English Language Resources
English Language Centers
437 Boylston Street, 3rd floor
245 Washington Street
Wellesley Hills, MA
Cambridge Center for Adult Education
42 Brattle Street
U.S. American Slang and Common Expressions
U.S. American Slang
- buck: dollar ($)
- chicken: coward
- cool: excellent; superb
- couch potato: a person who watches too much television
- dude: a person
- face-off: confrontation
- flick: movie
- freebie: something that does not cost money
- goof: a silly and foolish person
- hip: sensible; informed
- humungous: really big
- I.D.: identification
- jerk: stupid or annoying person
- laid back: relaxed; calm
- neat: cool; great
- okay (OK): decent
- pumped (up): excited
- screw up: to make a mistake
- totally: really; completely
- uptight: nervous; anxious
While Bostonians are known for being avid sports fans and lovers of clam chowder, perhaps the thing that we are most known for is our beloved Boston accent. But the uniqueness of the Boston dialect doesn’t stop with dropping our r’s where they are supposed to be and putting them in where they shouldn’t be; Bostonians have some idioms and colloquialisms that truly bring out the local color of the area and its residents.
Here are some terms and phrases that you might hear:
- Jimmies: chocolate sprinkles
- Fin: five dollars
- Bubbler: water fountain
- Frappe: milkshake
- Wicked: “Very”
- The T: Boston public transportation (subway/bus)
- Tonic: soft drink; soda
- Sub: submarine sandwiches, hoagies, heroes, or grinders
Bend Over Backwards: Everybody bent over backwards to help her. Everyone tried very hard to help her feel comfortable and adjust to the school.
Scratch Someone's Back: If you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. I know you don't like doing housework, but I'll help you with the boxes if you promise to return the favor.
Lemon: It sounds like her car is a real lemon. No sooner did she drive it home from the dealer's than it proved defective and started breaking down.
On the line: He was warned that his job was on the line because of his lack of concern for his duties. When he was alerted that he was in danger of losing his job, he began to take his obligations with the company more seriously.
Make ends Meet: Things are so expensive nowadays that it's very difficult to make ends meet. I have hardly enough to pay all the bills.
The early bird catches the worm: I'll get up real early to get a place at the head of the line. That way I'll get the tickets I want, for sure!
Money talks: I know full well that money has the power to influence people, but I refuse to pay extra for a service that is owed to me as a client.
Turn [someone] off: The date started out OK, but he really turned me off when we went for a snack after the movies. He disgusted me when he tried to talk with his mouth full.
Spill the beans: He was planning on surprising her with the tickets for their anniversary, but someone spilled the beans. It's too bad that someone told her about the trip beforehand and ruined Harry's surprise.
Knock someone’s socks off: You ought to see Fred's new car. It'll knock your socks off! You'll get so enthused and excited you won't know what to do.
Feel Like a Million Bucks (Dollars): He says he's feeling like a million bucks now. Apparently the pain in his knee is all gone. It's good that he's feeling so wonderful.