"What's up?" "I'm just chillin', you?"
Even if you speak and understand English perfectly, there are some words or phrases that are used informally in daily speech that you may not recognize. These words could also be specific to a particular area/region of the country that you can only grasp by immersing yourself in the local culture. We've compiled some of the common slang you might hear in the U.S. and what they mean. Know of any that we missed? Comment below!
-"What's up?" is an extremely common and also informal greeting meaning "What's happening with you?" or "How are you?" It can be a little confusing to hear because it doesn't always require a response.
-"24/7" refers to the 24 hours in a day of the seven days per week. It's used as an adjective to describe something that is constant/all the time. An example: "Many stores and restaurants in New York City are open 24/7."
-"Cool" or "awesome" is a common and casual way of describing something well-liked, or trendy. For example, "We saw a really cool movie last night. The special effects were awesome."
-"Y'all" is a contraction of the words "you" and "all" used to address a group of people. It is most commonly used in the southern U.S. states. It's a very informal way to talk to more than one person. "Are y'all coming over later?"
-"Beat" In addition to referring to tempo or rhythm in music, this word is also commonly used as an adjective that means tired or fatigued. Example: "I don't think I can come over for dinner tonight. I had a long day at work today and I'm pretty beat."
-"YOLO" is an abbreviation for "you only live once" and was popularized by musical artist, Drake. YOLO has come to be a catchphrase for young people recently and meant to encourage them to live life to the fullest. "I might go to a party even though it's on a school night." "You should go. Yolo."
-"Hang out" or "chill" is used casually to mean relax or spend time together. It's usually used among friends since it's relatively informal. For example, a conversation to make plans could look like this, "Do you guys want to hang out this weekend?" "Sure, let's chill at my place."
-"Blast" refers to the noise an explosion makes but is also used to describe a good time, such as "having a blast." For example, "We had a blast at the concert yesterday" means the concert was a lot of fun.
-"Cheesy" or "corny" usually means uncool. It could also refer to something that is inauthentic. It's also very subjective. Example, "We saw a romantic comedy film last night and it was so cheesy." "The high school students thought the lab safety video was really corny."
Test yourself with this short quiz: http://www.manythings.org/c/r.cgi/slang
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Ani is a fan of exploring new places through photography and the local cuisine. After earning her BFA in photography from NYU and gaining communications experience at International Planned Parenthood Federation, she joined InterExchange in 2012, and worked as the Marketing Producer until 2016.