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Yesterday I was watching a video on YouTube. Here was the original sentence:

— If you really don't want to go to that party, what is going to happen if you say no?
— Oh, my god! Guilt trip city!
— Oh, yeah? How they gonna do that? How is your dad gonna guilt trip you?

Questions:

  1. What's the meaning of "guilt trip city"?

  2. How do you use "guilt trip"?

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  • It's effectively a one-off coinage based on the pairing of guilt trip and city (it may well have been re-coined many times, but probably not so often remembered and re-used). Note that this way of using metaphoric city is much the same as central (particularly in AmE), where it X city / X central simply means the place where you find lots of X (X = "guilt trips" in this specific case). Jul 5, 2017 at 14:16

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The Cambridge Dictionary is unfortunately behind the times here, which is important when we're discussing an example of informal youth language. Much as I hate citing the crass and shoddily written UrbanDictionary, their entry accurately defines that demographic's usage of "guilt trip":

When someone tries to make you feel guilty for thinking/feeling/doing things a certain way.

This is considered a manipulative, sometimes passive-aggressive conversation tactic.

Meanwhile, @FumbleFingers is right about the construction "X city", which you can also find on UrbanDictionary since it's the same level of language in terms of the generation that uses it and the contexts in which it's used. It means a situation where a lot of X takes place.

The character is very informally lamenting that if s/he says no to the party, s/he will be in "guilt trip city". We now see that s/he means: "People will seriously make me feel guilty for saying no."

The other character's reply then implies that it will be the character's dad who "guilt trips" him/her, that is, makes him/her feel guilty for saying no, and wants to know what he'll use to do that.

Here's an example of how the dad might "guilt trip" the character:

— "Dad... I don't think I want to go to the party."
— "Oh, so you want to break your mother's heart?"


Edit: Based on the other users' intuitions, I expect "guilt trip" did once mean what the Cambridge entry says: the experience of feeling guilty. But in this generation's parlance, it means the act of making someone feel guilty. The last character's use of "guilt trip" as a transitive verb shows that the video aligns with the newer use, which is the one I've encountered in my own 25-and-under peer group.

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Let's start with the "city" part. "X city" as slang, means (more or less) "a large concentration of X" or "The place where all the X go". Examples:

Dude, you have to go to the rager at Dan's tonight! It's going to be party city!

(Note: I don't know if kids today still use "rager" to mean "wild party". I'm old)

I try to go to the gym but the guys working out by the weight racks make it like 'steroid city'.

Meanwhile a "guilt trip" is slang for a conversation or action that makes someone feel especially guilty. Example:

I didn't want to dinner with my parents but my Mom laid this total guilt trip on me, so now I have to.

(Note the idiomatic expression is to lay a guilt trip on someone. I don't know why.)

Mary's having a serious guilt trip because she forgot to feed her cat all day yesterday.

You can use these two expressions separately or together. Although this is the first time I've heard anyone say "guilt trip city", it seems perfectly natural slang.

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    The idiomatic expression of this generation is to "guilt trip" someone, not to "lay a guilt trip" on someone, at least in NAmE (and, in any case, the language of this YouTube video). I'm beginning to suspect that guilt trip "the feeling of being guilty" is the older usage and guilt trip "causing someone to feel guilty" has more recently developed out of that, leading to the disconnect between several users' opinion and the show's usage (which aligns with my own experience). Jul 5, 2017 at 15:14

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