When learning a foreign language, it is normal to begin with formal structures.
However, once you have mastered these, it is good to brush up on the casual terms and phrases that many native speakers use in conversation.
English slang is a term for this type of language. Many non-natives find it challenging to watch English movies and television shows because slang words and phrases are so common in them.
If you are one of those who are trying to learn the most common slang words in English and their meanings, this post is for you. Please continue reading.
- What is ‘Slang’?
- Where Do Slang Words Come From?
- Why Do People Use Slang Words?
- What Effect Does Slang Have on Society?
- Difference Between British and American Slang Words/Phrases
- Is it Appropriate to Use Slang Words in Academic Writing?
- Summary Table of the Most Common Slang Words and Phrases in English
- Why Do We Have to Learn Slang Words and Phrases?
What is ‘Slang’?
Slang refers to words in a person’s vocabulary that are not frequently found in dictionaries.
Many of these buzzwords have multiple definitions, but you must pay great attention to the context to effectively use them. This makes it a better idea to improve and practice.
English slang terminology with coworkers before using them with strangers. Knowing slang words and phrases has several advantages, including being able to use them in everyday situations and being able to connect with others on a more personal, intimate level since they provide an element of informality to our interactions.
Slang terms are an important part of the English language. Slang is full of odd sayings and colloquialisms that are useful in a wide range of casual circumstances.
Whether you are an experienced English speaker or a newbie, you may wish to brush up on your command of the most popular slang expressions used in everyday life!
You will not be able to learn the most common slang words and phrases in English with simply a manual. Picking up on social cues while listening to native speakers is the key to making these slang terms and phrases sound regular.
Listen to how these terms are utilized in music, cinema, and television to understand better. Do not be scared to copy what they are saying. Make these common slang phrases a part of your everyday speech.
Where Do Slang Words Come From?
Over time, language evolves and changes. New terms and new connotations for old words arise regularly. This occurs as people seek fresh and inventive methods to express themselves. People might use slang to be amusing, intelligent, unique, startling, friendly, or even covert.
The most common slang terms in English have emerged from three distinct sources during the last two decades. Popular music, politics, and the Internet are three examples.
Many slang phrases have emerged due to popular music, particularly rap and hip hop. Lyricists help by coming up with new and innovative ways to express oneself.
Politics has also spawned a slew of English’s most common slang words and phrases. This is partly because people appear to be divided on major subjects.
Words like ‘snowflake,’ ‘woke,’ and ‘triggered’ have taken on new meanings, for better or worse. This is frequently due to the constant fighting that occurs prior to, during, and after election cycles.
The Internet, on the other hand, the Internet is perhaps the most important generator of the most common slang words and phrases in English. That truth should come as no surprise in today’s technology world.
This can arise due to the changing nature of technology (‘selfie’, anyone?). Occasionally, it is a passing fad (‘Y.O.L.O.’ — “You only live once!”). More new slang words are created on the Internet than anywhere else.
The Internet, however, is not merely a source of new slang terms. It also makes it easier for those words to get into our heads and affect our language faster.
In several weeks, if not days, the Internet and social media can help a new slang word emerge and spread worldwide.
Why Do People Use Slang Words?
Slang is rarely used to exchange information. More frequently than not, slang is used for social purposes: to identify group members, shift the tone of the conversation toward informality, and challenge established authority.
Sharing and sustaining a continually evolving slang vocabulary promotes group cohesion and allows members to be included and excluded.
Slang is the equivalent language of fashion, and it has a similar function.
Effective slang, like fashionable apparel and forms of popular entertainment, must be novel, engaging, and able to win approval in a group swiftly. Using archaic vocabulary is the most detrimental thing you can do to your group’s status.
A familiar lexicon unknown outside the group is often found to be a beneficial approach for counterculture or anti-establishment groups to keep information secret or enigmatic.
Slang is often developed by persons in society who have little real political power (such as adolescents, college students, and military enlisted soldiers) or who have the motivation to disguise what they know or do from those in positions of authority.
What Effect Does Slang Have on Society?
Without question, slang is crucial because it allows you to communicate with individuals around you while emphasizing your communication.
We use slang to establish our identities as members of groups, which is one of the main reasons.
We regard someone who uses the same type of slang as us as a member of our in-group, whereas others who do not grasp the slang phrases are considered out-group members.
Slang has always had and will continue to have a beneficial and detrimental impact on society.
New slang emerges as society evolves and changes, while old slang fades away. However, this will make it more difficult for individuals to distinguish between when to use slang and when not to use them.
