American Slang A - Z

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U.S. Citizenship

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

sack: fire someone from a job.

The president of the company sacked half of his office staff because the company was losing money.

 

sap: a stupid person; someone who is naive.

If Nelson wasn't such a sap, he'd realize that his old girlfriend doesn't want him to call anymore.

 

Say what?: What did you say?

 

Says who?: according to what authority? Who are you to tell me I can't do this?

A: You can't park here.

B: Oh yeah? Says who?

 

scaredy cat: someone who is afraid (commonly used by children, but adults might use it, too)

You can't go to sleep without a nightlight? Don't be such a scaredy cat!

 

scatterbrain: a person who can't concentrate or remember things well.

Our teacher was a real scatterbrain today. She couldn't remember which homework assignment she gave us.

 

schmooze: to socialize; to go to a party and talk, especially when related to business.

If you want to get ahead in the company you work for, sometimes you have to schmooze with people you don't like very much.

 

score: to get something good.

Tito scored front row tickets to a U2 concert.

 

screw: to cheat or put someone in a bad position.

Helen got screwed by a car dealer when she traded in her old car. (caution: sometimes this word is a little vulgar.)

 

screw around: play around; to do things without seriousness.

You'd better stop screwing around and get your homework done.

 

screw up: to make a big mistake.

Many Americans are very mad at rich people and Republicans who screwed up the economy.

 

scrounge: to try to find something; to scavenge.

Every morning Justin scrounges around his room looking for clean clothes to wear.

 

scuz bag: a dirty person; physically or morally unclean.

The scuz bag who lives down the street was caught peeking into his neighbors' house.

 

scuzzy: the quality of dirtiness.

Don't you feel kind of scuzzy if you go more than two days without taking a shower?

 

see-through: transparent; something light; easy to see through and see behind something.

A lovely woman in a see-through blouse caught the attention of everyone at the party.

 

selfie - a photo that a person takes of oneself.

I took this selfie while standing the elevator.

selfie selfie

 

sell out: to trade popularity or skill for money; to create art or entertainment that appeals to a large audience.

This was a great band until they sold out. Now they're music is really boring.

 

set (one) back: to cost

How much is a new Apple computer going to set me back?

 

set of wheels: a car

Jason got a new set of wheels with money he saved over the last two summers.

 

settle for: to take something that is less than satisfying.

When Wendy was told she didn't get into her first choice of a college, she settled for her second choice.

 

shades: sunglasses

Nice pair of shades! Where did you get them?

 

shaft: putting someone in a bad position.

The coach gave Ed the shaft by pulling him out of the game and making him sit on the bench.

 

shake it: hurry up

Hey, the movie starts in ten minutes. Let's shake it!

 

shape up: improve your behavior; try to do better.

Tony's behavior at school had better shape up or else he's going to lose his parents' respect.

 

sharp: stylish; well-groomed. (often used for men, but possible to use with women)

Duane looks really sharp in that jacket.

 

shebang: the whole thing; all of it; everything.

Tina and Mark paid for their daughter's wedding. The whole shebang cost them $10,000.

 

shlep: carry something heavy.

Our building doesn't have an elevator, so we have to shlep everything up three flights of stairs.

 

schmuck: a stupid person; a name given to a person for foolishness or insensitivity.

Brad feels like a schmuck because he forgot today was his girlfriend's birthday and he didn't buy her anything.

 

short: not having enough money.

The tickets are $30 a piece, but if you're short, I'll lend you some cash.

 

shot: in bad condition.

The tires on that car look like they're shot. They'll have to be replaced really soon.

 

shout out: to say "hi" in a public place; to promote a group or an individual through public recognition.

I just want to give a big shout out to all my friends in Mumbai.

 

show-biz: the entertainment industry; the business of entertainment.

Instead of going to college, Sandra moved to Los Angeles and tried getting into show-biz.

 

shush: be quiet.

A couple of students were talking while everyone was taking a test, so the teacher told them to shush.

 

shut up: stop talking

Shut up! I can't think!

 

sick: cool; interesting (this slang is very new, so not everyone will recognize it. Popular among very young people.)

Oh, man, that's sick. (That's really great!)

 

sign on: to go onto a website or provide a password for entry.

Do you remember what your password is? If not, you won't be able to sign on.

 

sign up: to agree to become part of something; to join a group or a team.

It's really easy to sign up as a member to this website.

 

sissy: a man whose behavior is unmanly; a man or boy who behaves like a girl or a woman.

Two fifth-grade boys who called Robert a sissy on the playground were told to apologize to him.

 

sit tight: wait

Just try to sit tight until dinner is ready. Then you can eat.

 

sitting pretty: in a good position; in a good economic situation.

My husband and I are sitting pretty now that we both have jobs.

 

skip: miss; don't go to something.

It's not a good idea to skip a lot of meetings if you want to get ahead in the company you work for.

 

slang: words and expressions that are popular among native speakers of the language; language used and created by younger people.

