New York sayings & Slang Glossary

Welcome to our comprehensive New York slang, sayings and phrase glossary! ūüöčūüŹėūüíą

New York isn’t just about skyscrapers and Broadway; it’s alive with a unique array of slang that can stump even the most streetwise individuals. Here, we’ve assembled the most iconic New York slang terms, each explained with their meanings, origins, and illustrative examples. Whether you’re a lifelong New Yorker or just passing through, this guide will introduce you to the linguistic heartbeat of the Big Apple. Dive in and converse with the authenticity of a genuine New Yorker! Without holding back, here’s our comprehensive list of New York slang, sayings, and phrases:

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Trouble finding a certain phrase? Click control + F on your keyboard, and type in the term you’re trying to find. Still not able to find it? Let us know down in the comments below!



  • Meaning: Refers to the A subway line in New York City.
  • Origin: Named after the actual subway line that runs from upper Manhattan through Brooklyn to Far Rockaway in Queens.
  • Usage: “I’m taking the A-train to get to Brooklyn.”


  • Meaning: A nickname for New York City, often termed “The Big Apple.”
  • Origin: The term was popularized in the 1920s by sports writer John J. Fitz Gerald. It’s believed to have derived from references to New York City’s horse races as the major leagues or “the big apple”.
  • Usage: “I’m visiting the Apple next weekend.”


  • Meaning: A friend or buddy.
  • Origin: Has been used in English to mean a single unit since the 1300s. By the 1800s, “ace” began to signify someone top-notch or number one, translating to a close friend.
  • Usage: “Hey ace, how’ve you been?”

All that and a bag of chips

  • Meaning: Something better than great or someone overly self-confident.
  • Origin: Became popular in the 1990s, implying something isn’t just great, but comes with a bonus (the “bag of chips”).
  • Usage: “She thinks she’s all that and a bag of chips.”


  • Meaning: Anxiety, agitation, or an upset stomach.
  • Origin: From Italian “agitare,” meaning “to agitate.”
  • Usage: “This traffic jam is giving me agita.”

Around the way

  • Meaning: From the nearby area or neighborhood.
  • Origin: Urban lingo, denoting someone or something from one’s home turf.
  • Usage: “I know him, he’s from around the way.”

Alphabet City

  • Meaning: Refers to the avenues in the East Village of Manhattan which are named from A to D.
  • Origin: Named after the avenues A, B, C, and D, the only lettered avenues in Manhattan.
  • Usage: “She moved to Alphabet City last year.”


  • Meaning: A significant train service providing transportation between US cities.
  • Origin: Short for “American Track.” Established in 1971.
  • Usage: “I’m catching the Amtrak to D.C. tomorrow.”


  • Meaning: The overhead structure often found outside buildings or shops to shelter people from rain or sun.
  • Origin: Derived from the actual structure found widely across the city.
  • Usage: “Let’s stand under the awning until the rain stops.”


  • Meaning: Short for “American Express,” a credit card company.
  • Origin: Abbreviation of the company’s name.
  • Usage: “Do you accept AX?”


  • Meaning: Automated Teller Machine, where you can withdraw or deposit money.
  • Origin: Acronym for the machine’s official name.
  • Usage: “I need to find an ATM before we head to the restaurant.”

Alternative Side

  • Meaning: Refers to the parking regulations in New York City which require vehicles to be moved from street sides at specific times for street cleaning.
  • Origin: Derives from the city’s street cleaning regulations.
  • Usage: “I have to move my car because of alternative side parking tomorrow.”


  • Meaning: Another term for pizza, often pronounced “ah-beetz.”
  • Origin: The term has its roots in the Neapolitan dialect of Italian.
  • Usage: “Let’s grab an apizza from that place downtown.”

Art Deco

  • Meaning: A style of visual arts, architecture, and design that became popular in the 1920s and 1930s; many NYC buildings, like the Chrysler Building, are designed in this style.
  • Origin: Short for “Arts D√©coratifs” from the Exposition Internationale des Arts D√©coratifs et Industriels Modernes held in Paris in 1925.
  • Usage: “The Empire State Building is a prime example of Art Deco architecture.”

Assed Out

  • Meaning: Being out of luck or missing out on something.
  • Origin: Urban slang, exact origins are hard to pin down.
  • Usage: “I waited too long to buy tickets and now I’m assed out.”

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  • Meaning: A small grocery store, often found on street corners in New York City.
  • Origin: The term “bodega” is Spanish for “cellar” or “warehouse”. In NYC, it has come to mean a local convenience store.
  • Usage: “I’m running to the bodega to grab some milk.”

The Bronx

  • Meaning: One of the five boroughs of New York City.
  • Origin: Named after Jonas Bronck, an early settler from Denmark in the 1600s.
  • Usage: “She’s from The Bronx; she grew up near Yankee Stadium.”

