It’s time for a pop quiz, English learners.
Which of the following phrases do you recognize?
“You are killin’ it!”
“Can I get an amen?”
These are called slang words, which are very common in spoken English.
If you have heard all these phrases before, then you have probably spent time abroad in an English speaking country.
Or maybe you spend a lot of time watching American sitcoms and studying your English slang.
If you are a non-native speaker and come across these words, you may take them all literally.
For example, when someone asks you “What’s up?” you may actually look up and tell them what you see up there.
Or if someone tells you “You’re killin’ it!” you might actually defend yourself and say that you’re not killing anything.
As you can see, when people use American slang words there can be a communication problem between you and the person you’re talking to.
However, slang words and phrases like these are very common in casual, conversational English.
That’s why it’s very important for you to learn about English slang too.
Why Learn English Slang from Hilarious BuzzFeed Articles?
The definition of slang? “Slang” means: very informal words or phrases that are used in casual speech.
There are two very easy ways to learn English slang.
One way is to read slang words over and over again.
The second way is to use them often in your daily conversations.
Since everyone loves going online to casually read the latest news, gossip or information about anything, slang words can be read frequently online.
The internet is full of slang.
One of the best online places to learn English slang is BuzzFeed.
Do you know what BuzzFeed is?
It is a site that provides hilarious and entertaining articles. The articles are quite informal and they target a modern audience. The articles often include slang words too, which means that BuzzFeed articles can be great for slang practice.
Reading BuzzFeed can be a big help in getting you familiarized with slang words, what they mean and how they’re used. After you get accustomed to seeing slang all the time, you’ll eventually be more comfortable using it when you speak and write in English.
BuzzFeed articles are not only funny, but they can be a place of learning for non-native English speakers.
It is unlike any boring English class or lesson that you will have to go through. Plus, constantly reading new articles will help expand your vocabulary and knowledge of the English-speaking world’s popular culture. With BuzzFeed, time flies by (passes quickly) because you are having tons of fun!
Reading interesting, current articles is an exciting way to learn English.
How to Become Familiar with English Slang
Apart from reading BuzzFeed articles, reading articles about English slang words will help you improve your slang comprehension (understanding). You may also want to go to YouTube and watch videos that explain slang words and phrases. Participating in online quizzes should be a big help too.
Once you are familiar with the words and can comprehend them quickly, it is time for you to do some actual practice. Whether you are talking to someone face-to-face or chatting online, try to include these slang words in your conversations. After all, practice does make perfect.
Another excellent way to listen to slang words in context is with FluentU.
Unlike traditional language learning sites, FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the English language and culture over time. You’ll learn English as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a variety of engaging content from popular talk shows, nature documentaries and funny commercials, as you can see here:
FluentU makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you'll see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It even reminds you when it’s time to review! Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.
You can start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, by downloading the app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
21 English Slang Words to Learn with Hilarious BuzzFeed Articles
To get you started in the right direction, here is a list of 21 slang words and phrases that you will often come across in BuzzFeed articles (and in life). The next time you read one, you will immediately understand what it means.
Original meaning: Cool refers to something at a low temperature. For example, “I like to keep my beer cool.”
Slang meaning: In the slang world, cool takes on a different meaning. It can mean something awesome, something that you really think is great. It may also express that you are feeling calm and all right.
For example, “that Iron-Man movie was so cool” or “don’t worry, I’m cool.”
Original meaning: Swag describes a garland (string) of flowers or foliage. For example, “the swag of flowers was beautifully made.” It can also mean stolen goods.
Slang meaning: Now swag is actually the term used to describe someone who is cool (see #1) or has a style that is sexy or cool. Common phrases you’ll read are: “that guy has swag” or “I’ve got more swag than you do.”
Original meaning: Bae came from the English words baby and babe, which are both used to express affection (love) for your boyfriend or girlfriend. Also interesting but probably not relevant, it means poop in the Danish language.
Slang meaning: Bae refers to a boyfriend, girlfriend or someone you are in a relationship with. It is used to replace terms like baby, honey, sweetie or my love. Some of the examples you will read are “Bae, I love you so much” or “I can’t wait to see you, Bae.”
Original meaning: Dude means man or guy. It is used very commonly by many Americans. It is more informal than man or guy.
Bruh comes from the word bro or brother and also means man or guy. However, it is less commonly used and is even more informal than dude.
Slang meaning: Dude is used by most Americans in casual conversation. It is also something that surfers, skaters or hippies use very frequently when talking to one another. For example, “Dude, that’s not cool, dude” or the popular movie “Dude, Where’s My Car?”
Bruh takes on the same meaning. You can say “Bruh, I like your hat” or “He’s my bruh.”
Original meaning: High means to be in a position at a great vertical distance. It sounds complicated, but is very simple. You probably already know this original meaning, honestly. An example is “the mountain is too high, I don’t think I can make it to the top.”
Slang meaning: When used informally, high refers to the positive physical feeling that people experience when they take illegal drugs. It also refers to being overjoyed (extremely happy) with something. Good examples are “I’m so high I can’t even think clearly” or “I’m on a pizza-high right now.”
Original meaning: Swole doesn’t have any original meaning. It is a shortcut for the word swollen, meaning that something has become much larger in size than normal.
Slang meaning: In slang terms, swole actually means to be extremely muscular. You can read people say “wow, that guy is swole!” or “that workout made him swole.”
Original meaning: Thirsty means that you need to drink something. This is an example: “Can I ask for a glass of water? I’m really thirsty.”
