What It Means When Someone Calls You 'Extra'

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As far as my 34-year-old self is concerned, there is only one definition that works for the word "extra." But let's all break out our dictionaries first, okay?

What does extra mean?

The fine folks at Merriam-Webster define the word extra this way: "More than is due, usual, or necessary." Well, that makes sense, and as someone who has perpetually worn a size extra large, I am more than simply well-acquainted with the term.

Before that cantankerous generation known as the millennials savagely grasped onto that word (and admittedly, I am one of them, but only just barely), its meaning was fairly neutral and could often be seen as a good thing.

Extra-large means more to love. An extra cookie means yet another delicious cookie for you to unexpectedly enjoy. Having extra room means that, yes, you can actually get on the same train car as that hot guy you've been eyeing from across the Metro platform.

However, my previous understanding of that word and its connotations went flying out of the window when I first stumbled across it being used as slang online.

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What does being extra mean?

All across social media, the cool kids use extra — or "so extra" or even "super extra" — to refer to someone who is, in short, acting like a major drama queen. The term describes a person with excessive dramatic behavior that is over the top.

When you hear or read someone saying something along the lines of, "He's being a little bit extra today," they mean that this person is being overly emotional, somewhat difficult, dramatic, and/or a prime candidate for casting on the next "Real Housewives" franchise Bravo pulls out of its creatively oh-so-extra flared sleeves.

"Extra" can also be used to denote someone who is trying way too hard to fit in or seem cool. You know, a poser.

Where did being extra originate?

The first definition of extra arrived in Urban Dictionary in September of 2003, and is as follows: "Extra: Over the top, excessive, dramatic behavior, way too much. 'Robert's behavior was extra when he refused to accept Anna's apology.'"

While the viral popularity of extra seems to have really picked up around 2015, as with many slang words we suddenly see explode across memes and meme videos on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the like, the true origin of calling someone extra as a way to say they are simply too much first began within African American Vernacular English, also known as AAVE (where many slang terms come from).

As noted by Zeba Blay, Senior Culture Writer at the Huffington Post: "From 'the bomb' to 'holla' to the very short-lived 'YOLO,' Black slang words often go through the cycle of being used by Black people, discovered by white people, and then effectively 'killed' due to overuse and a general lack of understanding of how to use these words."

According to Reader's Digest, however, they claim the word is of Latin descent and can be traced back to Medieval times. There, it meant "to be outside or beyond."

It's super extra important to know where the words we use come from — not only so we don't look like fools, but more so to better appreciate how language can bring us all together.

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How To Use Extra In Texts & Conversation

1. To describe someone who is a little over the top

"Kyle is so extra these days. You can't say anything around him without him going off."

2. To call out someone who is trying too hard

"Stop being so extra, Jessica. You've never even heard of that band."

3. To tease someone friendly

"Look at you being so extra around him. You really like him, huh?"

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Reading a definition of any word is all well and good, but if you want to truly understand the ways all of the precious angel babies on Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok who are using a word as slang, it's best to see some good examples of the term extra and it's corresponding memes in use for yourself.

These hilarious memes are perfect examples of what it means when someone is 'being extra.'

17 Funny 'Being Extra' Memes

1. This dog is the very definition of being extra

"Me when I realize I overreacted and was being a drama queen but it's already too late so I gotta keep my ground. Also me not being extra 100%."

2. When you just cannot help yourself

"Friend: It's real casual, don't be extra."


3. Lips don't lie

"Friend: don't go overboard with your lips. you're already extra AF."

"Me: don't worry I won't."

"Also me:"

4. Who doesn't love being extra in love?

"High school relationships be like: I'll see you next period. I love being extra."

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5. Grandpa thinks he's making things easier for himself, not extra for himself

"My grandpa always gotta be extra AF."

6. If you're really that extra, your friends will make sure you know it

"Friend: You are so extra.

Me: WTF, no I'm not.

Also me:"

7. So extra even your seating is over the top

"This is how extra I am."

8. When you thought wrong

"Someone: Violence is never the answer.

Me: Dog travels more than 100km to bite its owner after being abandoned..."

9. When you're trying to fight that extra urge

"Me: Don't do too much, you don't want to be extra."

"Also me: Do the most."

10. Those who aren't extra wish they were extra

"Before you say I'm 'extra' and too much', ask yourself... are you even 'enough'?"

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11. A scheming extra bestie

"Is your best friend really your best friend if she's not willing to be this extra to make your man jealous?"

12. Why would I stop being extra when it makes me look so fine?

"You need to stop being so extra.

Me: ..."

13. Internet fights are the very embodiment of being extra

"You can't be extraordinary without being extra."

14. When your iPhone calls out those extra peeps in your life

"When the clique is being extra."

15. Go extra or go home

"So I retook my senior photos and brought my ring light with me so my highlight would be poppin'. I love being extra."

16. Hair care can be so very extra

"Me trying to figure out which days to wash my hair, so it can line up with my plans."

17. Just for the record, anything and everything unicorn is always so extra

"When you're trying to be quirky but end up being a little bit extra."

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Rebecca Jane Stokes is an editor, freelance writer, former Senior Staff Writer for YourTango, and the former Senior Editor of Pop Culture at Newsweek. Her bylines have appeared in Fatherly, Gizmodo, Yahoo Life, Jezebel, Apartment Therapy, Bustle, Cosmopolitan, SheKnows, and many others.