The Boogie Down

  • Meaning: Another name for The Bronx.
  • Origin: Derived from the term “Boogaloo”, a style of Latin music and dance from the 1960s. Became popularized as a reference to The Bronx’s vibrant music scene.
  • Usage: “Heading up to the Boogie Down this weekend.”


  • Meaning: Extremely cold weather.
  • Origin: Slang likely derived from the idea that being hit with a brick feels cold/shocking.
  • Usage: “Wear your thick jacket, it’s brick outside.”

Bridge and Tunnel or B&T

  • Meaning: A somewhat derogatory term referring to people who come to Manhattan from other boroughs or New Jersey for leisure activities.
  • Origin: Refers to the bridges and tunnels these people use to get into Manhattan.
  • Usage: “The bar was packed with the bridge and tunnel crowd last night.”

Brooklyn Bridge

  • Meaning: A famous bridge connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn.
  • Origin: Named after the borough it connects to Manhattan.
  • Usage: “Let’s walk the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset.”


  • Meaning: A popular bread product in NYC, often eaten with cream cheese.
  • Origin: The bagel is of Jewish origin and became a staple in NYC due to its significant Jewish population.
  • Usage: “Grab a bagel from the deli on your way here.”


  • Meaning: Any of the five major administrative divisions in New York City: Brooklyn, The Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island.
  • Origin: From the Old English “burh”, meaning “fortified town”.
  • Usage: “Which borough do you live in?”


  • Meaning: Short for Brooklyn.
  • Origin: Simply an abbreviation of the borough’s name.
  • Usage: “I’m heading to BK for a concert.”


  • Meaning: A major road in NYC known worldwide for its theaters and musical productions.
  • Origin: From the Dutch word “brede weg” meaning “broad way”.
  • Usage: “We got tickets for a show on Broadway.”

The Big City

  • Meaning: Another name for New York City.
  • Origin: Refers to the vastness and bustling nature of NYC.
  • Usage: “He moved to the Big City to chase his dreams.”


  • Meaning: Someone who has made it big, usually in sports or business, and lives a lavish lifestyle.
  • Origin: Derived from basketball players who earn significant salaries.
  • Usage: “With that new promotion, he’s a total baller now.”


  • Meaning: A failure or flop.
  • Origin: Likely derived from “busted”, meaning broken.
  • Usage: “That movie was a total bust.”


  • Meaning: Slang for a BMW car.
  • Origin: Derived from the abbreviation of Bayerische Motoren Werke, the company that manufactures BMW.
  • Usage: “He drove up in a shiny new Beemer.”

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  • Meaning: A taxi driver.
  • Origin: Shortened version of the term “cab driver.”
  • Usage: “The cabbie gave me a tour of the city while driving me to the hotel.”

The City

  • Meaning: Refers to Manhattan.
  • Origin: Manhattan, being the oldest and the historical core of the Big Apple, is often referred to as “The City” by New Yorkers from other boroughs.
  • Usage: “I work in The City but live in Queens.”

Coney Island

  • Meaning: A residential Brooklyn neighborhood that is well-known for its amusement parks and boardwalk.
  • Origin: Originally named Conyne Eylandt (Rabbit Island) by the Dutch.
  • Usage: “We spent the day at Coney Island riding roller coasters.”

Chopped Cheese

  • Meaning: A type of sandwich made from ground beef, onions, and melted cheese.
  • Origin: Originated in Harlem and has become a staple in many NYC delis.
  • Usage: “I’ll take a chopped cheese on a roll, please.”

Central Park

  • Meaning: A large park in the middle of Manhattan.
  • Origin: Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, it opened in 1858.
  • Usage: “Let’s have a picnic in Central Park.”


  • Meaning: An essential part or feature of something.
  • Origin: Refers to the principal stone placed at the corner of a building.
  • Usage: “Jazz is the cornerstone of New York’s musical history.”

Cop a Squat

  • Meaning: To sit down.
  • Origin: “Cop” is slang for “get” or “take”, while “squat” is to sit.
  • Usage: “Cop a squat over there while I get our drinks.”


  • Meaning: Something that goes from one side of the city to the other, usually referring to buses or traffic.
  • Origin: Referring to traveling across the width of Manhattan.
  • Usage: “Take the cross-town bus to get to the museum.”


  • Meaning: A neighborhood on the West Side of Manhattan.
  • Origin: Named after the Federal-style house of the Moore family, called the “Chelsea estate”.
  • Usage: “She has a beautiful loft in Chelsea.”


  • Meaning: A term sometimes used to describe young, often homeless, individuals with a particular unkempt style, sometimes associated with punk or “gutter punk” subcultures.
  • Origin: Refers to the “crusty” or dirty appearance.
  • Usage: “I saw a group of crusties hanging out in the park.”