Millennials have moved away from texting language and now use memes and emojis to communicate with others.
Furthermore, teenagers are the ones who generate the majority of slang. This also acts as a means of further separating them from their parent’s generation, making slang words and phrases all the more interesting.
Difference Between British and American Slang Words/Phrases
Right today, there are 1.5 billion English speakers on the planet. It is not surprising that the English language has 160 different regional variations.
Each has its own set of spellings, pronunciations, and slang.
The following section focuses on the difference between the most common slang words and phrases in British English and American English.
Using American Slang Words and Phrases
As you read through this list, remember that American slang varies depending on where you are in the country. Certain slang words, for example, are more widely used in rural areas than in urban areas.
Remember that slang words are intended for casual conversation and should not be used in a formal setting.
Also, do not expect these English slang terms to be accepted in England. While there are a few expressions that are shared by both countries, each has its own set of English slang.
Everyday Slang Words
|Slang Words |
|I feel you.||I sympathize with you.||“I feel you; I have been in that predicament before.”|
|I get it.||I understand.||“I get it. I know you have other things to do.”|
|My bad.||My mistake.||“My bad for ordering the wrong pizza. Please wait; I’ll have to buy you the right flavor.”|
|No big deal.||No problem.||“Don’t worry about it. It’s no big deal.”|
|No biggie.||No problem.||“I apologize for the mess. I’ll clean it up.” “No biggie.”|
|No worries.||That’s alright.||“I’m sorry about the miscommunication.” “No worries.”|
|Oh my God!||Used to describe the shock, surprise, or excitement||“Oh my God! Is this a new iPhone?”|
|Same here.||I agree.||“I can’t attend the meeting tonight. I have other things to do.” “Same here.”|
|What’s up?||How are you?||“Hi Jim! We haven’t seen each other in a long time. What’s up?”|
|You bet!||Certainly. |
You are welcome.
|“Thank you for the sweater.” “You bet.”|
|Slang Words |
|beat||Exhausted||“He was so beat after driving for eight hours.”|
|bomb||Really good||“The food last night was so bomb!”|
|bummer||A disappointment||“It’s such a bummer you could not go with us yesterday.”|
|cheesy||Silly||“That was such a cheesy excuse. Who would believe that?|
|chill||Relax||“You’ve got to chill. They’re going to be fine.”|
|cool||Fantastic||“It’s not going to rain today.” “Cool.”|
|corny||Lame||“Your joke is corny. No one laughed.”|
|epic||Awesome||“The trip was so epic! I’m going there again!”|
|flakey||Indecisive||“Let’s not trust her; she tends to be flakey.”|
|hot||Attractive||“That actor is hot.”|
|It sucked.||Used to refer to someone or something that is not good or of poor quality||“The movie sucked. Don’t watch it.”|
|laid-back||Calm or relaxed||“He’s a laid-back person. Everyone loves him.”|
|lame||Opposite of fantastic||“The play was so lame. I wasted my time watching it.”|
|ripped||Physically fit||“There’s no way I would win against him; he’s so ripped!”|
|shady||Suspicious or questionable||“I wouldn’t trust her; she’s shady.”|
|sick||Awesome||“These sunglasses are sick!”|
|sweet||Fantastic||“The professor has agreed to postpone the exam.”|
Slang for People & Relationships
|Slang Words |
|babe||A term of endearment||“Hey babe!”|
|chick||A young woman or a girl||“That chick is funny!”|
|dump||To put a stop to a romantic relationship||“She dumped him over a silly matter.”|
|ex||A former partner or spouse||“I am friends with my ex.”|
|getting hitched||About to get married||“I can’t believe you’re finally getting hitched.”|
|party animal||Someone who loves to party||“He was a party animal before he got married.”|
|turn-off||Something that makes one feel repulsed||“He’s such a show-off; it’s a turn-off.”|
|tying the knot||About to get married||“One of my closest friends is tying the knot in October.”|
