What are slang words? Here you will find thousands of common slang terms, including internet slang, American slang, British slang, Canadian and Australian slang words, with meaning and useful examples.
What is Slang?
Anyone who has ever learned another language knows that you begin with the basics: verb tenses, common phrases, grammatical structure, word syntax. That’s because you have learn all the rules before you can break them.
While that may be true, there’s something to be said for all the “inappropriate” or “incorrect” usages of language. Slang, or informal words often belonging to a specific region or dialect, are highly creative phrases that demonstrate the evolution of language over time. Slang words spotlight the cultural experience of a generation, allowing like-minded people to forge unique ties of communication and understanding. Because slang terms are often understood by select populations in specific areas of the world (especially sub groups within majority cultures), they showcase a sense of belonging, and simultaneously act as a means of maintaining identity.
Slang words have also been coined by people responsible for shaping history – authors, poets, artists, musicians, soldiers and protesters – who continue to impact us today. Art, literature, history, entertainment and advertising are all packed with slang words which add passion, meaning and intensity to our everyday lives.
How to Learn Slang Words
Therefore, while you might focus on learning a new language “properly” (as you should), truly understanding a language means mastering every aspect of it. This includes slang words, idioms and regional dialects. So, how do you learn slang? Slang is typically learned outside of the classroom for a reason. It’s learned through cultural immersion, perhaps by visiting a foreign country and spending time in local bars and restaurants. You can also hear foreign languages in real-world contexts by watching subtitled TV shows and movies.
If you’re a native English speaker, try listening to a favorite sitcom (like Friends or Seinfeld) in French or Spanish while reading English subtitles. Who knows? You might gain a richer appreciation of Joey’s speech mannerisms or Kramer’s ridiculous responses. Another way to learn slang words is to read them online, as the internet is full of slang. And for the truly ambitious, there are plenty of online resources, like classes and books, that you can thoroughly immerse yourself in in order to understand the ins and outs of language.
Types of Slang Words
With 1.5 billion speakers worldwide, English is the most widely spoken language. And in our current Technology Age, English has assumed the dominant language of global communication on the internet. But that doesn’t mean English sounds the same wherever it’s spoken. Some American slang terms and words can seem like an alien language to Brits and Australians – or even to other Americans, depending on your regional dialect.
In addition to internet slang, there are several types of slang words. Below, we’ll take you through just a few of the most popular ones that you’re likely to hear in some of the most widely-spoken languages.
Even if you’re not a native English speaker, use these sayings and you’ll soon be sounding the part!
- Screw up: To mess up or make a mistake.
- My bad: My mistake.
- Kudos: Kudos means “congrats” or “great work”! It can be used in all situations.
- Cheesy: Nope, it doesn’t actually have anything to do with cheese. Something that’s cheesy is cheap or tacky, such as a cheesy pick-up line or a cheesy movie.
- Binge: The dictionary defines “binge” as an “excessive indulgence”. Given the rise of “Netflix and Chill” culture, it’s common for Americans to admit to “binge-watching” a favorite TV show.
- Shoot the sh*t: An alternate expression to making small talk. Asking someone about the weather or their weekend is an example of shooting the sh*t.
- Twenty four seven (24/7): Refers to something that’s non-stop or around the clock – for example, “that grocery store is open 24/7”.
- It’s not rocket science: This saying explains something by hyperbolically stating what it is not. If it’s not rocket science, then it must be easy.
- That hits the spot: Expresses that something (usually food or drink) was exactly what you needed.
- Hold your horses: Wait just a second!
It might not be the Queen’s English, but these phrases are guaranteed to familiarize you with how the Brits talk. Here are examples of British slang words you should learn:
- Chuffed: When someone is chuffed, they are pleased or happy about something.
- Knackered: Deriving originally from “knacker”, which refers to a person who slaughters old worn-out horses, “knackered” expresses exhaustion.
- Fag: This derogatory American expression means something entirely different in the UK. A fag is simply a cigarette.
- Cuppa: The Brits love their tea, so this has naturally made its way into slang. “Cuppa” comes from “cup of” and implies a cup of tea … for a reason.
- Mate: A friend. This word can also be used to address strangers in informal situations.