  • Meaning: Fast or quickly.
  • Origin: Likely comes from the rapid pace of a film clip.
  • Usage: “We need to move at a good clip to get there on time.”

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  • Meaning: Seriously; for real.
  • Origin: Originated in the NYC hip-hop scene.
  • Usage: “I’m deadass hungry right now.”

D Train

  • Meaning: A train service in the New York City Subway system.
  • Origin: Part of the NYC subway’s naming/numbering system.
  • Usage: “I take the D train to get to the Bronx.”

Dollar Slice

  • Meaning: A slice of pizza that costs one dollar.
  • Origin: Many pizzerias in NYC offer affordable pizza slices for a dollar, especially in Manhattan.
  • Usage: “I only have a few bucks on me, so let’s grab a dollar slice.”


  • Meaning: Refers to the southern parts of New York, including New York City.
  • Origin: Geographic term in contrast to upstate New York.
  • Usage: “She’s from downstate, near Brooklyn.”


  • Meaning: Refers to the southern portion of Manhattan or the central or main part of a city.
  • Origin: Common urban term indicating direction relative to the city center.
  • Usage: “We’re meeting downtown near the Financial District.”

Drop a Dime

  • Meaning: To inform or snitch on someone.
  • Origin: Refers to the cost of a phone call being a dime, especially for payphones.
  • Usage: “Someone dropped a dime on him, and now he’s in trouble.”

Do the Bridge

  • Meaning: To travel over one of the city’s bridges, often the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • Origin: NYC is known for its iconic bridges.
  • Usage: “It’s a nice day; let’s do the bridge by foot.”

Dyker Lights

  • Meaning: Refers to the elaborate Christmas light displays in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.
  • Origin: Started in the 1980s, Dyker Heights residents began putting up large, extravagant holiday light displays.
  • Usage: “Every December we visit the Dyker Lights to get into the holiday spirit.”


  • Meaning: A neighborhood in Brooklyn located between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges.
  • Origin: Acronym for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.”
  • Usage: “Dumbo has some of the best views of the Manhattan skyline.”


  • Meaning: Temporarily parking a car next to a row of parked cars, often while waiting for someone.
  • Origin: Literal description of the action, a common sight in busy parts of NYC.
  • Usage: “I’ll be right out, I’m just double-parked.”

Down by Law

  • Meaning: To be authentic or credible.
  • Origin: Hip-hop and street culture.
  • Usage: “He’s been around for years, he’s down by law.”


  • Meaning: Refers to Driggs Avenue, a primary street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
  • Origin: Named after 19th-century politician Edmund Driggs.
  • Usage: “I have a friend who lives off of Driggs; it’s a lively area.”


  • Meaning: Going Dutch means splitting the bill equally among participants.
  • Origin: Thought to be a reference to Dutch frugality.
  • Usage: “Let’s go Dutch on this meal since we all shared.”


  • Meaning: A form of handshake, usually more intricate than the traditional one.
  • Origin: African American communities in the 1970s.
  • Usage: “He greeted me with a dap I had never seen before.”


  • Meaning: Fists.
  • Origin: Possibly from the rhyming slang “Duke of Yorks” for forks, which then became hands or fists.
  • Usage: “Put up your dukes and fight fair.”


  • Meaning: A term of endearment or address, similar to “dude” or “man.”
  • Origin: Popularized in NYC hip-hop, especially by rapper Nas.
  • Usage: “What’s good, dun?”

Down to Ride

  • Meaning: Willing to help or support, especially in challenging situations.
  • Origin: Comes from the idea of being ready to join a ride or mission, no matter where it goes.
  • Usage: “I know you’re in a tight spot, but I’m down to ride.”

Deli Coffee

  • Meaning: The simple, usually cheap coffee you buy at local delis.
  • Origin: A staple in NYC due to the prevalence of delis.
  • Usage: “I don’t need fancy coffee; deli coffee is perfect for me.”


  • Meaning: Refers to Times Square, as in “the deuce.”
  • Origin: From “42nd” as in 42nd Street, one of the main streets in Times Square.
  • Usage: “I’m meeting a friend in the deuce later tonight.”


  • Meaning: A person who’s respected or is a leader in their field.
  • Origin: From Spanish ‘don’ which means ‘sir’ or ‘Mr.’, used as a title of respect.
  • Usage: “Jay-Z is a don in the hip-hop world.”

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Empire State

  • Meaning: A nickname for New York, but most often refers to the Empire State Building.
  • Origin: New York’s official nickname is “The Empire State”, due to its wealth and resources.
  • Usage: “Have you ever been to the top of the Empire State?”

East Side

  • Meaning: Refers to the eastern side of Manhattan, separated by Central Park.
  • Origin: Geographic location.
  • Usage: “She has a chic apartment on the East Side.”

