How The Micro-Generation Xennials Got Its Name

Generations are typically defined by the zeitgeist of their products' coming-of-age, or sometimes young adult years. The baby boomers — at least those who grew up in the 1960s — have the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the British Invasion, and the flower power movement. Generation X has Nirvana, O.J. Simpson fleeing from the cops in his white Bronco, and MTV back when the "M" stood for music. Millennials have Total Request Live, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the global financial crisis of the late 2000s. Generation Z has YouTubers as celebrities, SoundCloud rap, and Olivia Rodrigo. But what about the Xennials?

Merriam-Webster noted that the term "Xennial(s)" was first coined in a December 2014 think piece from Good Magazine, and in this article, we can see that this micro-generation doesn't have much to speak of by way of cultural touchstones. The StarTribune argues that the Simpson trial qualifies as a touchstone for Xennials, but if you come to think of it, playing "The Oregon Trail" on your PC or relating to the teenage record store employees in "Empire Records" isn't as noteworthy as being affected by the Great Recession or heck, even identifying with the lyrics of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" ... or Rodrigo's "drivers license." But those are the breaks if you're someone who was born within a specific six-year timeframe starting toward the end of one broader generation and ending around the beginning of another.

A little bit Gen X, a little bit Millennial

Simply put, the word "Xennial" is a portmanteau of the nicknames given to two generations — Generation X and millennials. And likewise, those who are considered Xennials can also be classified as younger members of Gen X or older millennials, depending on their year of birth. Per USA Today, Xennials were born between 1977 and 1983, placing them right in between Gen X (1965-1980) and millennials (1981-1996) as a micro-generation whose experiences and general mindsets are a combination of those the latter two generations experienced.

This means that when you were a kid, you probably learned a lot about post-World War II history and pop culture through Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" or "Quantum Leap," the sci-fi television series that starred a pre-"NCIS: New Orleans" Scott Bakula. You're old enough to have appreciated hair metal in the late '80s but young enough to have been part of the target audience of the nu-metal bands that dominated rock in the late '90s. You're most likely more tech-savvy than your boomer parents, but at least you aren't practically married to your gadgets, as the stereotypes suggest. And in terms of your mindset, there's a good chance you can be alternately as jaded as the average Gen X product or as "bubbly" and "naive" as millennials are often perceived to be, according to BuzzFeed.

For some, being part of the Xennial micro-generation can represent a happy medium, but for others, it could leave you wishing you had more meaningful cultural touchstones than those born before 1977 and after 1983. Either way, Xennials represent a blend of Gen X and millennials, and the name says it all.