|whiz||An extremely smart or intelligent person||“She is a whiz! She was able to solve the puzzle in seconds.”|
|Slang Words |
|A blast||A very exciting and fun event||“I had a blast at the concert! The band was amazing!”|
|booze||Alcoholic drinks||“Booze isn’t allowed at the party.”|
|flick||A movie||“I don’t like horror flicks.”|
|grub||Food||“Do you want to order some grub later?”|
|hang out||To spend time with other people||“Let’s hang out sometime next week!”|
|I’m down.||I will join.||“He’s down for basketball.”|
|I’m in.||I will join.||“I’m in for pizza and drinks.”|
|show up||To appear at an event or gathering||“I’m not sure if he will show up. He’s not answering my calls.”|
|wasted||Intoxicated||“I was so wasted last night I don’t know what time the guests left.”|
Slang for Actions
|Slang Words |
|ace||To be good at something||“He aced his piano lessons.”|
|bail||To not join||“I would have to bail from bowling tonight; I have an urgent matter to attend to.”|
|busted||To be seen or caught while doing something improper||“You’re busted! I am going to tell mom and dad.”|
|cram||To devote a lot of time preparing and studying before a test||“She always crams every time there is an exam.”|
|crash||To sleep||“He was so tired; he’s going to crash soon.”|
|ditch||To leave something or someone, a location, or an item behind||“She ditched her friends to watch a movie with him.”|
|goof||To make a mistake||“The newly-hired employee goofed and messed up the company’s finances.”|
|lighten up||To relax||“You have to lighten up; we’ll be landing soon.”|
|pig out||To eat a lot||“I was pigging out lately; I think I’ve gained four pounds.”|
|score||To obtain what is desired||“I scored a pre-loved purse at a thrift shop for only $5!”|
|screw up||To make a mistake||“He is in big trouble for screwing up the company’s budget.”|
|wrap up||To end something||“Let’s wrap up this meeting and carry on with our work.”|
Modern American Slang Words
|Slang Words |
|freebie||Something that is free||“The shop offers freebies for customers who will purchase more than $20.”|
|lemon||A bad purchase||“That painting is a lemon. You could have bought it at half of its price at other shops.”|
|shades||Sunglasses||“I need new shades.”|
|shotgun||The passenger seat in the front||“Can I sit shotgun?”|
|in no time||Very soon||“The meeting will end in no time.”|
|buck||A dollar||“Do you have three bucks I can borrow?”|
|rip-off||A purchase that was way too expensive||“That belt is a rip-off; it’s a fake.”|
Using British Slang Words and Phrases
Whether you prefer watching The Royal Family or binge-watching series like ‘Doctor Who,’ you have come across some strange and fantastic British English terminology.
Different areas can have their own distinct lingo within the same country or even within the same city.
It is no surprise, then, that slang in the city of London alone, let alone between other English-speaking countries in general, can be so disparate.
Here is a list of some of the most common slang words and phrases in British English.
Everyday Slang Words
|Slang Words |
|blimey||An expression of surprise||‘Blimey that was an amazing performance!”|
|bog roll||A toilet paper||“Please buy some bog rolls when you go grocery shopping.”|
|buggar all||Nothing at all.||“I’ve done buggar all today.”|
|Cheerio!||Goodbye!||“Cheerio! I have to go!”|
|Cheers!||Thank you!||“Cheers to all of you for coming tonight!”|
|crack on||To get going or continue doing something||“It’s getting dark, I better crack on.”|
|gutted||To be disappointed||“I’m so gutted when the Lakers lost.”|
|innit||Short for ‘Isn’t it?’||“It’s raining, innit?”|
|quid||British pounds||“I need some quids to ride the bus.”|
|soz||Short for ‘sorry’||“I forgot it’s your birthday. Soz.”|
|Slang Words |
|barmy||A crazy idea||“Spending a hundred bucks for a meal is barmy!”|
|bloody||Used to mean ‘really’ or ‘extremely’||“That’s a bloody brilliant idea!”|
|cheeky||Rude and disrespectful||“He is known for being cheeky.”|
|chuffed||Happy and delighted||“My parents are chuffed that I am finally graduating.”|
|daft||Silly||“That is such a daft idea. Let’s not do that.”|