Elevator Music

  • Meaning: Background music that’s perceived to be unobtrusive or mundane.
  • Origin: Such music was often played in elevators, especially in NYC’s tall buildings.
  • Usage: “This song is so boring, sounds like elevator music to me.”


  • Meaning: Short for “elevated train.”
  • Origin: Used to describe subway lines that run above ground.
  • Usage: “Take the el if you want a scenic route.”


  • Meaning: Kicked out, often used in the context of housing.
  • Origin: Legal term for when a tenant is removed from a property.
  • Usage: “Man, if I don’t pay rent soon, I’ll get evicted.”

Everything Bagel

  • Meaning: A bagel variety topped with a mixture of several toppings like sesame seeds, poppy seeds, garlic, etc.
  • Origin: Popularized in NYC’s numerous bagel shops.
  • Usage: “I’ll have an everything bagel with cream cheese.”


  • Meaning: An electronic toll payment system used on most tolled roads, bridges, and tunnels.
  • Origin: Introduced in 1987 in New York City to ease congestion by allowing for electronic toll collection.
  • Usage: “I don’t wait in toll lines; I’ve got an E-ZPass.”

East River

  • Meaning: The saltwater tidal strait in New York City.
  • Origin: Geographic location separating Brooklyn and Manhattan.
  • Usage: “There’s a great view of the East River from this cafe.”


  • Meaning: A direct subway train that doesn’t stop at all stations.
  • Origin: NYC subway system terminology.
  • Usage: “If you’re in a hurry, take the express train.”


  • Meaning: Abbreviation for East New York, a residential neighborhood in Brooklyn.
  • Origin: Named for its location in the eastern part of Brooklyn.
  • Usage: “He grew up in Eny but moved to Queens later.”

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Five Boroughs

  • Meaning: The five main areas that make up New York City: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island.
  • Origin: Administrative divisions of NYC.
  • Usage: “I want to visit all five boroughs during my trip.”


  • Meaning: A neighborhood in the central part of Brooklyn.
  • Origin: Originally Dutch, from vlacke bos, meaning “flat forest” or “wooded plain.”
  • Usage: “My aunt lives in Flatbush, close to the park.”


  • Meaning: Short for the Financial District in Manhattan.
  • Origin: Abbreviation of the neighborhood’s primary industry.
  • Usage: “Many banking professionals have offices in FiDi.”

Forget about it (often pronounced “fuhgeddaboudit”)

  • Meaning: “It’s not a big deal,” “you’re welcome,” or “no way.”
  • Origin: Part of the NYC vernacular, especially associated with Brooklyn and Italian-American dialect.
  • Usage: “You did that for me? Thanks!” “Forget about it!”


  • Meaning: Refers to Fulton Street, which runs from Lower Manhattan to East New York.
  • Origin: Named after Robert Fulton, an engineer who introduced steam-powered ferry service between Brooklyn and Manhattan.
  • Usage: “Meet me at Fulton; we’ll grab a coffee.”

Food Cart

  • Meaning: Mobile kitchen that sells street food, like hot dogs, pretzels, and more.
  • Origin: A staple of NYC culture providing quick and affordable food options.
  • Usage: “The best gyros come from that food cart on the corner.”

F train

  • Meaning: One of the subway lines serving NYC.
  • Origin: Part of the NYC subway system operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).
  • Usage: “You can take the F train to reach Coney Island.”

Flash Mob

  • Meaning: A large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual act for a brief time, then disperse.
  • Origin: The term and the trend became popular in the 2000s and NYC saw many of these performances.
  • Usage: “Did you see that flash mob in Times Square? It was epic!”

Fashion Week

  • Meaning: An industry event where designers display their latest collections in runway shows.
  • Origin: NYC is one of the major cities worldwide that hosts a Fashion Week, showcasing both established and emerging designers.
  • Usage: “Traffic is crazy during Fashion Week; so many events happening.”


  • Meaning: Acronym for the Fire Department of New York.
  • Origin: Official designation for the city’s fire department, established in 1865.
  • Usage: “There was a small fire in the building, but the FDNY handled it quickly.”

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G-Manhattan Bridge

  • Meaning: Refers to the G subway line which connects Queens to Brooklyn.
  • Origin: Part of the NYC subway system operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).
  • Usage: “I usually take the G when I’m heading to Greenpoint.”


  • Meaning: A nickname for New York City.
  • Origin: Originally a term coined by Washington Irving in 1807 in his satirical periodical, Salmagundi.
  • Usage: “Gotham has always been my home.”

Garment District

  • Meaning: An area in Manhattan known for its dense concentration of fashion-related businesses.
  • Origin: Derived from the concentration of garment manufacturers and showrooms in the area.
  • Usage: “You’ll find many fashion wholesalers in the Garment District.”


