American Slang A - Z




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U.S. Citizenship









rack up: 1. to accumulate over time; 2. to win or lose something again.

1. It's easy to rack up a lot of personal debt when you use credit cards.

2. The team racked up their fifth loss of the season with last night's defeat.


rag: to complain; to say negative things.

My girlfriend keeps ragging about her roommate. She should just find another place to live.


rap: a style of modern music rooted in African American culture, now prevalent around the world.

Juan's father hates the sound of rap. He prefers more traditional music.


rapper: a performer of rap music. (also, rap star)

Biggie Smalls is a rapper whose life is portrayed in Notorious, a recently released film biography of his life.


rat race: competition in the world of work; competition in business.

Since joining the rat race, Tony has aged very quickly from all the stress he experiences at work.


raunchy: usually entertainment that is a little dirty, a little vulgar.

Madonna is a talented performer, but some of her videos are a little too raunchy for the tastes of some people.


raw: unpracticed; without covering.

This band has a great, raw sound, but they need to practice a little more before they perform in public.


raw deal: a bad situation; unfairness.

African Americans got a raw deal when they were brought to the United States from Africa as slaves.


razzle-dazzle: flashy style.

She's a very good singer, but I can do without all the razzle-dazzle that goes on behind her.


read: to understand.

It's hard to get a good read on the new boss. His mood doesn't change very much.


red-hot: popular; something everyone wants to buy.

Those t-shirts are so red-hot, they're sold off the shelves as soon as they arrive in the stores.


redneck: a white person who is not very well-educated, likes to shoot guns, drive big trucks, and takes pride in being a little stupid or backward. Most live in the southern part of the U.S. but they can be found almost everywhere--except in the cities. (Be careful: Some white people consider this an offensive word; others consider it a badge of honor.)

Billy Bob is kind of a redneck because of his racist and intolerant view of blacks and Latinos.


red tape: government paperwork; bureaucracy.

Starting a business is difficult enough without all the red-tape a person has to go through to get it started.


rep: short for "representative" or "reputation."

Syndy said she didn't want to go out with Tad because it would give her a bad rep.


repo: short for "repossession."

Our neighbors had their car taken in the middle of the night by a repo man.


retro: something kind of old, at least 20 or 30 years.

Retro styles of the 1970s are still popular these days.


revolving door: a situation in which people come and go very quickly.

The job was so difficult, it quickly became known as a revolving door at that company, and no one wanted to go through it.


right on: hat's good; that's correct; yes. (used to express agreement or happiness)

A: It looks like we're going to get a raise this year.

B: Yeah! Right on!


rights: your protection under the law; in the United States, protection under the U.S. Constitution--the law of the land.

Did you say the police just came into your house without permission from a judge? They can't do that. You should know your rights.


rinky dink: something of poor quality.

Joan wants to leave her rinky-dink apartment and find something bigger.


rip off: cheat; to trick a consumer into making a bad purchase.

I feel like I got ripped off when I bought these shoes, so I'm going to take them back.


rip on: to criticize; to say bad things about someone or something.

Nelson has to stop ripping on his kids.


rob the cradle: to marry or have a relationship with a person who is much younger.

Terry likes his new girlfriend, but with a 20-year difference in age, he's really robbing the cradle. It makes him a little uncomfortable


rocky: difficult; a situation with a lot of problems.

Their marriage entered a rocky period, but they worked through their problems and decided to stay together.


roll: go; leave.

Is everyone ready to roll? Yes? Okay, let's roll.


rookie: a person who is a new member of a sports team or other organization.

A rookie cop shot and killed someone who turned out to be completely innocent of any wrong-doing.


root for: to support; to cheer for.

A: Which soccer team are you rooting for?

B: Manchester United.


rubber: prophylactic protection for sexual activity; also called a "condom."

Henry keeps a rubber in his wallet just in case he gets lucky, but he never does.


rug rats: small children, usually under the age of three or four. Called "rug rats" because they crawl a lot on soft carpeted surfaces.

With four rug rats at home, Kurt sometimes doesn't mind spending a few extra hours at work.


run: to leave quickly.

Oh no! Look at the time! I've got to run.


runaround: to avoid a subject; to be indirect.

When the president of the company was asked in a TV interview about the pollution created by his factory, he gave the interviewer the runaround and then quickly left the TV studio.


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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