300+ colorful, odd and unique American slang words and phrases




Berlitz China

Have you been watching YouTube in your free time to learn English and improve your English comprehension? Understand most of the vocabulary and grammar? But what about all of those slang terms coming from American TV shows, movies, songs and podcasts?

If you’re a little puzzled, you’re not alone. With 50 states in America, each with its own demographics, personality and culture, casual speech in American dialect is an intriguing linguistic study in itself.

From New York, to California, Louisiana to Hawaii (and so much more!), read on for an exploration of fascinating, common, odd, rare and unique American slang.

Why you need to know American slang

Travel the 50 states in America and learn American slang.

In the United States, people from all walks of life use slang. Grandparents might use it to better communicate with their grandchildren. Different groups of people might feel comfortable using slang within their social circles, or even use it to deliberately confuse outsiders for fun. Influencers may try to connect with audiences by sending Tweets, or making Instagram reels.

Indeed, new phrases and words continue to get added to the American lexicon – that is, the vocabulary – due to poignant events over the course of the country’s history, and changing demographics. It can be difficult even for people from the United States to keep up, especially for those who wisely avoid using social media.

However, knowing a few American colloquialisms will help you:

  • Better understand American culture
  • Communicate more freely, expressively and openly - especially in the United States
  • Prevent language misunderstandings
  • Increase your fluency and ability to comprehend and speak American English conversationally

General American slang

Developed over time and greatly influenced by immigration patterns, media, and current events, here are some American slang words that will entertain you.

American slang words

HobnobSocialize with people of an artificially higher status
AirheadSilly/foolish person
CringeReally embarrassing
CopiumFake drug to help twitch users deal with loss/failure
SimpPerson who does too much for who he/she likes
CramStudy like crazy
CrashSleep/pass out
Dms’Direct messages
Dead(Such as in a restaurant or bar) no one’s there
SteezEffortless style
A-GameOne’s best
Oops!When someone messes up
DudeA guy
YuppieYoung urban professional, white-collar worker
White-CollarHigh-salary job that doesn’t involve manual labor, such as accountants and lawyers
Blue-CollarJobs focused on manual labor, such as farmers and miners
WokeAware of potential injustices
LitDrunk, or superb
SwoleVery muscular
SaltyJealous (of someone)
SnatchedNice and cool
Yeet!Expression of excitement
Yikes!No way! It can’t be!
FinstaFake/Private Instagram account
Period.End of discussion (for example, what a parent would say to the child)
FlexShow off
Low-keyModest, something you don’t want emphasized
SlayExcel at, win at
ShookEmotionally bothered/shaken
StanObsessive fan
TurntIntoxicated, energized
BaeA best friend/loved one
FleekReally good, stylish
CheugyOut of style
EmoOverly angsty/emotional
E-Girl/E-BoyAn emo girl/boy
SnackSomeone who’s attractive
WigThat’s so cool!
LewkSomeone’s personal style
SickCool, great
BombReally good
BoujeeFancy and extravagant
FinnaI am going to
GhostSuddenly start ignoring
HypebeastSomeone who only wants to be popular
WA win
LA loss
HipPopular, trendy
LemonBad person
BabeAttractive woman, your significant other
ExFormer girlfriend or boyfriend
WhizA smart person
DumpEnd a relationship
Jonesing (For)Really want something
WackBad, not cool
Corny(Things like movies and jokes) silly
Cheesy(Things like movies and jokes) silly
Yas!(Celebratory) yes!

Popular American slang phrases

Every country -- and even multiple places within many countries – have their own versions of slang. In the U.S, not only do we have words and phrases that are popular nationwide, but we also have terms that are local to states or regions. Before we can learn how to talk like we’re from Brooklyn or Chicago, let’s see what works with people from around the country.