  • Meaning: A neighborhood in the northernmost part of Brooklyn.
  • Origin: Named for its green peninsular location jutting into the East River.
  • Usage: “There are so many great Polish restaurants in Greenpoint.”

Ground Zero

  • Meaning: The site where the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center stood before the 9/11 attacks.
  • Origin: Initially, the term was used to describe the point on the Earth’s surface directly beneath an exploding bomb, but after 9/11, it became associated with the WTC site.
  • Usage: “The 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero is a poignant reminder of that tragic day.”


  • Meaning: A shift in an urban community toward wealthier residents and businesses, leading to an increase in property values.
  • Origin: A socio-economic shift observed in many NYC neighborhoods over time.
  • Usage: “Brooklyn has undergone massive gentrification over the past two decades.”

Grid Plan

  • Meaning: The layout of New York City streets, especially in Manhattan, based on a grid of horizontal and vertical roads.
  • Origin: Adopted in the Commissioner’s Plan of 1811.
  • Usage: “Thanks to the grid plan, it’s really hard to get lost in Manhattan.”


  • Meaning: Slang for food.
  • Origin: General English slang that is widely used in NYC as well.
  • Usage: “After the game, let’s grab some grub at that deli.”

Grand Central

  • Meaning: Refers to Grand Central Terminal, a major train station in Manhattan.
  • Origin: Named for the central location and grand architecture of the terminal.
  • Usage: “I’m catching a train from Grand Central to Connecticut.”


  • Meaning: A bully or thug.
  • Origin: Possibly derived from “gony,” an old English word for a simpleton, but its modern usage leans towards describing a tough or rough person.
  • Usage: “He hired some goon to collect the debt.”

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  • Meaning: A large neighborhood in the northern section of New York City borough of Manhattan.
  • Origin: Named after the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands by Dutch settlers.
  • Usage: “Harlem is known for its rich cultural history, especially during the Harlem Renaissance.”

Hot dog

  • Meaning: A cooked sausage served in a sliced roll.
  • Origin: While hot dogs are enjoyed nationwide, they have a special place in NYC culture with street vendors and iconic eateries.
  • Usage: “When in NYC, you have to try a street hot dog.”


  • Meaning: Someone who follows the latest trends and fashions, especially those regarded as being outside the cultural mainstream.
  • Origin: Originally a term from the 1940s, its modern connotation began in the 2000s and is associated with areas in Brooklyn like Williamsburg.
  • Usage: “Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood is often associated with hipster culture.”

Hell’s Kitchen

  • Meaning: A neighborhood in Manhattan, located between 34th Street and 59th Street from Eighth Avenue to the Hudson River.
  • Origin: The origin of the name is disputed, but it’s been known as Hell’s Kitchen since the 1880s.
  • Usage: “There are some great off-Broadway theaters in Hell’s Kitchen.”

High Line

  • Meaning: An elevated linear park in NYC created on a former New York Central Railroad spur.
  • Origin: The High Line was repurposed as a park in 2009, turning a disused rail line into an urban oasis.
  • Usage: “Let’s take a stroll on the High Line, the views of the city are amazing there.”


  • Meaning: Busy movement and activity; to obtain by forceful action or persuasion.
  • Origin: General slang term popularized in urban settings, NYC’s fast pace makes it a fitting term.
  • Usage: “You’ve got to hustle if you want to make it in this city.”


  • Meaning: Truancy, especially from school; to skip school or work without permission.
  • Origin: An Americanism from the late 19th century, common in many parts of the US but especially relevant in the context of NYC’s school system.
  • Usage: “He’s playing hooky today, haven’t seen him all day.”


  • Meaning: Referring to the Hudson River, which flows through Eastern New York.
  • Origin: Named after Henry Hudson, an English sea explorer and navigator.
  • Usage: “The view of the Hudson is spectacular from this bridge.”

Heights (as in Washington Heights)

  • Meaning: A neighborhood in the northern portion of Manhattan.
  • Origin: Named for Fort Washington, a fortification during the American Revolutionary War.
  • Usage: “She lives up in the Heights; loves the culture and community there.”


  • Meaning: Intense excitement or promotion about something.
  • Origin: Derived from hyperbole, indicating exaggerated claims.
  • Usage: “There’s a lot of hype around that new Broadway show.”

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In a New York minute

  • Meaning: Very quickly; in a brief moment.
  • Origin: This phrase emphasizes the fast-paced nature of life in New York City.
  • Usage: “I’d accept that job offer in a New York minute!”

Iron Horse

  • Meaning: A term for the subway or trains in NYC.
  • Origin: The term originally referred to steam trains, but in NYC it became associated with the subway.
  • Usage: “I’m taking the iron horse downtown.”


  • Meaning: Refers to the New York Islanders, a professional ice hockey team based in the New York metropolitan area.
  • Origin: Named for Long Island, where they originally played.
  • Usage: “Are you going to the Islanders game tonight?”

