everyday life, like Ryan Gosling on the press tour for “Barbie.” “Rizz” is that “je ne sais quoi” quality that describes someone self-possessed and assured of their own awesomeness who inspires others to develop their own confidence.

And though “rizz” started out as a slang word used by men about their success in courting women, it’s since come to be used as a genderless descriptor for anyone with noticeably cool, attractive qualities.

The etymology of rizz

Shockingly, “rizz” did not originate on TikTok, though it was popularized there. which, yes, has an entry on “rizz,” credits the YouTuber and Twitch user Kai Cenat with coining the term. Cenat, along with his fellow streamers Silky and Duke Dennis, started using the term to describe each other’s “game,” or their ability to successfully woo women, even judging each other’s rizz in digital competitions.

Cenat explained rizz on the “No Jumper” podcast as a swagger so undeniable that, once engaged, it can totally change one’s romantic prospects. He painted a picture: A man is talking to a woman and not impressing her — until he puts the rizz on her. “You’re down bad tremendous,” he said, making use of the related slang term “down bad.” “Until … you spit game to where you’re, like, rizzin’. You’re rizzin’ em up.”

To Cenat, “rizz” describes someone’s verbal swagger employed while flirting, and he’d even host live “Rizz Academy” classes on Twitch to spread his rizz-dom with followers. But when “rizz” made its way to TikTok, its definition expanded beyond flirting skills to describe someone’s general magnetism.

TikTok comes up with ‘unspoken rizz’

Once Cenat’s videos on rizz, which have received millions of views on YouTube, reached users on TikTok, the app’s users took it and ran with it. “Rizz” use reached new heights on TikTok in 2022, with TikTokers determining the rizz of fictional characters and putting a new spin on the word with “unnspoken rizz,” when someone’s charisma is so palpable that they don’t even have to speak.

Rizz: noun or verb?

“Rizz” is something you can have and do, though it’s most commonly used as a noun, per One can “rizz” a romantic partner at a bar and then use their rizz to hold that person’s attention beyond their initial meeting.

Determining rizz — who’s got it?

Rizz is usually in the eye of the beholder, but there are some universally acknowledged rizz professionals both real and imagined.

A common example is Donkey from “Shrek,” whose rizz is so undeniable that he successfully wooed a massive dragon. The rizz is so palpable within actor, rapper and director Riz Ahmed that it’s already in his name. Hobie Brown, or “Spider-Punk” from “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” has immense rizz, what with his heavy Cockney accent, inherent coolness and anarchist belief system. The tremendously talented, ever-fashionable Zendaya has rizz, and her partner Tom Holland apparently has enough rizz to impress her, though it’s harder for laypeople to notice.

As for developing one’s own rizz, it’s simpler than it seems in Cenat’s “Rizz Academy” clips. Based on the expanded definition, having rizz means owning it — embracing the assets and peculiarities that make you, you, and letting the world catch on.

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