common American slang words

10 American Slang Words To Sound Like A Local

American slang words can be tricky to get the hang of. Sure, it’s technically English, but it can sound like a different language. Arriving to the USA without a grasp of the lingo can be confusing, especially if English isn’t your native language.

American slang is so much more than just an accent.  While different cities and regions have different slang, there’s a general American slang that’s spoken all across the country. This is the lingo that’s not taught in your language class. If someone asks you whether you think their new ‘wheels’ are ‘sick’, do you know what to say?

Here’s a list of 10 commonly used slang words in America. You’ll be speaking like a local in no time.

10 Common American Slang Words

1. Tea = gossip

Spilling the tea is all about getting that gossip. You can get the tea, spill the tea or give the tea. Otherwise simply written as the ‘T’.

2. Sweet = something good

“I passed my driving test!” “Sweet!!”

3. Shoot the breeze = casual conversation

“We were just shooting the breeze.”

American slang words

4. Slaps = amazing

“Man, this song slaps!”

common American slang words

5. Wheels = car

“Want to check out my new wheels?”

common American slang words

6. Sick = amazing

“It’s a pity you weren’t there last night, the party was sick.”

American slang words

7. Zonked = exhausted

“I’m totally zonked from working all week.”

8. Shady = suspicious/disrespectful

Shady has two meanings in American slang. Someone who looks shady is someone who looks suspicious. Or, you can ‘throw shade’ or ‘be shady’. Either one is not something you want: it’s subtly being disrespectful to someone.

9. Bae = boyfriend/girlfriend

Bae is what these young folk call their boyfriend/girlfriend. The origins of bae aren’t clear, with some saying it’s an acronym for “before anyone else”.

10. Pig out = eat a lot

“I really pigged out at brunch this morning.”

American slang words


  • Check out some of the most common slang in Boston here
  • Or slang words in New York here
  • And here’s the top slang to know in Texas…
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Sarah Clayton-Lea
Sarah Clayton-Lea

Co-founder of Big 7 Travel, Sarah created the company through her passion for championing the world's best food and travel experiences. Before her career in digital media, where she previously held roles such as Editor of Food&Wine Ireland, Sarah worked in the hospitality industry in Dublin and New York.

Contact [email protected]

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