If you’re learning English, then you’ve got lots of things to master including phrasal verbs, idioms and of course, English slang words.
Native speakers use slang every day and that can make them hard to understand.
So, in this post, you’ll learn 79 common English slang words and expressions that will help you understand native speakers.
Understanding And Using English Slang Words
Slang words are informal words and expressions that native speakers use in their everyday conversations, especially among friends.
Some slang has entered the language thanks to the internet. Other slang terms are less fashionable these days, but you’ll still hear some people use them.
While it’s good to learn English slang words so you can understand native speakers or movies better, slang can be tricky to use. Some slang words are very informal or even offensive so you need to be careful when you use them.
Slang varies between countries and regions within countries. Often young people, especially teenagers use the latest slang and it might sound weird for an older person to use it.
Just be aware of these variations. And pay attention to the English slang words people you know use a lot. Copying what the English slang words they actually use will help you sound more authentic.
Top 10 English Slang Words
Let’s get started with ten of the most common English slang words. You’ll hear these English slang words all the time and you might even know some of them already.
You’ll hear Americans, and plenty of other native speakers use this slang word all the time. It means “great” or “extremely good”.
Example: That movie was awesome – I’m going to go and see it again next week!
If you bail you stop doing something or leave a place or event before the end.
Example: There weren’t many people at the party so we bailed early.
This slang word refers to someone extremely attractive. But you can also use it to refer to your romantic partner, in the same way you would use “darling”.
- Wow, what a babe!
- I love you babe – happy anniversary!
This word can have a similar meaning to “awesome” – very good, great. And it can also mean that something is fashionable and that other people admire it.
- What a cool car!
- At school the cool kids ignored me.
You’ll hear “dude” all the time in American English – it means “man”.
Example: Who was that dude you were talking to last night?
6. Oh My God!
I’m sure you’ve heard this one before. You use it to emphasise how angry, shocked or surprised you are.
Example: Oh my God – what on earth happened here?
In American English, “pissed” means “angry”, but in the UK it means drunk!
- He’s going to be pissed when he finds out you borrowed his new car.
- What happened last night? I was so pissed I can’t remember anything!
If something sucks, then it's bad.
Example: It sucks that you can't come out with us tonight.
9. What’s Up?
This expression is the slang way to say “how are you?”. You’ll also see it spelled “wassup” or “whassup”.
Example: Hey what’s up dude? Long time no see!
10. You Bet
“You bet” is an informal way to say “you’re welcome” in US English.
A: Thanks for helping me with my homework.
B: You bet! Happy to help.
Slang To Do With Relationships
People usually use English slang words with people they’re close to, like friends or romantic partners. So it’s not surprising that many English slang words are about love and friendship.
You can use this English slang word to refer to your boyfriend or girlfriend. The letters ‘b’, ‘a’, ‘e’ stand for “before anyone else”.
Example: Hey bae, what are you doing tonight?
Your bestie is your best friend.
Example: She used to be my bestie, but we don’t talk any more.
Use “bro” to address your male friends.
Example: Hey bro, what’s going on?
If you have a crush on someone, you really like them, but the feeling usually doesn’t last long.
Example: I had such a crush on your brother in the final year of high school.
This English slang word means to end a romantic relationship.
Example: I can’t believe he dumped me by text message!
Your fam is a close friend or even a group of close friends.
Example: My new bae is going to meet the fam tonight.
To end a relationship by cutting off communication, especially online communication.
Example: We used to WhatsApp each other every day and then she just ghosted me.
18. Hook Up
This slang word has two meanings. You can use it to talk about meeting friends, but it can also refer to starting a romantic relationship.
- If you’re free later, do you want to hook up and go for a drink?
- A: So when did you two first hook up?
- B: At my bestie’s birthday party a couple of months ago.
19. Hang out
Use this slang word to talk about spending time with particular people.
Example: He hangs out at my place every afternoon.
20. Netflix and chill
This slang expression sounds like it’s about streaming a movie and relaxing right? But in fact, if you invite someone to “Netflix and chill”, you’re actually inviting someone over for romantic or sexual reasons, not to stream movies.
Example: Do you want to come back to my place to Netflix and chill?
People who are tight are in a close relationship and get on well.
Example: We used to be tight at school but we don’t speak so much nowadays.
Lots of English slang words are abbreviations that you’ll see in online communication like text messages or status updates on social media. Here are a few that you’ll see a lot.
This abbreviation stands for “as f**k” and you use it for emphasis.
Example: That party was awesome AF.