|dead||Used to mean ‘really’ or ‘extremely’||“He is dead serious about the plan.”|
|dodgy||Suspicious or questionable||“She is acting a little dodgy.”|
|knackered||Tired||“My dad is absolutely knackered after building the treehouse.”|
|minging||Something disgusting or gross||“The way you’re saying it, it looks like it’s such a minging scene to witness.”|
|mug||Gullible||“She is a mug; I’m pretty sure you can convince her.”|
Slang for People & Relationships
|Slang Words |
|bev||A handsome man||“He is a bev.”|
|bloke||A man||“He’s a good and decent bloke.”|
|bruv||Friend or brother||“He’s my bruv back when I was at university.”|
|grafting||Flirting||“They are totally grafting at each other.”|
|lad||A young man||“That lad moved in just a few weeks ago.”|
|sod off||To go away||“Will you please sod off? I’m studying.”|
|Slang Words |
|banter||To make jokes — generally about someone else, but all in good humor||“People who like to banter are well-liked.”|
|bevvy||Short for beverages||“Would you serve us some bevvy, please?”|
|buzzin’||Tipsy or a little drunk||“I’m buzzin’ after only two bottles of beer.”|
|cuppa||A cup of tea||“My manager invited me for a cuppa.”|
|kerfuffle||A disagreement with someone||“He was sent to the dean’s office because he had a kerfuffle with one of the professors.”|
|nosh||Food||“Those are really good nosh!”|
|posh||Fancy||“They ate at a posh restaurant.”|
Slang for Actions
|Slang Words |
|gander||To look around||“They try to gander and see if they like the place.”|
|gobsmacked||To be completely taken aback or astonished beyond belief||“The audience was gobsmacked when he started singing.”|
|lost the plot||To become furious||“My mom lost the plot when she saw my younger sister’s mess.”|
|nick||To steal||“He nicked those sweets for his younger sister.”|
|take the piss||To be sarcastic||“Relax, and don’t get upset; I was just taking the piss.”|
|tell porkies||To tell lies||“Do not dare tell porkies about what happened while I was not here.”|
|throw a wobbly||To throw a tantrum, usually by adults or someone older||“He’s too old to throw a wobbly like that.”|
Modern British Slang Words
|Slang Words |
|fag||A cigarette||“Do you have some fags?”|
|fiver||A five-pound note||“Do you have a fiver? I need to buy some sandwiches.”|
|gaff||Home||“I’m heading gaff; I’m tired.”|
|jiffy||A short period||“I’ll finish my homework in a jiffy.”|
|kip||A power nap||“Let me take a kip real quick.”|
|pissed||Drunk||“He’s totally pissed last night.”|
|skint||Having no money||“She is now skint after investing in such a horrible business idea.”|
|tenner||A ten-pound note||“Can you lend me a tenner?”|
Is it Appropriate to Use Slang Words in Academic Writing?
A good writer’s goal should be to explain ideas clearly; each paragraph should be easily understandable.
This implies that you must disregard the specific grammatical form, language, and, in general, the relationship between thoughts and expression forms.
Believe it or not, the respective stated thoughts may lose courage and strength due to inadequate language expression.
Therefore, if your writing is full of slang, it may contain specific ideas that are contradictory to others, and therefore, the outcome will be poor. It is essential always to be cautious.
Slang should never be used and should be avoided at all costs.
It is common to see academic writings with daily language or slang in today’s world. It is important to remember that technical language is formal and follows certain norms.
What you say in a conversation or in colloquial language may sound excellent, but it may sometimes be improper when written.
When you write, you should be mindful that your work will be read by others other than your teacher.
They could be from various countries, educational backgrounds, and so on.
Hence, you should be cautious in incorporating slang words and phrases so that everyone will understand your message.
Summary Table of the Most Common Slang Words and Phrases in English
Aside from the slang words and phrases mentioned earlier, there are still some that are worth learning and studying.
Here are some of them.
