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Speaking Fluently Means Understanding Slang
So, you’ve studied English vocabulary fervently. You’ve even done the unthinkable and made sense of the endless number of grammar rules. You’ve made it. “I’m a fluent English speaker,” you say to yourself.
Until one day, someone comes up to you and says, “Are you okay? You’re high-key acting sus, no cap.” Before you can decipher that sentence, he continues, “We’re all vibing over here, but we low-key want to know what’s the tea.” You flail your arms in dismay and give up learning English.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. What you’ve just run into is slang. And trust us when we say, there’s a lot more where that came from.
Learning English slang words is just like learning any other type of word—it takes practice and familiarization. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of current terms commonly used in everyday English. We’ll tell you what they mean and give you example sentences to show you how to use them correctly.
This list will make you a more fluent English speaker, no cap.
What Is “Slang”?
Slang is an informal type of vocabulary used in casual conversations and recognized and understood by certain groups of people. For example, there can be teenage slang, business slang, sport-specific slang, and many other types.
Slang varies based on location and demographic. The slang you hear in the United States may differ significantly from that which you hear in the United Kingdom, Australia, or Canada.
Moreover, the slang you encounter in the United States can also vary based on region. You may be familiar with southern slang, but not mid-western slang.
The list below can be loosely defined as general American slang. In other words, it’s the type of slang that’s popular in pop culture and mainstream media.
List of Slang Words
It’s a good idea to learn some English slang words because you never know when you’ll come across them. Even if you don’t use it yourself because you prefer formal vocabulary, knowing what specific slang terms mean can help you avoid misunderstandings.
We should note that many words in this list have formal definitions separate from their slang meaning. In other words, some words below can be used as slang, but they’re also used with their original meaning. The list focuses only on their slang usage.
Bet is used as a way to confirm or agree with something. Consider it a synonym for okay or sounds good.
—Can you pick up Joshua in an hour?
—Bet, I’ll be there.
Boujee (also spelled bougie) is mostly used as an adjective describing something extravagant, luxurious, or of high-class taste.
Boujee can also describe a person who is materialistic, pretentious, or who prioritizes an upscale lifestyle.
Keep in mind that context matters when using the term boujee. It can be employed in a positive and friendly way, but it can also carry a negative connotation and judgmental tone.
We were looking for a local bar, but the one we ended up at was much more boujee than we had hoped for.
To curve someone is to dismiss someone’s flirtatious advances or expressions of interest. In other words, if someone is flirting with you, and you tell them you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, you’ve curved them.
Nathaniel tried to meet a girl at the party, but he said they all curved him.
DM is an abbreviation for direct message. It refers to a private message sent via a social media platform like Facebook or X (formerly known as Twitter).
I can’t talk right now, but send me a DM, and I’ll catch up with you later.
Furthermore, to slide into someone’s DMs is to send someone a flirty message via social media in hopes of starting a romantic relationship.
I slid into her DMs and asked for her number.
To be extra means to be dramatic or behave in an excessive way. For example, if you start crying because your favorite meal at a restaurant has sold out, one might say you’re being extra.
You don’t have to go to the emergency room for a simple headache, Luis. You’re being a little extra.
To flex means to show off or brag about one’s accomplishments, possessions, or abilities. It’s frequently used to describe someone who is trying to impress others.
I don’t want to flex, but my new job is paying me three times as much as my old one.
To ghost someone is to abruptly cut off all communication with them, especially if they were a potential romantic interest. Ghosting not only means you no longer talk to someone, but you disappear unexpectedly.
I thought things were going well between us, but she ended up ghosting me.
To express something high-key means to do so in a way that is open, obvious, and apparent. Think of it as an informal synonym for really.
It’s also used to add emphasis. If someone says, “I high-key want to watch the Barbie movie,” that means they aren’t ashamed of wanting to watch it. If, after they watch it, they say, “I high-key loved that movie,” that means they truly enjoyed it.
I high-key want to organize a charity run to raise money for the local shelter.
9. I’m dead
I’m dead is a slang phrase conveying extreme shock, amusement, disbelief, or surprise. It’s a hyperbolic way of reacting to something funny or shocking.
If you tell someone a funny joke, and they respond with “I’m dead,” that’s equivalent to them saying that it was so funny they were going to “die” of laughter.
I’m dead—I can’t believe I accidentally ruined the surprise party I’ve been planning for months.
In the slang world, jacked has a few different meanings. Currently, it’s used to describe someone who is physically strong and muscular. Someone who is considered jacked spends a lot of time at the gym working on their strength and physical appearance.
Have you been working out? You looked jacked!
L is used as a synonym for loss or failure. If your favorite soccer team lost by five goals, you can say they took a massive L.