Italian ice

  • Meaning: A sweet frozen dessert made from fruit (or artificial flavoring) and sugar.
  • Origin: This treat has its roots in Italy but has been popularized in various forms across NYC, especially in summer.
  • Usage: “It’s sweltering out here, let’s get some Italian ice.”

In the weeds

  • Meaning: Overwhelmed or behind in one‚Äôs work, especially in the restaurant business.
  • Origin: Likely originated from golf, where being “in the weeds” literally meant being off the fairway. It’s now common in many busy NYC restaurants.
  • Usage: “Sorry I can’t chat, I’m totally in the weeds tonight.”


  • Meaning: Interborough Rapid Transit, the original subway system in New York City.
  • Origin: The IRT was the private operator of the original underground NYC subway line that opened in 1904.
  • Usage: “This old map shows the IRT routes.”


  • Meaning: Referring to independent music or films, commonly associated with Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and other hip neighborhoods.
  • Origin: Short for “independent”, indicating production outside of major labels or studios.
  • Usage: “There’s an indie film festival happening in Williamsburg this weekend.”


  • Meaning: An old term for a refrigerator.
  • Origin: Before modern refrigeration, people kept their food cold in insulated boxes containing blocks of ice.
  • Usage: “Put the milk back in the icebox.”

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  • Meaning: Crossing the street illegally or without regard for traffic rules.
  • Origin: The term ‚Äújay‚ÄĚ used to mean a naive or foolish person, so “j-walking” meant walking like a jay, unaware of traffic.
  • Usage: “Watch out for cops when you’re j-walking. They’ve been cracking down lately.”


  • Meaning: Refers to the New York Jets, a professional football team.
  • Origin: Originally named the New York Titans, they changed their name in 1963 to the Jets, probably because of the team‚Äôs stadium proximity to LaGuardia Airport.
  • Usage: “Did you catch the Jets game last Sunday?”

Jones Beach

  • Meaning: A popular public beach on the south shore of Long Island.
  • Origin: Named after the barrier island it is on, Jones Beach has been a go-to spot for New Yorkers since the 1920s.
  • Usage: “We’re heading out to Jones Beach this weekend for some sun.”


  • Meaning: Respect or credibility.
  • Origin: Originated from Black and Latino communities in NYC in the late 20th century. Gaining “juice” meant gaining respect.
  • Usage: “After he stood up to the bullies, he got a lot of juice in the neighborhood.”


  • Meaning: Famous restaurant and bakery known for its cheesecake.
  • Origin: Junior’s was founded by Harry Rosen in 1950 in Downtown Brooklyn.
  • Usage: “If you want the best cheesecake, you’ve got to go to Junior’s.”

Jumping the turnstile

  • Meaning: Entering the subway without paying, usually by hopping over the turnstile.
  • Origin: The act of literally jumping over the turnstiles in subway stations to avoid fare.
  • Usage: “I saw a guy get caught jumping the turnstile today.”


  • Meaning: A bathroom or toilet.
  • Origin: Origin unclear but has been used in this context since the 1930s.
  • Usage: “Where’s the john in this place?”

Johnny pump

  • Meaning: Another term for a fire hydrant.
  • Origin: Possibly a corruption of the term “joining pump”, as they are joined to the main water supply.
  • Usage: “Kids were playing in the water from the johnny pump during the hot summer day.”


  • Meaning: Refers to a cluttered, messy area in the city, often where homeless people might set up temporary shelters.
  • Origin: Likely derived from the chaotic and dense nature of jungles, used metaphorically for certain urban areas.
  • Usage: “He lives deep in the jungle, you’ll have a hard time finding him.”


  • Meaning: Extremely crowded or full.
  • Origin: “Jam” in this context refers to a large group of people or things crowded together.
  • Usage: “The subway is jam-packed during rush hour.”


  • Meaning: A small bus or a shared taxi that carries passengers for a low fare.
  • Origin: Originally meant a nickel, which was the fare for a short ride on a small passenger vehicle in the early 20th century.
  • Usage: “I took a jitney from the station to the beach.”


  • Meaning: A place, can refer to a home, or a local restaurant or bar.
  • Origin: General American slang that’s been adopted widely.
  • Usage: “Let’s hit that joint after work for some grub.”


  • Meaning: Money.
  • Origin: General U.S. slang. The term “jack” has been used to refer to money since the early 19th century.
  • Usage: “I need to make some jack if I’m gonna make rent this month.”


  • Meaning: Talking, often in a casual or aimless manner.
  • Origin: To “jaw” is to talk or chat, derived from the movement of the jaw when speaking.
  • Usage: “Stop jawing and get to work!”

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  • Meaning: Shoes, especially sneakers.
  • Origin: Derived from the action of “kicking” with one’s foot.
  • Usage: “Check out my new kicks! Got them on sale downtown.”

