The ultimate Love Island 2021 glossary: All the terms you need to know to understand the dating show

The ultimate Love Island 2021 glossary: All the terms you need to know to understand the dating show

If Love Island had aired last year during the height of the pandemic, there would have been fewer cases of coronavirus. Those who broke rules to socialise would not have felt compelled to do so as, instead, they would have stayed in surgically attached to their televisions.

More than that, if Love Island had aired last year the national mood would not have reached the miserable depths it did, as people would have found solace and unity in the antidote to division that is watching the antics from the villa. There would be no culture war. There would be no pain. Only sun, sand, and smiles while watching the next batch of social media influencers complete their finishing school.

All this is to say that, the fact there was no series of Love Island last year, was socially irresponsible. That is a hill I will die on forever more.

Thank goodness, then, that after 18 months in which we have been bereft of entertainment, the nation can unite once more and watch as people ‘do bits’ ‘crack on’ and inform disinterested women on sun loungers that they are their ‘type on paper’.

But if you are a newbie to the island, some of the above may make little to no sense. This is because some people speak the language of love and others speak the language of Love Island and if you want to watch the show, you need to get clued up on the latter as a matter of urgency. So, gather round the fire pit and allow us to help you out.

To do bits

Love Island is show about dating and to be successful on the island, islanders must date. But that doesn’t mean the contestants are crude. Indeed, when they engage in any sexual activity they refer to it with all the candour of a politician resigning due to an affair...

To do bits, basically, means to hook up. In 2018, former islander Wes Nelson famously made a Do Bits Society (DBS) with other male contestants in which they reminisced about their night-time escapades over orange juice in the morning.

Over the years, its definition has expanded and now “doing bits” also means a couple is doing well.

“It is what it is”

“It is what it is” is basically English for c’est la vie. On countless occasions, islanders are brutally rejected or ditched for new arrivals with one more ab, with neither tact or diplomacy. Those spurned could cry, they could get angry, they could pine. They don’t, and with a rueful smile they simply shrug and say: “It is what it is”.

“It is what it is” is the siren call of stoicism. It is a symbol of consent. It is, as they say, what it is.

Laying it on thick. See also: Factor 50

Those who go on Love Island rarely approach flirting with subtlety. There is no time to waste exchanging glances or liking each other’s Instagrams until someone cracks. There is no long game in Love Island, no ‘talking stage’. After all, it is a competition with winners and losers. And so, the islanders “lay it on thick” meaning they show their hand completely to the party of their interest and flirt in a smothering way in the hope that they fancy them back.

In Love Island, this usually involves a man taking a woman to one side and listing all the physical characteristics he finds appealing about her. “Obviously you are a beautiful girl, you’ve got great teeth, your hair is nice and your body isn’t too bad either,” someone might say to a person they’ve met 20 minutes ago over a glass of warm prosecco served in a plastic cup.

Hannibal Lecter vibes, yes. Effective? Unfortunately so.

If they really want to amp things up, factor 50 thick denotes turning up the dial. If someone is laying it on factor 50, they might go in for a kiss. Lucky islanders.

To crack on/ To graft/ To stick it on

More romantic terms, meaning “to flirt”.

To shoot your shot

Similar, but with a chance that it might backfire. Most islanders are pretty confident that when they “crack on”, their advances will be reciprocated. But, if you shoot your shot, there is an awareness that it might be a bit of a shot in the dark.

To be mugged off

To be insulted. Behaviour can also be “muggy”.

My type on paper

“You are my type on paper” is meant to be a compliment in the Love Island world. For some reason, telling someone that they are desirable purely theoretically has taken hold and the phrase is batted back and forth throughout the series as an emotional currency. Why? Why!

To pie off

To reject unceremoniously.


Your personality or sex appeal. “Trust in your sauce”, the islanders say to their friends to amp them up before they shoot their shot with someone.

My head’s been turned/ Where’s your head at?

Islanders are constantly trying to locate the whereabouts of their heads. Not an episode goes by in which someone asks someone where their head is, or someone else is shocked to discover that their head has been turned.

What does this mean? Well, when someone says their head has been turned it means that they are no longer interested in the person they have been dating as they have been usurped by someone else.

And asking someone where their head doesn’t happen in the changing room when someone is stuck in their tight Boohoo Man polo, but it is said to enquire after someone's’ emotional state.

Psychologists across the land, take note.

A chat

You might reasonably think a chat means a conversation. Wrong. If someone wants A Chat you can almost hear the film crew run to the scene. No one wants a chat about the weather or to discuss something mundane. When someone says “Can I pull you for a chat?” you know drama is around the corner.

A sort/ a bit of me

The object of one’s affections. Someone attractive. Someone who might be your type on paper who you would wish to pull for A Chat.

Love Island returns to our screens tonight at 9pm on ITV2. We can’t wait to crack on.

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