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Free Speech Lesson

Modern Slang

English Communication: Modern Slang

American slang.


Every era has a pattern: a group of people — the young, pop stars, social media influencers– create new words or phrases. It can be helpful to know this slang in order to understand what people are saying.

While understanding slang is not dangerous, be careful in using them unless you are confident you know what they mean. Mistakes can be embarrassing.

Here are some slang words you might hear:

  • YOLO (Acronym for a sentence): ‘You only live once.’ Often used as a reason for deciding to do something–perhaps enjoyable or perhaps risky. For example, ‘I probably should save the extra money I have, but I’m going to invest in a gold mine instead. YOLO!’
  • Peeps (Noun): People (especially your friends). For example, ‘What are you doing?’ ‘Oh, just hanging out with my peeps.’   In American vocabulary, we describe the chirping sound of a baby chicken to be “peep, peep.”  Thus use this if you are young .
  • Swag (Noun): This word has multiple uses, but a common meaning is ‘style: being cool in how you talk, dress, and present yourself,’ For example, ‘Look at that jewelry. She’s got swag,’
  • Fail (Noun or interjection) Used to express disapproval. For example, “My internet keeps cutting out. Comcast fail!” or “I left my phone at work. Fail!”  
  • Hater (Noun): Someone who is negative and criticizes others. For example, “Don’t be a hater. You’re just jealous.”  You can follow up with a change in topic in the conversation.
  • Meh (Interjection): Wikipedia calls this term ‘an expression of indifference or boredom.’ For example, “Do you want to go to a movie?” “Meh. I’ll go if you want to.”  
  • Whatever (Interjection): Used to express “It doesn’t matter” or “I don’t care what you say.”  For example, “I really wanted that job, and I didn’t get it. Whatever,” or A: “You need a haircut.” B: “Whatever.”

So the next time you’re browsing social media or conversing,be on the lookout for this slang.  It’s never a bad idea to increase your English vocabulary and cultural literacy… and maybe gain a little swag while you’re at it.

Be sure to watch our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos  for more English pronunciation and accent reduction exercises.

Contributing editor: Amber McKinney, MA

copyright Clear Talk Mastery 2021


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