This abbreviation stands for “best friends forever” and like “bestie” you use it to refer to your best friend.
Example: I can’t wait to go on holiday with my BFF.
These letters stand for “greatest of all time”, meaning the absolute best at something. You usually hear this expression in relation to sports stars.
Example: Muhammad Ali was the original GOAT. *
*Apparently, the famous boxer, Muhammad Ali was the first person to refer to himself as the greatest of all time.
These letters stand for “original gangster”, but nowadays this abbreviation is used to refer to someone highly respected in their field.
A: I'm having trouble with my spreadsheet – the numbers are all wrong!
B: You should talk to Amy, she's the Excel spreadsheet OG!
Does this one sound familiar? It's the abbreviation of “oh my God” that you saw earlier.
Example: OMG! You must be joking.
This internet abbreviation stands for “to be honest”. You’ll probably see it in text messages and other online communication.
Example: TBH, I don’t like your new bae.
This slang abbreviation means “you only live once”. People often use it to justify risky behaviour.
Example: So I could have really hurt myself jumping from that high cliff, but hey, YOLO!
This internet slang term means “in real life”.
Example: I’m fed up with messaging. I want to meet you IRL.
Many English slang words are adjectives that you can use to describe someone or something in positive or negative ways.
This slang adjective means that someone or something is boring, average or unoriginal.
Example: Her new bae is so basic.
31. Cringe / Cringeworthy
Something cringe is embarrassing or awkward. This slang word can also be a verb that means to feel very embarrassed.
Example: That movie was so cringe.
This adjective means very easy and you’ll often see it with the word “job”.
Example: Where can I find a cushy job with a nice salary?
If a place like a nightclub is dead, then it means there’s not many people there and nothing interesting is happening.
Example: Why would you go out on Sunday night? All the bars and clubs are dead!
This English slang word can refer to illegal drugs. But when it’s an adjective, it means “very good”.
Example: That was a dope concert!
A hot person is a secually attractive one.
Example: His new girlfriend is really hot.
This is another adjective that means “extremely good”.
Example: That was a killer performance.
This adjective is the opposite of positive ones like “dope” or “killer”.
Example: That movie was so lame!
Here’s another positive adjective meaning that something is very good, exciting or enjoyable.
Example: You missed a lit party.
In a moderate or limited way. It can be a synonym for “somewhat” or “casually’.
Example: I’m low-key stressed about the test tomorrow.
If you’re “salty” then you’re resentful of a person or situation. In standard English, you would say “bitter”.
Example: She’s all salty because no-one liked her latest selfie that she spent hours posing for.
Shady people or things are questionable or suspicious.
Example: I don’t trust him – he seems kind of shady.
In slang, “sick” has quite a different meaning – it’s another way to say “very good” or “excellent”.
Example: Those were some sick dance moves!
So this word is actually a noun, not an adjective, but it’s slang for someone who has style or a lot of self-confidence, perhaps too much.
Example: He’s got some serious swag.
You can use “sweet” to mean “very good”.
Example: Wow, that’s a sweet car!
Someone thirsty doesn’t need a drink – they want attention, especially sexual attention.
Example: There are so many thirsty people on social media sharing selfies.
Hangry is a mixture of the words “hungry” and “angry” and refers to feeling annoyed when you haven’t had enough to eat.
Example: You haven’t eaten all day and it’s 4pm – no wonder you’re hangry!
In slang terms, “vanilla” is a bit like “basic” as it means something is plain or ordinary, not original.
Example: His personality is a bit vanilla don’t you think?
This English slang word means “drunk”.
Example: Give me the keys – you’re wasted. There’s no way you can drive.
If you’re woke, then you’re aware of social justice issues such as racism or inequality.
Example: He’s so woke that our first date was at a demonstration!
Slang To Insult People
A I said at the start of this post, you need to be careful when you use some English slang words as they’re offensive. Here are a few examples.
An “airhead” is a stupid person.
Example: I don’t know what they talk about together because his new girlfriend is a total airhead.
This is a rather offensive term for an attractive woman who isn’t very intelligent.
Example: She often plays bimbos in movies but she’s actually really smart in reality.
Nothing to do with the bird when it comes to slang. A “chicken” means a “coward”.
Example: Are you coming with us or are you too much of a chicken?
53. Douche / Douchebag
A “douche” is someone who is obnoxious or offensive.
Example: You were a real douchebag to everyone last night. Were you wasted?
54. OK Boomer
This is a phrase that young people will say to mock and dismiss older people who express outdated ideas associated with the “baby boomer” generation i.e people born between 1946 and 1964.