Knuckle up

  • Meaning: To prepare to fight, usually by making a fist.
  • Origin: Refers to the act of clenching one’s fingers into a fist, thus showing the knuckles.
  • Usage: “Those two are about to knuckle up outside the bar.”


  • Meaning: A cheap or inferior copy of a popular product.
  • Origin: Refers to the idea of “knocking off” or copying a design or product.
  • Usage: “She bought a knockoff designer purse from that street vendor.”

Keep it 100

  • Meaning: To be honest or genuine; keeping it real.
  • Origin: Refers to the idea of giving or being a 100%, meaning all-in or completely genuine.
  • Usage: “I always respect him because he keeps it 100, no matter what.”


  • Meaning: A native or inhabitant of New York.
  • Origin: Derived from the name of the Dutch settlers who came to the New World, specifically to what is now New York.
  • Usage: “As a true Knickerbocker, I know the city like the back of my hand.”

Killin’ it

  • Meaning: Doing an excellent job or performing exceptionally well.
  • Origin: “Killing” in this context refers to dominating or performing exceptionally well in a task.
  • Usage: “Did you see her performance last night? She was killin’ it!”


  • Meaning: A relaxed gathering or party. Also refers to a bribe in some contexts.
  • Origin: “Kick back” traditionally means to relax or recline, hence the term for a relaxed gathering. The bribery context probably comes from the idea of “kicking” something “back” to someone as a payoff.
  • Usage: “We’re having a small kickback at my place later if you want to come.”


  • Meaning: Referring to Katz’s Delicatessen, an iconic New York deli famous for its pastrami sandwiches.
  • Origin: Named after its founders, the Katz family.
  • Usage: “If you’re in the mood for a good sandwich, let’s hit up Katz’s.”


  • Meaning: A person who is the leader in their particular field, especially in crime.
  • Origin: Originally a bowling term, referring to the main pin. In crime, it signifies the main person or leader.
  • Usage: “He’s the kingpin of the underground scene in Brooklyn.”

Kitted out

  • Meaning: Dressed up or equipped with the best of everything.
  • Origin: “Kit” refers to a set of items or equipment. When one is “kitted out,” they have the best equipment or attire.
  • Usage: “He came to the party fully kitted out, wearing designer everything.”


  • Meaning: Something that is hilariously funny.
  • Origin: The physical act of slapping one’s knee in response to a joke.
  • Usage: “That joke he told was a real knee-slapper!”


  • Meaning: Legitimate or genuine; also refers to food that adheres to Jewish dietary laws.
  • Origin: Yiddish term referring to food prepared according to Jewish dietary laws.
  • Usage: “Don’t worry, the deal’s kosher.” or “Is this restaurant kosher?”


  • Meaning: A type of street dance popularized in the U.S. known for its expressive and intense movements.
  • Origin: Emerged from the African-American and Hispanic communities of South Central Los Angeles in the early 2000s.
  • Usage: “There’s a krumping battle downtown tonight.”


  • Meaning: To put an end to; stop.
  • Origin: Uncertain, but it’s been a part of English slang since the early 19th century. It’s been suggested that it might have Yiddish or Irish origins.
  • Usage: “The rain really put the kibosh on our picnic plans.”

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  • Meaning: A specific subway line running through Manhattan and Brooklyn.
  • Origin: Named after the subway service that uses this line.
  • Usage: “I missed the L-train and had to wait 20 minutes for the next one.”


  • Meaning: Something that’s excellent, exciting, or popular.
  • Origin: Originally a slang term for “intoxicated” in the 1910s. Its meaning evolved over time.
  • Usage: “Last night’s party was totally lit!”

Lock it in

  • Meaning: Confirm or finalize something.
  • Origin: Possibly derived from locking in a choice or decision.
  • Usage: “We’re going to that concert next week, right? Lock it in!”


  • Meaning: Something subtle, quiet, or not to be shared widely; alternatively, to a small extent.
  • Origin: Combining “low” and “key,” suggesting not drawing attention.
  • Usage: “I lowkey love that old TV show.”


  • Meaning: Living room or a place to relax.
  • Origin: From the old French word “s’allonger” meaning to recline.
  • Usage: “Let’s chill in the lounge.”


  • Meaning: Someone who drinks a lot or something plush and luxurious.
  • Origin: Middle English term for “lax or soft” which later described heavy drinkers.
  • Usage: “That hotel room is so lush!” or “Don’t be such a lush.”


  • Meaning: A room or space directly under the roof of a building, used for accommodation or storage.
  • Origin: Old Norse word “lopt” meaning air or sky.
  • Usage: “She’s renting a loft in SoHo.”


  • Meaning: A small restaurant or diner where lunch can be purchased.
  • Origin: American term, a blend of ‘luncheon’ and the suffix ‘-ette’ implying a small or quaint venue.
  • Usage: “Let’s grab a quick bite at the luncheonette.”