Slang phraseEnglish meaning
In the bagA certainty (usually for something that you want, like in sports or a contest)
Once in a blue moonRarely
You betYou’re welcome
I don’t buy thatI don’t believe you
That’s radThat’s cool
Never mindLet’s change the subject
Keep in touch(When leaving someone) Let’s stay in contact
I can’t even!I can’t tolerate that anymore!
No biggieNot a problem
No big dealNot a problem
No sweatNot a problem
Show upGo to, do better than someone
Have a crush (on someone)Like someone, want to ask someone out on a date
Get hitchedGet married
Tie the knotGet married
I’m beatI’m tired
Get under one’s skinAnnoy
A turn offSomething you don’t like about someone/somewhere
Couch potatoSomeone who’s always watching tv
Party animalSomeone who is always partying
Hang outSpend time with people
It suckedIt was bad
I’m gameI can join you/I will do it
I’m downI can join you/I will do it
I’m inI can join you/I will do it
Have a blastHaving a great time
Get firedLose one’s job
Hit the booksStudy
Rip (someone) offOvercharge
Ride shotgunSit in the front passenger seat
The bombExcellent
Suck upWin someone’s approval by being servile
Kiss assWin someone’s approval by being servile
Fresh meatNew target for humiliation
Loose cannonSomeone dangerously uncontrollable
Pass the buckMake someone else responsible
My badMy mistake
Take for grantedAssume
Hit the roadLeave (to go somewhere)
Go dutchEvery person pays for their own food/drinks
Hit the spot(Said after food/drink) Really satisfying
Wrap upFinish doing something
Are you kidding me?Phrase to represent excitement/frustration
Around the clockAll the time, 24 hours a day, 7 seven days a week
Take a rain checkDo at a later time
What’s up?How are you? How’s it going?
You’re telling me!I know!
All-earsHas your undivided attention
All-nighterStaying up all night to do homework/chat with friends
I’m babyI’m innocent/cute
Glow upA makeover (transformed from ugly to less ugly)
Open up pandora’s boxCause/start trouble/problems
In the zonePerforming as well as or better than one can
Tune outStop paying attention
Armchair CEOOffering expertise on
something in which the speaker lacks
Off the hookFreed from blame
Off the chainReally good
Bye, FeliciaSaid when you’re done with a conversation. Meaning “that’s it. I’m done.”
(To) aceExcel at (a test)
(To) nailExcel at (a test, a race)
(To) screw overCheat or exploit someone
Amped upFilled with enthusiasm/energy
On pointRelevant and appropriate, really good
No capNot lying
Straight fireTrendy
Spill the tea/spill the beansShare the gossip/secret
Netflix and chillWatch Netflix and have sex
Big madReally angry
Diamond handsTaking a major financial risk
Fauci ouchieCOVID-19 vaccine
Cancel cultureOnline shaming/embarrassment of someone due to their views

Region-specific American slang

New York slang words and phrases

New York and New York City have a bounty of their own subcultures and language. And New York slang is an enthralling part of that rich cultural tapestry.

Keep an ear out for some of these expressions and phrases from “The Big Apple” in popular music, television and cinema.

New York slangMeaning
GrillAngrily stare at someone
Real talkUsed to get someone’s attention to talk about something serious
Frontin’Pretending to be skilled to impress others
Dead-AssSerious about something
TightStylish, cool
SchmearLots of cream cheese
PiePizza (pie)
StoopSteps in front of a building
DumbReally, very
GothamNickname for New York City (from Batman)
BodegaSmall neighborhood shop
Buggin’Acting crazy
Wylin’/Wildin’Acting crazy
SchlepImpatiently going between places
Regular coffeeCoffee made with cream and sugar
Have beefHave a problem with/want to fight with someone

Californian slang words and phrases

Californian slang is a diverse assortment of more colorful vocabulary, complete with its own personality.

Travel to the Hollywood sign in California and learn Californian slang.

Californian slangMeaning
Are you down?Want to do it/join us?
NoHoNorth Hollywood
SigAlertTraffic alert/warning
Yeah noNo
SoCalSouthern California
NorCalNorthern California
GnarlyGood or bad (depends on the context)
HyphyOverly excited
Outta pocketInappropriate
SlapsReally good (music)
YadadameanDo you know what I mean?
PhubbingIgnoring someone by using their phone
Stealth modeSecret
Three commas clubBillionaires
UnicornA start-up valued at over $1 billion
Zombie modeStaring at one’s phone

Texas slang words and phrases

Texas slangMeaning
Fixin’ toAbout to do
Bless your heartUsed either to show sympathy, or to soften an insult
Might couldMaybe
All hat, no cattleSomeone who is arrogant Without anything to show for it
Corn-fedBig/fat (describing people)
Dag gum it!Darn it!/damn it!
All git-outThe (for example, best/worst) most extreme of something
Pitch a hissy fitThrow a tantrum/act up
Come hell or high water(Do something) at any cost, no matter if you get injured/make enemies
Whole 'nutherEntirely different situation
(Wp/down) Yonder(Over) there, (down) there (describing a location)

Florida slang words and phrases

Travel to Florida and learn American slang.

Florida slangMeaning
AcerePal, friend, buddy
DaleHurry up
Florida bathSwimming in the pool (as opposed to taking a shower)
Florida Happy MealSomething for the adults, like liquor or cigarettes
Florida ManSomeone who shows bizarre or stupid behavior
JitReferring to someone younger than the speaker
Pub subSandwich from Publix supermarket chain
Parked in GoofyWhen you park your car in the further away parking lot

Hawaiian slang words and phrases

Hawaiian slangMeaning
ManapuaPork bun
AlohaHello, goodbye
Da Kine“The kind,” representing a person, place, or something abstract
HapaSomeone whose ancestry is partially Pacific Islander or East Asian
HaoleA non-native Hawaiian, generally a caucasian person
MahaloThank you
Shoots!O.K.!, Understood!