A: If young people stopped spending all their money on lattes and avocado toast, they’d be able to pay for a house.
B: OK boomer
Someone stupid, usually a man.
Example: He’s a real jerk – I can’t stand him.
“Karen” is a woman’s first name. In slang, a “Karen” is a middle-aged white woman who is rude and demanding, especially to staff at restaurants, bars, in shops etc.
A: That customer complained about me and asked to speak to the manager!
B: What a Karen!
If you call someone a loser, then you’re saying that you have no respect for them or a low opinion of them. This is often because the person is incompetent.
Example: Get away from me you loser!
A nerd is usually a man who is socially awkward and more interested in technical things like computers.
Example: Why were you talking to him? He’s such a nerd!
This English slang word is a synonym for “jerk”, in other words, a stupid person.
Example: Did you see what he just did? What a tool!
Slang To Do With Work And Money
Work and money are important parts of our lives right? So that’s why there are lots of English slang words to talk about them.
This word is slang for a hundred dollar bill. Why? Because you can see the face of Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the USA, on these bills.
Example: Where did you get all those benjamins? Are you a drug dealer or something?
A buck is a slang word that means “dollar”?
Example: Could you lend me ten bucks?
This slang word simply means “money” and it’s a bit of an old-fashioned slang word.
Example: I’d love to come out with you guys tonight but I’ve got no dough.
A “gig” is slang for a “job”.
Example: How did the interview go? Do you think you’ll get the gig?
64. Goof Off
If you “goof off” then you avoid doing work or waste time.
Example: The boss caught us goofing off in the break room during our shift.
This English slang word means a thousand dollars.
Example: He got fired from a job where he made two hundred grand a year!
“Peanuts” means a small amount of money.
Example: I like working there but they pay you peanuts.
If something is a rip-off then it’s not worth the money you pay for it.
Example: Those concert tickets were a rip-off: $100 for a show that lasted 45 minutes!
68. Screw up
Here’s another English slang word that’s also a phrasal verb. If you screw (something) up, then you make a mistake.
Example: My boss is going to be pissed when he realises I screwed up half the orders.
69. Slack Off
“Slack off” means pretty much the same thing as “goof off”. Both of these slang words are also phrasal verbs in English.
Example: No slacking off today – we're expecting a lot of customers.
Finally, let’s take a look at some slang contractions. These are different to regular contractions in English such as “I’m” or “she’ll” because they’re so much more informal.
You wouldn’t write these contractions usually, unless in a really informal context like texting a close friend.
But they’ll help you improve your listening skills. That’s because these contractions are based on the way native speakers pronounce words you already know in a fast, informal way.
This contraction stands for “I am going to”
Example: I’mma kill you!
This is the contraction of “I don’t know”.
A: What time will you get home?
This slang contraction is a mixture of the words “give” and “me”.
Example: Gimme a call later, after you finish work.
“Gonna” is a blend of the words “going” and “to”. In fast speech, “to” can sound like “ta” and we’ll see some more examples like that below.
Example: My parents are gonna be so angry that I had a party while they were away.
This slang contraction is made up of the words “got” and “to”. If you’ve “gotta” do something, then you have to do it.
Example: I’m sorry but I gotta go, I have a bus to catch.
“Hafta” is the contraction of “have to” and has the same meaning as “gotta”.
Example: You're gonna hafta leave now.
The expression “kind of” means “somewhat” and in fast speech it usually sounds like “kinda”.
Example: It’s a weird book but I kinda linked it.
This slang contraction is a mixture of the words “out” and “of”.
Example: I gotta get outta the house more often.
This informal contraction is a combination of the words “want” and “to”.
Example: I don’t wanna go out tonight.
This slang abbreviation stands for “what are you”.
Example: Watcha doing?
Enrich Your English With English Slang Words
So there you have it – 79 common English slang words and expressions to help you understand casual conversations, internet language as well as movies and TV series.
As you’ve seen, slang varies over time and some slang words are becoming old-fashioned. Some are more recent and might not be around for long.
Slang can also teach you a lot about how society is evolving. A slang word like “OK Boomer” suggests that there are increasing tensions between different generations. So slang can even help you understand the culture of English-speaking countries better.
If you’re looking for the best way to master English slang words, while this list is a good start, you’ll learn slang more easily by applying the StoryLearning method and reading in English.
As you read short stories in English, especially modern ones with lots of dialogue between the characters, you’ll see the most common English slang words over and over again.