Do You Know What These American Slang Terms Mean?

Do You Know What These American Slang Terms Mean?

The thing about English is it never ceases to surprise you. There are millions of English expressions and American slang terms that have fun meanings. Traverse from one continent to another and watch how language takes its course; how a word’s meaning shifts as you move to different places. That is also why there are phrases that mean one thing in one country and something completely different in another.

Do you often find yourself lost when your American friends use multiple American slang phrases in each sentence? Well, that’s usually the case with other international students like you, too.

Here are some common American slang words and phrases and their real meanings that may help you get a hold of a typical American conversation.

1. A-Game:

This means being your best self, often comparing yourself to a competitor.

See how it’s used in sentences:

“I’m taking part in the volleyball championship this year. I’m going to bring my A-Game.”

“Are you guys ready for a surprise test? Come on, bring your A-Game and kill it!”

2. Blow or Bomb:

Both these slang words mean to be unsuccessful or to fail terribly. 

See how it’s used in sentences:

“Study hard for your exams. Don’t blow it this time.”

“Are you ready for the game? I hope you don’t bomb it.”

3. Couch Potato:

This denotes a lazy person, especially someone who keeps sitting on the couch and watching TV all day.

See how it’s used in sentences:

“Don’t be a couch potato. Get up and clean today.”

“I kept knocking on the door, but that couch potato didn’t bother to get up and answer.”

4. Hit the Books:

Start studying.

See how it’s used in sentences:

“It’s better you hit the books now; your exams are just around the corner.”

“I don’t think I will be able to go to the party tonight. I have to hit the books.”

5. Take a Rain Check:

Do something at another time, or postpone.

See how it’s used in sentences:

“Do you want to take a rain check for this party?”

“I have to complete my assignment today. Can I take a rain check for the movies?”

6. Cheesy:

Sounding cheap or tacky.

See how it’s used in sentences:

“Really? That was a cheesy pick-up line!”

“Did you hear that love song? It’s super cheesy, isn’t it?”

7. Drive up the wall:

To irritate someone.

See how it’s used in sentences:

“Stop it, man! You are being annoying; you’re driving me up the wall.”

“My little sister won’t stop asking questions, and it is driving me up the wall.”

8. Hold your horses:

Wait sometime or wait for a minute.

See how it’s used in sentences:

“I am getting ready as fast as I can! Hold your horses!”

“Your order has been placed. Hold your horses. It’ll be coming your way soon.”

9. Jonesing:

Your need for something urgently. To want something badly.

See how it’s used in sentences:

“I am jonesing for a tea latte. Can you get it as soon as possible, please?”

“I have seen you jonesing for that bag. You should buy it.”

10. To Ride Shotgun:

To be in the passenger seat.

See how it’s used in sentences:

“Dad, John got to ride shotgun last evening. I want to ride in the front this time!”

“Do you want to get back on the road? Who’d like to ride shotgun?”

11. Chicken Out:

To be cowardly, or to get out of a situation.

See how it’s used in sentences:

“She again chickened out of this morning’s pitch meeting.”

“I was going to tell the truth, but the moment my mom saw her favorite broken cup, I chickened out and told her the dog broke it.”

12. Something is Sick:

When something is really amazing.  

See how it’s used in sentences:

“Did you watch the latest Star Trek movie? It’s super sick!”

“I saw your play yesterday. It was so sick. Too good, man!”

A slang like “something is sick” sounds like an illness or something that is not great at all. But, when you look at its meaning, it’s the complete opposite.

Slangs come into place through the process of appropriation and assimilation. However, some slangs are adopted into the language due to certain events. Some prime examples of this are:

  • Having a meltdown/Going nuclear: Both of these slangs mean losing one’s temper. These slangs became popular surfacing of the atomic power.
  • Going postal: This simply means getting extremely angry, almost to the point of violence. This slang is often used during wars and ceasefires. It became popular in the 1980s, due to a certain class of civil servants committed a series of shootings, which led to a lot of chaos. The civil servants were “going postal.”

While living in America, you should equip yourself with the local dialect. The sooner you do that, the sooner the environment becomes comfortable for you.

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