American Slang A - Z

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hairy: difficult; complicated.

The loss of a job creates a very hairy situation for a family.

 

hands-on: involved; to be part of something.

Her style of teaching second-graders is very hands-on. The students are always making things in the classroom

 

hands-off: not involved; allow others to do work.

The owner of the company takes a hands-off approach to management and allows his employees to make most of the big decisions.

 

hang it up: to stop doing something.

After a long career in politics, the Senator has decided to hang it up and retire.

 

happy hour: a time at a bar or restaurant when prices for drinks and food cost less. Popular during the week, especially Friday afternoons.

Let's wait until happy hour starts before buying some drinks.

 

hardball: a tough, competitive situation. ("hardball" is a reference to baseball)

Ted's company is going to have to start playing hardball if it wants to stay in business.

 

hard up for: desperate to get something; to desire something.

I feel pretty hard up for some good, fresh tomatoes.

 

has been: someone who is no longer famous; a former celebrity. (this looks like a verb but you use it as a noun)

She was once on every national magazine cover in the 1980s, but now she's a has been and no one recognizes her.

 

hassle: a problem; something irritating. Used as a noun or as a verb.

After my car was towed, it was a big hassle and very expensive to go downtown and get it back.

 

haul ass: go fast (a little vulgar)

Let's haul ass out of here!

 

have a ball: to have a very good time; to have fun.

We had a ball at the party last night. Everyone stayed up until three in the morning.

 

have a cow: to get angry

Zippo's father had a cow when he found out his son was dating a girl of another religious faith.

 

have it: to be upset; to want something to stop.

The American people have had it with a government that doesn't serve their needs. That's why the Republicans lost and the Democrats won in the '08 elections. ( "had it" is often used in the present perfect tense)

 

have it together: to be well-organized; to lead a respectable life.

I'm sorry, I just don't have it together today.

 

have it good: to have a good situation, often used to describe one's position at work.

Even though Michael has it really good right now, he still works on the weekends to make extra money.

 

have the hots / have got the hots : to like someone a lot.

She's got the hots for one of her coworkers.

 

head: the top; the person who leads a group or a company.

The head of the corporation made some big mistakes and resigned.

 

heads-up: a warning or caution; watch out for this.

Our supervisor gave everyone a heads-up today and said that we needed to work a little harder in order to keep our jobs.

 

head trip: a person has a high opinion of himself or herself based on some past accomplishment.

She's been on a big head trip ever since she appeared in that TV commercial.

 

heebie-jeebies: to feel a little sick or queasy at the mention or sight of something unpleasant.

Big hairy spiders give Janice the heebie-jeebies.

 

hell: a bad situation (Be careful with this word. some very conservative, religious people think it's bad to use it, but it's not. "Heck" is a good substitute if you're worried about eternal damnation.)

His car has been giving him hell lately, so he brought it in to bet it fixed.

 

hell of it: for no good reason.

Just for the hell of it, let's see what happens if we buy a few lottery tickets this weekend.

 

hey: hi

  • A: Hey, Tony. How's it going?
  • B: Hey, Paul. Good. How are you?

 

hick: a person who lives in the country (way outside of the city) and whose educational achievements are low. Often used with the word "stupid." Voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004)

You know those stupid hicks who leave all their cars parked in the front yard? They had a big party last weekend and burned down their barn.

 

high: to feel light and dizzy from drugs or alcohol or both.

It doesn't take Mario very much to get high. He's often high at work.

 

high five: to slap a person's hand in the air, usually done in celebration of an accomplishment.

high five

High-five, man!

 

high tech: new technology; a product or machine that looks completely modern and new.

It's fun to work at a job where everything is high-tech.

 

hip: cool; aware of current trends

Raya tries so hard to be hip, but she just looks silly in the clothes that she wears.

 

hippie: a person with long hair and nonconforming beliefs; someone whose antiestablishment ideas are similar to those of the 1960s and 1970s counterculture.

The hippies who live down the street turned their entire front yard into a garden.

 

hit the spot: to consume something that provides satisfaction; to eat or drink something good.

This cup of coffee really hits the spot.

 

hokey: phony; overly sentimental.

Why do you like those hokey movies on TV? They always follow the same formula.

 

hold up: wait.

Can you hold up a minute? I have to tie my shoe.

 

holy cow: wow! (this is used as an exclamation when something surprising or amazing happens.)

Holy cow! Look at the size of that boat!

 

homeboy / hommie: a friend, a person who lives in you neighborhood. (African American origin, but now popular among young people)

I'm going to a concert with some of my hommies tonight.

 

hooked: addicted; unable to stop doing something.

Doris is hooked on video games. She plays them all the time.

 

hoops: the game of basketball.

Darrel and Roger stayed after school to play some hoops.

 

hooters: a woman's breasts. (This is also the name of an American restaurant that hires women with big breasts to work as waitresses)

She's got a big pair of hooters!

 

horny: to feel sexually aroused.

Whenever she gets horny, she calls her old boyfriends on the phone and tries to arrange dates.

 

horse around: to goof around; to play when work should be done.

Hey, you kids! Stop horsing around and finish your homework.

 

hose: to cheat.

Jeremy got hosed by a car dealer and paid way too much for his car.

 

hot: attractive; good-looking; sometimes used to describe a popular product.

The new iPhones are so hot, they're flying off the shelves.

 

hottie: a beautiful woman

A woman who works in our office is such a hottie, she turns heads wherever she goes in the building.

 

hunker down: work hard; prepare for something difficult.

It's time to hunker down and start studying for tomorrow's math test.

 

hype: to promote; something that is promoted. (this can be a verb or a noun)

Don't believe the hype. Use your own judgment in deciding if a popular song is good or not.

Attention: Some slang is inappropriate in certain situations. That's why you see the word "caution" after some of these slang words. Some slang is considered to be vulgar.

vulgar = impolite or considered a swear word. Don't use it around your supervisor or someone who might be offended.

 

 

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