I barely studied, so I was ready to take an L on the exam.
Lit is often utilized to describe something as extremely exciting and enjoyable. A party where all your friends are having a good time can be considered lit.
Additionally, you can use lit as an adjective to describe a person who is lively, enthusiastic, and maybe even slightly intoxicated.
How is it over there? Is it lit, or should I just go home instead?
Low-key is the opposite of high-key (#8 in this list). It’s used to express something in a secretive, subtle, or understated manner. If someone says something and precedes it with low-key, that means they want to keep it discreet.
Don’t tell anyone, but I low-key like this song.
14. No Cap
When someone says no cap, that means they are being honest. It’s typically employed to indicate that a sentence or clause just spoken is free of any lies. Think of it as another way to say “seriously.”
This is the most beautiful house I’ve ever seen, no cap.
Think of cap as meaning “lie.” Therefore, if someone says that’s cap, it means, that’s a lie.
The complete phrase is usually living in someone’s mind rent-free. That means someone is excessively preoccupied with something to the extent that they can’t stop thinking about it.
Imagine you owned an apartment and had a tenant living there who was not paying rent. Why would you tolerate that, right? Why not just kick out the tenant from the apartment or the thought from your mind?
Why are you letting that situation live in your head rent-free? It happened months ago!
Rizz is short for charisma and refers to someone’s ability to be incredibly charming and well-liked. To have rizz is to be able to effortlessly talk to people, often in a flirtatious manner.
You’re so good with the ladies! Where did you get all that rizz?
Savage is a term used to describe someone or something bold or fierce. Someone who is savage is audacious and unapologetic about it. It can also describe someone assertive or witty.
I can’t believe you said that. That was a savage comeback.
Simp describes someone (typically a man) as excessively attentive, submissive, or affectionate to someone (usually a woman).
It’s generally used as a derogatory term to insult someone for going to great lengths to gain someone’s favor.
Be careful not to use this word, as it can be incredibly demeaning.
I blocked him on social media because he kept calling me a simp whenever I showed any form of affection towards my wife.
Slay is often used as an enthusiastic and supportive phrase when someone is excelling in a particular area. It’s utilized to praise someone’s appearance, accomplishments, or skills.
Yes, girl, slay! You look so good in that dress.
He totally slayed that performance.
You were slaying up there!
There are fans, and then there are stans.
A stan is someone who is an extremely enthusiastic and dedicated fan of a celebrity, artist, or other type of well-known person. Stan can be applied to describe someone who is a bit overzealous, or maybe even obsessed, with a public figure.
I’m such a stan for Harry Styles, and I have no shame about it!
Sus is short for “suspicious” or “suspect.” When you refer to someone as sus, it indicates that you are skeptical about their intentions, behavior, or actions. Someone who is sus is questionable and possibly deceitful.
I don’t believe that happened. That story sounds kind of sus to me.
You’re being so sus. Is everything okay?
Tea means “gossip.” So, when someone says, spill the tea, they are asking you to share the fun and sometimes scandalous information about a specific topic.
I heard he has a new girlfriend. Do you know about that? Give me the tea!
She says she has some tea about last night’s party.
To be thirsty is to crave attention from someone else romantically. It’s commonly employed in a critical manner to describe someone who is overly eager or desperate for attention.
However, it’s also sometimes used more broadly to refer to an individual seeking validation or approval in various social situations.
Stop commenting on all her pictures. You’re being so thirsty!
There’s no need to feel like you have to impress anyone here, so don’t be thirsty or anything like that.
To be vibing means to be in a good or relaxed mood. Vibing implies a sense of positivity and harmony with one’s surroundings.
We’re just having a good time, vibing and listening to music.
I met someone and we’re really vibing.
W is the opposite of an L (#12 on our list).
Essentially, a W is short for “win” and represents a triumph or accomplishment. It’s used playfully and lightheartedly to acknowledge success or something positive.
Keep in mind that while “L” can be used in written and verbal communication, “W” is usually reserved for written text. It’s not common to hear someone say “W” in speech.
We got first place in the air fair. That’s a big W for us!
Some More About “Slang”
There you have it—a list of current English slang words so that you can be ready next time someone hits you with a sentence like, “She said you high-key have a lot of rizz and that you two were vibing.”
There are a few things to keep in mind about slang.
- Slang is ever-evolving. A word can have one meaning today, and a completely different one in a few years.
- That also means that there’s an endless list of terms, including outdated slang, and slang that’s yet to be created!
- It’s important to note that it should only be used in informal and casual situations. You should avoid slang when interacting with your boss or in any other professional setting. This can be tricky if you tend to use slang often, so make sure you use LanguageTool as your writing assistant, as it can suggest more formal wording in your text.