American Culture

American slang words you totes need to know


OMG, you’re coming to the USA! Study up on this list of common informal words so you can avoid epic fails when it comes to American slang. For real.


All the _________ (phrase)

An exaggeration to show strong feelings, usually in a positive way.

Example: “Do you like puppies?” “I love all the puppies!”


Basic (adjective)

An insult that means something or someone is boring, unsophisticated, stupid or uncool. Not to be confused with the “regular” definition of basic: simple or fundamental.

Example: “Let’s get out of here, this party is basic.”


Cray/Cray Cray (adjective)

Shortened version of crazy – something wild or out of control.

Example: “The new Beyonce album is cray.”


Ditch (verb)

To leave a place or person unexpectedly, or to not show up to prior plans.

Example: “I had to ditch study group because my dad called.”


Epic (adjective)

Especially awesome, big, strong or incredible.

Example: “Did you see that cool car? So epic.”


For real (phrase)

A way to agree with someone, emphasize a statement or ask if someone is serious.

Example: “This is my favorite class so far!” “For real.”


Greek life (noun)

Fraternities or sororities, which are social organizations for male or female students. Each fraternity or sorority has a name made of Greek letters, such as alpha or beta.

Example: “I heard the Greek life on campus is supposed to be pretty fun.”


Hit the booksHit the books (verb)

To study. Can also mean to do homework (assignments meant to be done outside of class).

Example: “The big test is coming up. Time to hit the books.”


I can’t even ________ (phrase)

Expression of being overwhelmed with something, usually in a somewhat joking and positive manner. Short for “I can’t even handle…” or “I can’t even deal…”.

Example: “I can’t even with these French fries. So good!”


Jerk (adjective)

An insult for someone who is mean, selfish or inconsiderate.

Example: “That jerk just ate all of my French fries. How rude.”


K or KK (abbreviation)

Abbreviated way to say “okay.” A way to agree with something someone says or to confirm what someone asks, without showing too much excitement.

Example: “Want to go to the mall later?” “K.”


Legit (adjective)

Something that’s good or worthwhile. Short for legitimate (meaning authentic or real).

Example: “Did you see this season of Game of Thrones? Pretty legit.”


Mix-up (noun)

A mistake or misunderstanding that causes confusion.

Example: “There was a mix-up and I accidentally did the wrong assignment for today’s class.”


No sweat (phrase)

A way to say that something is easy or not a problem, such as when someone asks for your help with something.

Example: “Can you help me with my English paper?” “Sure, no sweat.”


OMG (exclamation)

Abbreviation for “Oh my god.” Often used to express surprise, excitement or disgust.

Example: “OMG, I got an A on my English paper!”


Party foul (noun)

When something goes wrong at a party, such as spilling a drink.

Example: “Then he knocked over the entire bowl of chips. Total party foul.”


Quad (noun)

A square space surrounded by buildings, often on a college campus.

Example: “Meet me after class on the quad so we can play soccer.”


Root for (verb)

To cheer for or support something or someone, such as a sports team.

Example: “I can’t go to the football game this Saturday but I’ll be rooting for them anyway.”


Selfie (noun)

A picture you take of yourself, either alone or with other people.

Example: “Did you see the cute selfie Mary posted to Facebook?”


Totes (abbreviation)

Short for “totally” and often used to agree with someone. Not to be confused with the verb “tote,” which means to carry.

Example: “I should finish my reading assignment before we play video games.” “Totes.”


Uncle Sam (noun)

A way to refer to the United States government.

Example: “It’s really cool that Uncle Sam gave you a student visa so you could study here.”


Vanilla (adjective)

Used to describe something that is ordinary, boring or uninspiring. Based on vanilla ice cream being seen as a very normal flavor.

Example: “Last week’s class lecture was really exciting, bit this one was a little vanilla for me.”


What’s up? (greeting)

A way to say hello or ask someone what they’re doing.

Example: “Hey, what’s up?” “Not much, just got out of math class.”


yoloYOLO (abbreviation)

A not very serious motivational phrase short for you only live once. Pronounced “yo-low.”

Example: “I didn’t think Joe would eat that whole pizza by himself. YOLO.”


Zone out (verb)

To get distracted and lose track of what’s happening around you.

Example: “I zoned out watching television because I kept texting you instead.”


So now you’re well on your way to talking like an American. Well, as long as you didn’t zone out reading the list. And the next time you’re confused about some slang, check out Urban Dictionary. It’s pretty legit. You’ll be ready for school at University of Kansas any day now!


Interested in trying out your new vocabulary at KU?


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