30 American Slang Terms You Didn’t Know You Needed

Article by Ariel Tortuga

Have you ever been talking to your American friends and they use a term in an odd way? Are you trying to impress your friends with your mastery of English? Hopefully, some of these words will help you to show off to your friends, or to help decode some of the phrases you hear on television programs and movies. For the record… These phrases are meant to be used between friends in a very casual manner, and not in a professional or serious manner.

1. OG – “Original Gangster,” if something is being described as such, it is the first, or something with a long established history.
2. TBH – “To Be Honest” a casual way of telling a friend of difficult news, or if you just need to get their attention about something significant.
3. Same difference – another way of saying that you agree to disagree with someone.
4. Yah feel me – this phrase is used to check for understanding. For example, a friend might say, “I love hot pot, you feel me?”
5. Know what I’m saying – similar to “yah feel me,” but can be used more casually and usually more fun when said in a funny accent without pronouncing all the syllables properly.
6. Gotcha – I have seen this used in some translations and in textbooks, however this is still a casual way of speaking and should be considered slang. It is a shortened version of, “I got you,” which means, “I understand yo u.”
7. No shit, Sherlock – something to reply if someone says something that is extremely obvious. It is a reference to the greatest detective of all time, Sherlock Holmes.
8. Baller – Someone or something that is as cool as the best basketball player you can think of.
9. Cool story, bro – Used when your friend in fact has told a very boring story or something that you may not have any interest in.
10. Dope – Another way of describing something as “cool.”
11. Low key – Used to describe something you do not want people to really know about you. For example, “I am low key a fan of stinky tofu.”
12. Bae – stands for “Before Anyone Else.” Anyone that actually calls their significant other this may be considered a little odd. Only real accepted use of such a term is in an ironic way.
13. Das Gucci – “That’s good.”
14. Picking up what I’m putting down – “Do you understand me?” Used mostly in the form of a question, “Are you picking up what I am putting down?”
15. Whatever floats your boat – “Whatever makes you happy.”
16. Salty – When you are annoyed about something but are trying to act calm about it. As an example, a person may be “salty” when a friend cancels plans with you at the last minute to go hang out with their BAE.
17. Burn – When someone says something that immediately is in sulting based on what the burned person has just said. Here’s a conversation…
Person 1: Hey, can you take out the garbage?
Person 2: Yeah sure, but I am not sure I can
pick you up.
Person 1: I am not garbage!
Person 2: Haha! You just got burned!
18. Fishy – Something that does not seem right. How it is used, “My brother was really nice to me today. I should have known something was fishy, because I found a spider in my shoe when I went to put it on. My brother had put it there earlier that day.”
19. Basic – Anything mainstream is basic. Taking selfies with Starbucks coffee mugs, a tattoo of a Chinese character, and having hot pot for dinner with friends, could all be considered basic.
20. G.O.A.T. – “Greatest of All Time.” Some would say that Lebron James is the GOAT of basketball.
21. Extra – over the top. For example, “My boyfriend bought me a giant stuffed dog when I said I wanted a dog. He’s so extra.”
22. Keep it 100 – To keep everything honest and true. Do not be fake and just be an overall good person.
23. Ratchet – Maybe used to describe someone or something that is obnoxious, rude, or trashy. Could be used in a funny way to describe many instances though, such as, “My friend is so ratchet, she hasn’t done her laundry in a month and has worn the same shirt every day for a week.”
24. Woke – If a person is described as “woke” it references they are knowledgeable about social issues in a way that others aren’t. Such as in a way that everyone else is asleep to the notion and this person is fully awake.
25. Binge watch – Used when you watch all episodes of a TV series in a row.
26. Sucks – May seem like the action you do with a straw in a glass of juice, but it describes something that is bad or makes you sad. You might say that going to school sucks, because it is something that no one likes to do.
27. YOLO – “You Only Live Once,” if someone asks you to do something crazy you might respond, “YOLO, let’s go on a trip to Thailand this weekend! That sounds crazy and fun!”
28. Dank – meaning cool and original. For example, “Kyle showed me this dank meme.”
29. Rabbit food – reference to vegetables made by a person who hates vegetables.
30. Hold up – If you want someone to stop what they’re saying and explain more. Could be used in place of “wait one minute,” or “what do you mean?”
Depending on your age these may even be new terms for a native speaker. No matter what though, go out and try out some of these new terms. Who knows, you may even figure out your own unique way of using these phrases. That is the beauty of slang, they may have an accepted usage of many in popular culture, but each thing could take on a life of its own amongst friends. Happy speaking!

Ariel Tortuga likes swimming with friends in the ocean and eating vegan.