American Slang Explained

American slang | Terms and Definitions


English is the most commonly spoken language in the world. As such, it has developed quite a few variations and nuances over time. For those just beginning to learn the language, it can be frustrating to understand the basics. Learners often become tripped up by the significant amount of slang heard in natural conversations. Ultimately, slang is an integral part of the American English language as the American culture tends to be more casual and relaxed across the board.

American English ESL Lesson Plan

What Makes American Slang Unique?

Most Americans use slang every day, often without even realizing they are doing so. People often use slang terms without even knowing their true meaning. Something as simple as the phrase “What’s up?” has the power to completely stump a non-native speaker, even though it’s a frequently used term for native speakers. Another unique element to American slang is that it varies based on your region. Something as simple as soda is referred to differently across the country. In the South, soda is called “pop,” while in the North East, it’s called “bubbler.” Because different areas of the United States act as their own micro-cultures, there are plenty more slang variations in existence.

Variation Across Age Groups

Over the years, American slang has morphed and changed with the times. Depending on the age of the person you’re speaking to, you are likely to hear drastically different versions of slang. For example, an American teenager may use new slang like “drip,” which refers to fashion, or “simp,” which refers to being infatuated with another person. If you were to use these terms in conversation with someone over the age of forty, they would likely have no clue what you’re saying. As a result, this adds an extra challenge to the already complicated slang system in the United States.

Most Common Slang Words and Phrases

Realistically, the American English language contains more slang than we could feasibly include in this article. For this reason, we’ve gone ahead and selected the ten most pertinent words or phrases that exist within this language.

         Slang Word of Phrase



A guy


An attractive person


To study hard


Great or nice


Mildly, moderately


Something that tastes good


Well-built or muscular

Once in a blue moon

Occasionally, not often

No biggie

Not a big deal, no problem

Tie the knot

Get married


The American language contains a wide array of slang terms and phrases that take practice and repetition to understand thoroughly. Because it is such a causal language, you’ll notice these terms popping up quite frequently in conversations. For those working towards fluency, remember to be patient with yourself as you navigate learning these nuanced terms. Over time, slang becomes more easily integrated into your language toolbox, and you can organically sprinkle these words or phrases in whenever you see fit.


Date: October 3rd, 2022

Rob - author of the article   Rob

Other materials you may be interested in