- Nowt: This is a word which is used to say ‘nothing.’ It might be heard in a sentence such as ‘I really must go shopping, I’ve got nowt at all in the fridge.’
- Bloke: A bloke is simply used to talk about a man. You might hear someone say ‘I like Martin, he is a decent bloke.’
- Tosh: When you say that something is tosh, you mean that this is a bunch of nonsense. The word “baloney” can also be used in the same context.
- Gander: This word is usually used as part of the phrase “take a gander” which means “take a look”. For example, if you’re struggling with your Math homework, you can ask one of your friends to take a gander at the equation and help you with it.
- Gutted: This is a very popular British slang word. When someone’s feeling gutted, they’re very sad, disappointed, and devastated.
Master the following Australian slang words, and you’ll be fair dinkum.
- Arvo, smoko, bottle-o, defo: Australian slang is characterized by its clipped words and phrases, especially those ending with soft vowels like “ie”, “a” or “o”. A smoke break becomes “smoko”, a liquor store is a “bottle-o” and afternoon turns into “arvo”.
- Bonzer: This Australian equivalent of the American “awesome” can be used as an adjective (“bonzer” mates), noun (that game was a real “bonzer”), adverb (the drink went down “bonzer”) and exclamation (“bonzer”!).
- She’ll be right: No worries – everything’s going to be OK!
- Grommet: A young surfer
- Have a roo loose in the top paddock: Just like the American phrase, “a few fries short of a happy meal”, this idiomatic Australian saying describes an intellectually impaired person. Naturally – the more roos loose, the more moronic the person.
- What’s the John Dory?: This phrase is asked when someone wants to know the gossip, or what’s going on.
- Gone walkabout: This phrase derives from indigenous culture, as “walkabout” was a foot journey taken by Aborigines into the bush in order to live according to traditional indigenous practices.
- Stubbie holder: If you go to a game or the beach, you’ll likely bring along your stubbie holder. Another word for a koozie, a stubbie holder is so-named because it holds your stubbie (beer).
- G’day: What list would be complete without the most classic of all Aussie slang? “G’day” combines the word “good” and “day” into one.
- Thongs: It’s not what you’re thinking, OK? Thongs are sandals.
These popular Canadian slang words will help you fit in in the Great White North.
- Skookum: This British Columbian term is used by Canadians to mean exceptional or awesome. Someone who calls you “skookum” isn’t comparing you to a skunk. In fact, the opposite is true – it’s a real compliment!
- Tippy Canoe: Canadians say “tippy canoe” in reference to just about everything that looks to be in danger of falling over. Careful over there; that chair looks like a real tippy canoe.
- Dart: Don’t be confused if someone asks you if you’ve got a dart handy. They’re just asking for a cigarette.
- Chesterfield: Nope, you’re not in a field, and this word has nothing to do with chestnuts. “Chesterfield” is typically used by older generations to mean to a couch or sofa. Hey Jimmy, why don’t you relax on the chesterfield and put your feet up?
- The Dep: “Dep” is an abbreviation of the French “depanneur”, meaning a repairman. In modern day, this word refers to a local corner store – so the linguistic thinking here is that a 7-11 can fix just about anything that might be wrong with you.
- Loonie: This is a word used to describe a $1 coin.
- Toque: Another piece of Canadian slang, but you will not hear a little Canada, symptoms of warm it did winter hats.
- Pop: In Canada, a POP is a carbonated beverage, such as a Coca-Cola or a Sprite.
- Mickey: In Canada, the locals use the word Mickey to describe a 375ml bottle of alcohol.
- Extra: It’s used to describe someone or something obnoxious. So you might overhear someone representing one of their friend’s dresses, “it is a little extra.”
Places like social media forums and online messaging might seem like a foreign world. But with these helpful abbreviations, they won’t feel quite so scary. Here are some example of internet slang words:
- LOL – Laughing out loud
- BRB – Be right back
- BTW – By the way
- LMK – Let me know
- G2G – Got to go
- FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out
- FTFY – Fixed That For You
- FTL – For The Loss
- FTW – For The Win
- FWB – Friends With Benefits
- FWIW – For What It’s Worth
- FYE – For Your Entertainment
- FYEO – For Your Eyes Only
- FYI – For Your Information
- GA – Go Ahead
Slang Words Infographics