18 Essential American Slang Words for English Learners

18 Essential American Slang Words for English Learners

For many international students, moving to the United States can be daunting. Not only are they exposed to a myriad of unfamiliar customs, they are also bombarded with a myriad of unfamiliar American slang words.

Because these words are often not included in a formal English education, it can be grueling for international students to grow accustomed to their widespread, and arguably excessive, use.

Here’s a run down on some of the most common slang. It will help you understand your friends better, it will help you fit in and of course it will help you avoid any more embarrassing situations.

18 Essential American Slang Words for ESL Students

No Slang Words Meaning Example
1 Cool (adj)  Cool (adj) means ‘great’ or ‘fantastic’. It also shows that you’re okay with an idea. “Okay, cool! I’ll be there at 7:00”(okay with an idea)

“He passed the exam, Cool!”(means “great!”)

2 To be beat (adj) To be beat (adj) If you hear a friend saying I’m beat, it means he or she is very tired or exhausted.        “Will you attend the football match with Tiger School?”

“Sorry, I can’t. I’m beat. I did not sleep last night”

3 Awesome (adj) Awesome (adj) like “Cool”, it means “excellent”, “great” or “remarkable”. It can be used in a sentence or it could be used in a one word reply. “That was awesome!”

“Awesome, dude!”

4 To hang out (verb) To hang out (verb) means to spend time doing nothing in particular. “After this is over, do you want to go hang out?”

“He hung out with his friends all day yesterday.”

5 To Chill Out (verb) To Chill Out (verb) simply means to relax. Usually it can be used with or without the word ‘out’. It also means to calm down. “Since I’m between projects, I think I’ll just chill out.”

“I wish I could chill out about the neighbor’s barking dog, but it wakes me up every night.”

6 Wheels (noun) Wheels (noun)  When somebody refers to their wheels they are talking about their car.     “Sorry Honey, I can’t pick up you now. I don’t have my wheels at the moment?”

“Do you like my new Wheels?

7 Babe (noun) Babe (noun) means an attractive person, especially a young woman. If you refer to someone as a babe, it means that you think they’re hot and attractive. “She’s a real babe!”


8 Busted (adjective/verb) Busted (adjective/verb) means being caught in the act of doing something they shouldn’t do. “I saw you take that cookie from the cookie jar! You’re busted!”
9 To have a blast (verb) To have a blast (verb) means that something is great or having an amazing and fun time.      “How was the Fast & Furious 7?”

“It was awesome. Everyone had a blast.”

10 To have a crush (on somebody) (verb)  To have a crush (on somebody) (verb) means being attracted to somebody and would like them to be more than just a friend. “…The most common sign of having a crush is the feeling that you have a million butterflies flying around inside you when that special someone is around…”
11 To dump somebody (verb) To dump somebody (verb) means to stop having a romantic relationship with someone. “Didn’t you hear? David  dumped Sophia last night”

“Wow, I’m surprised. They always looked so happy together!”

12 Ex (noun) Ex (noun) usually refers to an old boyfriend or girlfriend of someone. It can be used with another noun, for example ‘boss’ ex-boss it means your boss from before.  “She broke up with her ex

“I met my ex-boss yesterday at Pho Restaurant”

13 Geek (noun)  Geek (noun) refers a person who is intensely interested in a particular field or hobby. “I was a complete computer geek in high school, but I get out a lot more now.”
14 To be hooked on something (verb) To be hooked on something (verb) means being addicted to something. “I’m really hooked on the Coffee at Plus Bar”
15 To be in (adjective) To be in (adjective) means to be in fashion or trending at the moment.  “Hey do you like my haircut? It’s the in thing now!”
16 Epic Fail (noun) Epic Fail (noun) means a ‘total failure’ or a “big disaster” “ManU lost 6-1, can you believe it?”

“Yeah, epic fail!”

17 Dunno (verb) Dunno simply means ‘I don’t know’. “Where’d he go?”


18 To be ripped (adjective) To be ripped (adjective) means having great muscles and bodies – probably due to working out. “John, You are so ripped. How long you been training and what is your diet like?”


For more slang words, please visit Slang Dictionary from idiomsandslang.com
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Author: Harry
Category: Editor Picks, English, Speaking, Vocabulary
Date: April 4, 2016