Languages: English
My Account

Call Toll Free in the US: 1-800-419-4601
Outside the US: 1-212-766-4111

University Language Services

American Slang Words: Mad! Sick! Horrorshow!

Trojan Warrior Statue and student at University of Southern California

Sick pose, bro!

American slang words are a kind of trippy (strange) embroidery for formal American English. They’re inventive, vulgar, absurd – the kind of words that, were they human, would wear leather and paisley.

Slang is its own industry, constantly minting and recycling new expressions. Last year’s hot words are this year’s heirlooms. Most phrases first appear online or on TV. Some – usually the more obscene – hatch on playgrounds, around kegs, on street corners. Slang is alive in a way other parts of our language rarely are.

That said, any list of American slang words is simultaneously an obituary. As soon as a word infiltrates the mainstream, it’s old news. Still, even though it may be futile, we’ve compiled a list of some of the sweetest American slang words.

Slang for the Ages

Munchies: hunger, especially a craving for junk food

Mumbo jumbo: gibberish

DL: acronym for “down low,” said of something you wish to keep secret

Sketchy: someone or something that is suspicious

Boonies: a rural area

Crash: to fall asleep

Nine-to-five: a day job; so called because most corporate schedules begin at 9 a.m. and end at 5 p.m.

Vibe: the impression imparted by a person or place, e.g.: “That diner by the airport has a sketchy vibe.”

Vent: to complain about something in order to relieve stress

24/7: something that is open or available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, i.e. never closes

Hang out: to relax with friends

Flick: a movie, e.g.: “Do you want to catch a flick at nine?”

Digits: usually refers to a phone number, as in, “What’s your digits?”

AWOL: military acronym for “absent without leave,” usually used to refer to someone who left early/disappeared, e.g. “Matt went AWOL last night after his ex-girlfriend showed up at the party.”

MIA: another military acronym, this means “missing in action;” often used in trivial contexts, e.g. “my phone is MIA in the boonies.”

Dough/Bucks: money

Why American Slang Words Are “Wicked”

Some American slang words mean the opposite of their ordinary definitions.

Something that’s “sick,” for instance, is actually awesome, cool or hip; the same applies to “wicked.” And if you have “mad” skills, you have a lot of them, not just a talent for breaking furniture.

Slang words are the carnival beads of American English: glittering, irreverent and quickly lost. Along with American social idioms, they brighten our language and render small-talk a bit more incandescent.

Simply put: speech without slang is a downer (a disappointment).

And if you were wondering: “Mad,” “sick” and “horrorshow” are terms applied to anything that you find particularly amazing.

One Response to “American Slang Words: Mad! Sick! Horrorshow!”

  1. Kimmie Says:

    We don’t normally say flick, we’ll say we going to see a movie. Unless, of course, we’re going to see a chick flick. And as far as I’m aware of, I don’t hear people use “horrorshow” for something positive, and I’ve never heard of boonies. Otherwise, it’s accurate.

Leave a Reply

Become a US Citizen

Pass your required US citizenship test with the help of our new study guide based on the official test questions.

Try it Now

Follow Us:

RSS Feed Icon Facebook Icon Twitter Icon Google+ Follow Us on Pinterest