As if the English language wasn’t hard enough already, with its contractions, pronunciation rules and complicated grammatical structure – now you’ve got to pick up English slang, too? Unfortunately, if you want to sound like a native English speaker, you’re going to need to dedicate some time to mastering the more advanced forms of expression, including slang words and phrases. Read on for a brief overview of some of the most commonly used slang expressions and their meanings:

At the end of your rope – Frustrated, running out of patience
Back to the drawing board – Starting over, investigating new ideas
Barking up the wrong tree – Misinformed, misunderstood
Basket case – Overly excited, hysterical
Blow off steam – Release tension, relax
Couch potato – Lazy, lethargic
Cut and dry – Clear, obvious
D’oh – An expression of frustration, as popularized by the television show “The Simpsons”

Downer – Something depressing that makes one sad
Dressed to the nines – Well dressed, stylishly attired
Early bird – From the proverb, “the early bird gets the worm”, referring to a prompt, timely person
Egghead – A smart person, someone with above-average intelligence
Gibberish – Nonsensical expressions
Go off the deep end – To go crazy, to lose control
Gumshoe – A detective or private investigator
Have a screw loose – To act crazy or in an abnormal fashion
Hit the road – A request to leave, a dismissal
Hole in the wall – A neighborhood establishment, a small, simple place that isn’t widely known
In the slammer – In jail, incarcerated
Jump ship – To leave a particular situation in search of a more favorable alternative
Knocked up – Pregnant
Knuckle sandwich – A punch
Love handles – The flabby areas around the hips and thighs
Mosey along – To move slowly away, walking casually
Not my cup of tea – Something you don’t approve of, or don’t take part in
On cloud nine – Happy, ecstatic

Pack heat – To carry a concealed weapon
Pig out – To consume more food than necessary, to stuff yourself with food
Psyched – Excited, eager
Pump iron – To lift weights, to exerciseRide shotgun – To ride in the front passenger seat of a vehicle
Rookie – Someone who’s new at something, a beginner
Shoot hoops – To play basketball
Snail mail – Traditional postal mail
Tightie-whities – Men’s underwear briefs
Wishy washy – Indecisive, frequently flip-flopping between ideas
Wrong side of the tracks – Someone raised in a less privileged atmosphere, living in poor conditions
Yap – Your mouth
Yuppie – From the phrase “Young Urban Professionals”, typically denotes young people that make a lot of money and spend it on extravagant luxury items

Now, don’t just go out there and start throwing these words around randomly. Listen for slang phrases in native English speakers’ conversations and try to get a feel for how they’re used naturally. Practice using these phrases at home in a few sentences before you try them out in public so that you’re more familiar with how the words and phrases feel on the tongue. If you happen to come across an expression you aren’t familiar with, ask a friend or consult an internet resource. Before you know it, you’ll be comfortable enough with these phrases to start throwing them around in regular conversations.


Categories: Learn English

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