Slang meaning: Now in English slang, thirsty means a completely different thing. It means that you are desperate for something. You can say: “I’m really thirsty for that new iPhone” or “Are you thirsty for some tickets to the show?”
8. On Fleek
Original meaning: There’s no original meaning for the word fleek. It is not related to the word flake or any other similar word. It’s a mystery!
Slang meaning: On fleek is 100% English slang. And it’s a brand new slang phrase too—there are plenty of English speakers who do not know what it means yet! That means you are going to be really cool.
The phrase means to be on point, perfect or amazing. Common examples are: “Your eyebrows are on fleek, they are beautiful” or “her reaction was on fleek!”
9. Low Key
Original meaning: Low key is a phrase that doesn’t have anything to do with a key. There’s no original meaning of this phrase. It’s a common English expression all by itself.
Slang meaning: In slang terms, low key means to keep something quiet, secret or discreet. A good example is “Rihanna and Leonard DiCaprio are keeping their relationship low key.”
Original meaning: YOLO doesn’t originate from something, but it means “You Only Live Once.”
Slang meaning: YOLO is often used when someone wants to do something dangerous, ridiculous or adventurous. For example: “I’m going bungee jumping later, YOLO!”
Original meaning: There’s no word in the English dictionary like this. It is distantly related to “yes.”
Slang meaning: Yaaaaaas actually means to be excited about something or to highly agree. You can say: “My birthday is tomorrow YAAAAAAAS!” or “YAAAAAAS I’m definitely going with you to the party.”
Original meaning: Slay means to kill something. An example is “The hunter slayed the moose in the forest.”
Slang meaning: Slay takes on a different meaning in the slang world and it does’t involve killing anything. It means that you’re doing something amazing or great. Here are some examples: “Man, we slayed that dance number!” or “Lady Gaga’s ‘Edge of Glory,’ slay!”
Original meaning: Word means a group of letters that form something that expresses meaning. Everything that you are reading now are words formed into sentences.
Slang meaning: In slang, word means that you agree. Instead of saying “I agree” you say word instead.
14. I Can’t Even
Original meaning: In formal English, people say “I can’t even” at the beginning of a sentence when they are overwhelmed with something (whether good or bad). For example, “I can’t even imagine losing my phone.” But there is always a full sentence involved.
Slang meaning: I can’t even in slang means that same thing, except that people don’t say it as a complete sentence. For example, “that Katy Perry song, I can’t even,” or “McDonald’s French fries, I can’t even.”
Original meaning: As you may already know, a ship is a vehicle that travels on water. An example is “that ship is huge.”
Slang meaning: Nowadays, people use ship when they are supporting a romantic relationship between two people that are often seen on TV shows. A good example is the show “The Vampire Diaries.” Fans of Damon and Elena will say “I ship Delena.” If they like Stefan and Caroline together, these fans are called “Steroline shippers.”
Original meaning: Basic originally means a starting point or simple. Here are common examples: “That dress is pretty basic” or “the basic of tying ribbons is to learn how to do a knot.”
Slang meaning: When you use basic in slang, it means uninteresting or not amazing. An example is “Starbucks mocha frappucino, basic!”
Original meaning: Dead means lifeless or to have no more life. “Our dog is dead” or “My grandma is dead” are a couple of examples.
Slang meaning: Dead or Died means something is just too overwhelming for you. Here are some examples: “I just saw Brad Pitt’s new photo, I died” or “Taco Bell’s quesadillas…I’m dead.”
18. Turn Up
Original meaning: Turn up in formal English can simply mean turning up something like the sound volume, making it higher or louder. You may say “hey, can you turn up the volume a bit? I can’t hear the song.”
Slang meaning: In slang, turn up means to make an appearance. You can say “she turned up at the party even though she was not invited.”
19. Can I Get an Amen?
Original meaning: Can I get an amen? doesn’t mean that you are really asking for a spiritual amen from the person you are talking to. This phrase is not used in formal conversations.
Slang meaning: Can I get an amen? means that you are asking people to relate to what you’re saying or get them to agree with you. These are some examples: “what Kanye West did at the Grammy Awards was disrespectful to Beck, can I get an amen?” or “waiting in line for hours just to get a drink is crazy, can I get an amen?”
Original meaning: Mad means angry. An example is “I’m still mad at you for leaving me.”
Slang meaning: Mad can mean a lot, tons or something extreme. Here are some good examples: “that kid has mad dancing skills” or “it is one mad cold day, today.”
21. Killin’ It/Killed It
Original meaning: Just like the word slay, the phrase killin’ it doesn’t mean that you’re actually killing something. There’s no way to use this phrase formally unless you really mean that you are killing something like “that cockroach is gross, I’m killing it!”
Slang meaning: In slang usage, killin’ it means doing something great, good or awesome. Here’s a couple of examples: “I was killin’ it tonight at our basketball game” or “mom really killed it tonight when she cooked her macaroni and cheese specialty.”
The long list may feel like a bit of a challenge at first, but reading and practicing them daily is a must. Later on, you’ll find yourself feeling comfortable using these words and phrases in your informal conversations.
You can even mix and match as needed. For example, “I know I got mad singing skills, I’m totally killin’ it tonight at the concert. Can I get an amen?”
Practicing English slang will not just help you understand modern informal words, but this will improve your overall English comprehension as well as widen your vocabulary. Be patient with your learning and you’ll be an awesome English speaker sooner than you think.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.