It's hard to understand some Americans when they speak because they use so much slang.

 

sleaze: something dirty; a person whose behavior is offensive and immoral. (use as a noun)

The guy who works at that liquor store is kind of a sleaze. He's always looking at dirty magazines.

 

sleazy: something or someone dirty and immoral (use as an adjective)

Tanya doesn't like to watch sleazy movies but her boyfriend does.

 

sleeper: a person whose activities and beliefs are secret ; something that is unknown suddenly becomes known.

Raj was a sleeper agent until he was found to be carrying some important documents. The government put him in jail.

 

sleep with: have sex with.

Vietnamese women never sleep with men who aren't their husbands. They're very faithful.

 

slick: cool; stylish.

That's a pretty slick trick. How did you do that?

 

slo-mo: short for "slow motion."

After the referees watched the play slo-mo, frame by frame, they changed their call.

 

slowpoke: a person who moves, walks, or drives slowly.

The guy driving ahead of me is such a slowpoke. It looks like he's a really elderly driver.

 

slug it out: fight

Everyday Democrats and Republicans slug it out in Congress when making new laws.

 

slurp: to make noise while drinking or eating something that is wet, like soup.

In some countries it's okay to slurp your soup, but not in the United States.

 

smack: hit

Amanda got tired of getting smacked by her boyfriend, so she left him.

 

small fry: someone who doesn't have power or influence.

The police usually don't go after the small-fry drug dealers. Instead, they try to catch the big-time smugglers who bring drugs in from overseas.

 

small time: not important. (often used in reference to illegal activity, similar to small fry.)

My uncle is a small-time gambler, but last week he went to Vegas and won over a $100,000.

 

smart-ass: a person who isn't very respectful and speaks with disrespect.

If you weren't such a smart-ass, maybe you'd have more friends. (caution: some people are offended by the word "ass.")

 

smarty pants: a person who tries to be really smart; a smart person.

The smarty pants who sits in the front of the classroom wastes everyone's time by asking the teacher a lot of questions.

 

smooch: kiss.

Ed and Hilda were caught at work smooching in the copier room, and now everyone in the office knows about it.

 

snap: something easy and fast.

This recipe is a snap. It'll only take about ten minutes to make.

 

snatch: to take something quickly; to take by force.

A young teenager snatched a purse out of the hands of an elderly lady walking down the street.

 

snazzy: nice; stylish; cool; something fashionable that looks good.

That's a really snazzy tie you have on. Where did you get it?

 

snooze: sleep; nap.

I usually try to catch a snooze in the afternoon before going out to teach at night.

 

soak: 1. to put something in water for a long time; 2. to cheat someone.

1. If you soak that in soap and water for a couple of hours, the stain should come out.

2. Tyrone took his kids to a baseball game and got soaked on over-priced hot dogs and beer.

 

softy: someone who agrees easily to a request.

The teacher is too much of a softy to ever give detentions to students, so they take advantage of him and don't behave properly in class.

 

somebody: a person who is famous, rich, or powerful.

A: Who's that woman in the dark sunglasses?

B: I don't know. She must be a somebody because everyone is pointing at her and staring.

 

space out: lack concentration; to forget easily.

Today was my wife's birthday, but I totally spaced it out until she reminded me.

 

spam: unwanted email (can be used as a verb or as a noun)

There's so much spam in my in box, I can't tell which messages are good and which messages are bad.

 

stats: numbers and percentages, often used to make comparisons--short for "statistics"

Jose Fernandez is a great baseball player, but his stats don't look too good this season.

 

step off: get away; back away; don't get too close to me (often used in confrontations).

If you don't step off, I'm going to hurt you!

 

stick around: stay; don't go anywhere.

A: How long can you stick around today?

B: I can stay here until 4:00.

 

straight: okay; even.

You don't have to give me any money. We're straight.

 

street people: people who spend a lot of time walking around city streets; people who hustle or live on the street.

The street people in downtown Minneapolis are sometimes noisy and rude.

 

street smarts: an understanding of life in a big city; the ability to survive in a tough area of a city.

Tony doesn't have a lot of street smarts. That's why he always gets robbed when he goes downtown.

 

strike it rich: make a lot of money.

A group of factory workers got together to buy some lottery tickets and struck it rich when one of their tickets won the lottery.

 

stoked: to be excited about something.

This weekend is going to be great! I'm pretty stoked about it.

 

suck: to be of bad quality; to say a situation is bad.

This movie really sucks!

 

sure thing: something that is very likely to happen; a high possibility.

Now that Juan's loan application has been approved, it's almost a sure thing that he's going to get a new car.

 

sweat: worry; show concern.

Try not to sweat the small stuff; focus on things that are really important.

 

sweat it out: to worry; to work hard.

It looks like we're going to have to sweat out another downturn in the economy.

 

sweet: really good; cool. (This is a very popular word among young people.)

That's a sweet guitar.

 

sweet-talk: complimentary language.

It's amazing how a little sweet-talk increased his sales figures for the month.

 

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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