Slang, or playful, very informal speech, can vary widely between different social groups and regions, and it evolves quickly.
The register, or level of formality that we use, is an important part of communication. Practicing speaking English in different social contexts, allows you to express different sides of yourself.
The use of slang often signifies membership in an in-group, and if you aren’t a part of the community, it may be misunderstood, or even cause offense. Be a little cautious of meaning before you use new slang.
Here is a mini-dictionary of ‘safe’ slang words you can use while you ease your way into very casual speech.
I owe you one. = Thank you for the small favour. I will repay you.
Example: Thanks for the beer. I owe you one.
You’re the best. = Thank you.
Example: I really appreciate your help. You’re the best.
You’re a lifesaver. = Thank you! (Emphatic.)
Wow, you really saved my ass. You’re a life saver.
You bet. = 1.) You’re welcome, 2.) I agree.
Example 1 = Thanks! You bet.
2.) I think Tammy will help us. You bet she will! She owes me one.
Any time. = You’re welcome.
Example: Any time. Always happy to help.
No problem./No prob. = You’re welcome.
Don’t mention it. = You’re welcome.
My bad. = I’m sorry.
Example: I’m sorry that I’m five minutes late! My bad. I was stuck in traffic. Sorry!
Shut up! = 1.) Stop talking, 2.) Indicates interest and surprise, similar to ‘you’re kidding me’ or ‘seriously?’
Example 1: Oh my God. You’ve been nagging me for over an hour. Please, just shut up and leave me alone.
Example 2: Oh my God! Really? Shut up! That’s crazy! Tell me more.
Something/someone is killing me. = Something/someone is hurting, annoying or frustrating me.
My knee is killing me.
Please stop lecturing me. You’re killing me.
Would it kill you to take out the garbage once and awhile?
See ya. = Goodbye
Take care! = Goodbye
Example: Have a great time while you’re away. Take care!
to not buy something = to not believe something
Example: I think he’s lying. I don’t buy it.
to be down = 1.) to be sad, 2.) to be willing
Example 1: You look down. Is everything okay?
Example 2: Are you down for the hike tomorrow? I’m so down. I can’t wait.
to chill/to chill out = to relax or calm down
Example: Chill! It’s no big deal.
to get = to understand
I don’t get it. Please explain it again.
I don’t get this movie. The plot makes no sense.
to ghost = to completely cut of communication without warning
Example: I haven’t heard from Steve in ages. I messaged him a few times, but he completely ghosted me.
to hang out = to spend time together
We’re just hanging around the house. Want to come over?
We hung out with some friends last night.
to crash = to go to sleep
Example: I’m exhausted. I need to crash.
to suck = to be very bad or disappointing
Example: It sucks that your team lost.
to rock = to be very good
Example: The pizza at this place rocks.
ass = 1.) buttocks/bum, 2. literal meaning: a donkey
Does my ass look fat in these jeans?
Don’t be such an ass. You’re just being stubborn.
a bum = a homeless, unemployed person, a derelict
Example: There is an old bum who picks up our empty bottles.
a beef = a conflict
Example: Does Tim have a beef with the boss?
dough = money
Example: I don’t have enough dough to buy a car
a big deal = something significant
Example: What’s the big deal? I was only 5 minutes late. Why are you making a big deal out of it?
a bummer/downer = something disappointing
Example: It’s a bummer that it’s raining. The kids were really looking forward to the picnic.
fam = family
Example: I am hanging out with the fam this weekend.
a heads up = a warning
Example: Just a heads up, Peter is still very angry with you.
kicks = shoes
I’m gonna buy some new kicks this afternoon.
a pain in the neck/a pain in the butt/a pain in the ass = someone or something annoying
Our neighbour is a pain in the butt. He is always complaining.
zip = nothing
Example: I played the lottery, but I didn’t win. I got zip.
ADJECTIVES AND ADVERBS
awesome = great
cringe = embarrassing
flush = having a lot of money
broke = not having any money
mad = very
nuts = crazy
pissed = angry
pooped = tired
sick/wicked = very cool (similar to the Colombian ‘chimba’)
stoked = excited
gutted = very sad
dodgy = suspicious