|Slang Words and Phrases||Meaning||Example Sentences|
|axed||To get fired from a job||“My aunt was axed, and she’s now looking for a new job.”|
|balling||To have a luxurious lifestyle||“Their family is now balling after winning the lottery.”|
|beef||Conflict with someone||“They’ve had beef for over a decade.”|
|bling||A flashy piece of jewelry||“It’s obvious he’s showing off his bling.”|
|brick||Cold||“Put on some layers; it’s brick outside.”|
|cabbie||A cab/taxi driver||“The cabby was friendly and funny.”|
|cahoots||Working together secretly||“My friends were in cahoots with my parents when they planned for my birthday.”|
|cold fish||An unfriendly person||“I wouldn’t approach her; she’s a cold fish.”|
|cranky||Irritable||“He’s cranky because he’s getting old.”|
|cringe||Frequently accompanied by a face or body expression expressing disgust or discomfort.||“He cringed when he saw them eat those foods.”|
|crusty||Dirty; unclean||“The kitchen is crusty; you have to clean it.”|
|deck||To knock someone down to the ground||“The police decked the man and handcuffed him.”|
|dicey||Risky; unsafe||“Do not walk by yourself at night; it’s dicey.”|
|diss||To exhibit disdain by saying or doing something demeaning||“The two neighbors dissed each other.”|
|dork||Socially awkward||“I used to be a dork when I was in high school.”|
|dunno||I don’t know.||Do you know what time the guests will arrive?” “Dunno.”|
|elbow grease||Hard work||“The team could secure the championship because of a little elbow grease.”|
|extra||Unnecessarily dramatic, extravagant, and exaggerated||“She wore and changed into three gowns during the party. She was so extra.”|
|fib||A small innocent lie||“She told a fib to get out of trouble.”|
|flex||To show off||“If you visit his social media accounts, you can see him flexing his travels.”|
|flip-flop||To make an abrupt change in one’s mind or policies||“The committee seemed to be flip-flopping over who’s to blame.”|
|fluke||A favorable outcome is due to luck rather than talent||“It was a fluke that he won the contest; many participants couldn’t make it to the venue on time.”|
|for real||Used to speak truthfully and honestly||“He’s really coming tonight, for real!”|
|fronting||Pretending to be good at something to impress someone||“She is fronting her Spanish to impress the judges.”|
|G.O.A.T.||Short for Greatest of All Time||“Michael Jordan is the G.O.A.T.”|
|garbage||Something that is of poor quality||“This project is garbage!”|
|ghost||To stop communicating with someone||“Jim ghosted Jane after a few months of dating.”|
|go nuts/bananas||To go crazy||“The crowd went nuts/bananas when the players started dancing.”|
|guts||Courage||“Mindy didn’t have the guts to tell her relatives about what happened.”|
|hella||Used as an adjective to indicate something that is exceptionally good||“She’s hella kind and friendly.”|
|hooked||Addicted||“I’m currently hooked on perfumes.”|
|hype||Excessive praise for a product or person||“Products are often overhyped.”|
|in||fashionable; trendy||“Loop earrings are in back in the day.”|
|just kidding||I’m just joking.||“Don’t take it seriously. He must just be kidding!”|
|lit||Fantastic||“The game was totally lit! I’m sorry you didn’t watch it live!”|
|loser||A disliked person||“He is such a loser.”|
|mood||When one wants to say anything that is relatable||“Mark walking out of the event is such a mood.”|
|nope||No!||Have you seen Sue today?” “Nope!”|
|on fleek||Perfectly done||“The food at the party was on fleek!”|
|real talk||When one wants to talk about anything serious||“We need to have a real talk. Come home early.”|
|roast||Refers to instances in which someone is offended or insulted.||“He got roasted by his colleagues.”|
|salty||When a person becomes agitated or enraged over a minor issue||“He left the event early after not getting the promotion. He is so salty.”|
|shook||Shocked||“Oh my God, I’m shook! I need to watch the movie adaptation!”|
|slay||A manner of expressing deep gratitude for someone who excels at something or completes a task||“She slays every performance!”|
|stoked||Excited||“Everyone’s stoked for the new shop to open.”|
|tea||A hot news||“Here’s the tea: the couple has money problems and is filing for bankruptcy.”|
|throw shade||To negatively judge or say something terrible against another person||“She is throwing shade at her ex-husband.”|
|wack||Disappointing; not able to meet expectations||“The movie is a complete wack.”|
|what on earth||When you see something that you cannot identify||“What on earth is this?!”|
|yep||Yes!||“Are you going to Mike’s party tonight?” “Yep!”|
Why Do We Have to Learn Slang Words and Phrases?
Slang words and phrases are an essential component of any language. Though they can sometimes be vulgar, they make a language more interesting and colorful.
Many people can understand them, not only inside a specific community, especially these days where the Internet can make something viral overnight.
Slang words and phrases draw us closer together while also enriching the language.
We hope that this post has enriched your vocabulary about the most common slang words and phrases and when to use them more effectively. Cheers!
Additional Reading — ENGLISH GRAMMAR
- What is British English?
- What is American English?
- What is Canadian English?
- What is Australian English?
- 30+ Tips to Speak English Without Grammar Mistakes
- What Are Idioms?
- What Are Verbs?
- What Are Nouns?
- What Are Adjectives?
- What Are Pronouns?
- What Are Adverbs?
- What Are Tenses?
- What Are Punctuation Marks?
- What Are Prepositions?
- What Are Loanwords?
- What are Phrasal Verbs?
- What Are Collocations?
- What Are Conjunctions?
- What are Modals?
- What is Subject-Verb Agreement?
- What Are Sentence Structures?
- What Are Sentence Parts?
- What are Sentence Functions?
- What Are Clauses?
- What are the Commonly Misspelled Words in English?