American Slang A - Z

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ma'am: polite form of address for older women (usually over the age of 30--younger women don't like it. Similar to the word "madam.")

Excuse me, ma'am. Is this your purse?

 

macho: manly; masculine; strong (comes from Spanish).

Alex's moustache makes him look so macho.

 

make a killing: make a lot of money; to do well.

We made a killing after the concert last night and sold out of t-shirts.

 

make a pass at: to try to attract someone romantically.

He didn't realize she was making a pass at him until someone told him she liked him.

 

make it: to be successful.

It's hard to make it in the restaurant business because there's so much competition.

 

make out: 1. profit; result; 2. kiss.

1a. How did we make out last year?

1b. We made over $100,000.

2. A police officer caught a couple of teenagers making out in the parking lot and told them to go somewhere else. ("make out" is very popular among young people to describe the act of kissing.)

 

max out: spend to the limit, usually on credit cards.

Janice wasn't able to get the coat that she wanted because she maxed out all her credit cards.

 

mean: very good. (not easy to use for people just learning English)

My mother makes a mean apple pie.

 

meanie: a mean person; a person who doesn't give you what you want.

Why can't I borrow your car? Why are you being such a meanie?

 

meat and potatoes: basic needs; minimum requirements.

Troy is a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy. If you try to serve him something fancy, he won't eat it.

 

mega: a large amount; something very big. (often used as a prefix)

We're going to the Megamall today. Do you want to come? (A lot of Minnesotans call the Mall of America the Megamall.)

 

mellow out: calm down; don't be so angry.

If Sandy doesn't start mellowing out at work, she's going to get fired because everyone is sick of her attitude.

 

mental: a little crazy; abnormal behavior (but not really crazy).

When she found out her cat ran away, she went mental for a few days trying to find it.

 

mess around: to kiss or have sex.

Zoe was caught messing around with her boss, and they both got in big trouble.

 

mess up: make a mistake.

When Nasra messed up her test, the teacher let her take it again.

 

miffed: slightly angered; a little angry.

Why did the neighbors get so miffed when the children ran across their lawn?

 

mileage: some benefit; something extra. (normally used for cars and the number of miles put on the engine)

Let's see how much more mileage we can get out of this computer. It's only three years old.

 

milk: to take something; take advantage.

An elderly couple down the street was milked out of their retirement savings by a con man.

 

million bucks: a good feeling, emotional or physical; to look good.

Sandra looks like a million bucks after a couple of weeks in Miami.

 

miss the boat: lose the opportunity; fail to take action.

You're going to miss the boat if you don't get in on this. It's the opportunity of a lifetime.

 

Mister Nice Guy: a nice person, usually a man. (sometimes used with sarcasm).

Don't pretend to be Mr. Nice Guy with me. I know what you really want.

 

mix-up: a mistake.

There was a mix-up at the grocery store when Alejandro took the wrong shopping cart.

 

mojo: strength; ability.

A couple of espressos will get your mojo working for you fast.

 

mom and pop: a small business, usually a family-owned business.

The mom-and-pop grocery store down the street had to close when a Walmart opened in town.

 

monkey around: fool around; try to figure out something through the use of an object.

If you monkey around with a new cell phone long enough, you won't have to read the owner's manual.

 

mooch: to beg; to ask for something; to benefit from the work of others.

Those two little boys were trying to mooch a couple of quarters from that little girl, but the teacher walked over and stopped them.

 

moocher: a person who begs for things; a person who mooches.

You can't get through life by being a moocher. At some point, you have to work for your own money.

 

mother: something large; something powerful; the genesis of something. (be careful--this can be associated with vulgar language).

Greed and lust for money is the mother of all evil.

 

mouth off: to talk to someone with disrespect.

If you mouth off to your teacher again, she'll make you go to the principal's office.

 

move: sell; to be purchased by customers very quickly.

If those shirts don't starting moving, we'll have to put them on sale at 50 percent off.

 

mud-slinging: to say negative things about someone, sometimes lying.

Politicians are often guilty of mud-slinging right before an election, and the voters really get tired of it fast.

 

mushy: 1. soft; 2. overly sentimental or romantic.

1. The customers aren't buying the mangos because they're mushy.

2. Juan's girlfriend started to get too mushy with him all the time, so he ended the relationship.

 

mystery meat: meat that appears in fast food or in a cafeteria; unidentifiable and processed meat--usually a chicken, beef, or pork product.

The school calls them chicken fingers, but it looks like mystery meat to me.

 

 

 

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