Louisiana slang words and phrases

Louisiana slangMeaning
Pinch the tail and suck the headHow you eat crawfish
Po’boyBaguette sandwich
DressedThe way you want your po’boy made
Laissez les bon temps rouler
(lay-ZEH leh BAWN taw ROO-leh)
“Let the good times roll”, something said before you’re about to celebrate
Throw me somethin’What many Mardi Gras attendees say to people on parade floats, when they want souvenirs like beads or necklaces
Holy Trinity(In Cajun cooking) onions, bell peppers, celery
Cher(My) love, (my) dear
SnoballFinely shaved ice with sugar syrup
How’s ya mama an’ them?How are your mother and your family?
EnvieA desire to eat something
ParishLouisiana equivalent of county
LagniappeLittle gift, little extra something

New Jersey slang words and phrases

New Jersey slangMeaning
Down the shoreTo the beach (Jersey shore)
Disco friesFrench fries covered in cheese and gravy
Fat sandwichA sandwich that includes almost everything on the menu
Hit the MACGo to an ATM to take money out
HoagieSandwich on a baguette
ExitGiving directions based on a highway/turnpike exit
BennySomeone from Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, or New York City, invariably causing trouble in the rest of the state
ShoobieSomeone from South Jersey, invariably causing trouble in the rest of the state
J’eet yet?Did you eat yet?
SPKSalt, pepper, ketchup
Jersey slideQuickly going from the leftmost lane to the exit (which is on the right)
Cabbage nightThe night before Halloween when some kid are very mischievous
PineySomeone who lives in the Pine Barrens, a rustic part of the southern coast of the state
TwentyregularcashIn New Jersey they don’t pump their own gas, so to get $20 of gas, this phrase is said
The BossNew Jersey-born musician Bruce Springsteen
Pork rollA sandwich made with New Jersey’s own Taylor ham
RipperDeep-fried hot dog with a slit down the middle
The CityDepending on which part of New Jersey you’re in, it’s either New York City or Philadelphia

Chicago slang words and phrases

Travel to Chicago and learn American slang.

Chicago slangMeaning
FrunchroomEntertainment space
PopSoft drink, soda
Da“The” (for example, “da bears”)
The lakeLake Michigan, with which Chicago shares a coastline
The beanThe Anish Kapoor sculpture, formally known as Cloud Gate, in Millennium Park
The “l”Elevated train in downtown Chicago
PrairieVacant lot
GrabowskiBlue-collar hard-working type of person
LSDLakeshore Drive (along Lake Michigan)
A coupleA few
YousIndicates that the speaker is talking to everyone (not just one person)
GrachkiGarage key

Other American slang from more regions

SlangPlace where it’s usedEnglish meaning
Water icePhiladelphia, southern New JerseyShaved ice, sugar, and flavored syrup (a summer treat)
You guysVariousYou all
SnowbirdsVariousDescribing people from colder states who live in warmer states during the winter
WawaPennsylvania, southern New JerseyA convenience store chain
Y’allVarious Southern statesYou all
CattywampusVarious Southern statesSomething that is crooked or not right
BailVariousLeave in a hurry
No AccountVarious southern statesSomething broken/worthless
WickedNew EnglandReally, very
Throwing shadeVariousShowing disapproval for someone without necessarily saying it
Shut up!VariousBe quiet!
Down-to-earthVariousSomeone authentic and humble
Salt-of-the-earthVariousSomeone upright and modest

American slang FAQs

American slang abbreviations on mobile phone.

I. What are some American text slang abbreviations?

Text slangMeaning
TbhTo be honest
HmuHit me up
LmkLet me know
SmhShake my head
PsaPublic service announcement
WbuWhat about you?
CD9Can’t talk; parents are here!
OOMFOne of my friends/one of my followers (e.g. on social media)
wthWhat the hell?
LMIRLLet’s meet in real life
GOATGreatest of all time
BAEBefore anyone else
FOMOFear of missing out
CEOChief executive officer
TFWThat feeling when
OMGOh my god
ASAPAs soon as possible
FYIFor your information
LOLLaugh out loud
RSVP“repondez, s’il vous plait”-- please respond
SOSignificant other
j/kJust kidding

II. What is some American slang for money?

  • Greenbacks
  • Scratch
  • Skrilla
  • Dough
  • Coin
  • Greens
  • Dead Presidents
  • Plata
  • Bucks
  • Bread
  • Cheese
  • Wampum
  • Pesos

Group practicing their American English slang at work.

Make it so

From the North to the South, East to West, now that you’ve been exposed to a breadth of slang terms and phrases from around the United States of America, aren’t you amped up to share your newfound knowledge with friends and family?

If you love learning English, you might enjoy the fun and free articles on our English blog, so come on the journey with us!

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