  • Meaning: Having a lot of money.
  • Origin: Implies a ‘loaded’ or ‘full’ wallet.
  • Usage: “He just got a new job, and he’s loaded now.”


  • Meaning: Referring to someone who is left-handed or politically liberal.
  • Origin: From “left” indicating the hand preference or political inclination.
  • Usage: “He’s a lefty, so he always sits on that side of the table.”

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  • Meaning: Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees the public transit in New York.
  • Origin: Named after the government organization.
  • Usage: “The MTA is raising subway fares again.”


  • Meaning: Very or a lot; used for emphasis.
  • Origin: Likely evolved from “madly” meaning extremely or passionately.
  • Usage: “It’s mad cold outside.”


  • Meaning: The act of a man spreading his legs, especially in public transportation, taking up more than one seat.
  • Origin: Blend of “man” and “spreading”. Became widely discussed in NYC regarding subway etiquette.
  • Usage: “There’s no place to sit because that guy’s manspreading.”


  • Meaning: Referring to the Meatpacking District, known for its nightlife, in Manhattan.
  • Origin: Historically, this area was home to meat distribution companies.
  • Usage: “There’s a new club in Meatpacking we should check out.”


  • Meaning: Extremely crowded or busy.
  • Origin: Derived from “mob” indicating a large crowd of people.
  • Usage: “The restaurant was mobbed by the time we got there.”


  • Meaning: Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
  • Origin: Abbreviation of Museum of Modern Art.
  • Usage: “They’ve got a new exhibit at MoMA.”


  • Meaning: Face or expression.
  • Origin: Possibly derived from mugs used in mug shots.
  • Usage: “Why the long mug? Cheer up!”


  • Meaning: Robbing someone in a public place.
  • Origin: Possibly linked to the aggressive facial expressions (mugs) of robbers.
  • Usage: “Be careful in that neighborhood; there have been several muggings.”


  • Meaning: A craving for food, usually snacks, often after smoking marijuana.
  • Origin: Informal term for “little bits to eat”.
  • Usage: “After the party, we all had the munchies.”

My bad

  • Meaning: An informal way to admit a mistake or apologize.
  • Origin: African American Vernacular English, gained popularity in the ’80s and ’90s.
  • Usage: “Oh, you were sitting here? My bad.”

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No cap

  • Meaning: No lie; to be honest.
  • Origin: From the phrase “capping” or “cappin'”, which means to lie or exaggerate.
  • Usage: “That was the best pizza I’ve ever had, no cap.”


  • Meaning: Nothing.
  • Origin: Borrowed from Spanish where it means ‘nothing’.
  • Usage: “I’ve got nada in my wallet right now.”

No diggity

  • Meaning: Absolutely, for sure.
  • Origin: Popularized by the song “No Diggity” by Blackstreet in the 1990s.
  • Usage: “That concert was awesome, no diggity.”

No sleep till Brooklyn

  • Meaning: Keep going, don’t stop.
  • Origin: From the Beastie Boys’ song “No Sleep till Brooklyn” which became an anthem.
  • Usage: “We’ve got a long night ahead of us, no sleep till Brooklyn!”


  • Meaning: Refers to the New York Knicks, a professional basketball team.
  • Origin: Shortened form of “Knickerbockers”, the official name of the team.
  • Usage: “Are you going to the Nicks game tonight?”


  • Meaning: Refers to the neighborhood North of Madison Square Park in Manhattan.
  • Origin: A portmanteau of “North of Madison”.
  • Usage: “I just moved to a new place in Nomad.”


  • Meaning: Grandmother.
  • Origin: Borrowed from Italian, where it means ‘grandmother’.
  • Usage: “I’m having dinner at my nonna’s tonight.”

Now you’re talking

  • Meaning: An expression of approval or agreement.
  • Origin: An old idiom expressing understanding or agreement.
  • Usage: “A slice of cheesecake after dinner? Now you’re talking!”

No worries

  • Meaning: That’s alright, don’t worry about it.
  • Origin: A laid-back way of saying “it’s okay”, used widely beyond NYC.
  • Usage: “You’re late? No worries, we just got here too.”


  • Meaning: New York Police Department.
  • Origin: Abbreviation for New York Police Department.
  • Usage: “The NYPD has a station right down the block.”

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On the real

  • Meaning: Honestly; truly.
  • Origin: Urban slang emphasizing authenticity.
  • Usage: “On the real, that’s the best bagel spot in the city.”

On the arm

  • Meaning: Free of charge.
  • Origin: Likely comes from the notion of “an open hand”, indicating giving.
  • Usage: “He’s a regular here, so he gets his coffee on the arm.”

On the level

  • Meaning: Being honest or truthful.
  • Origin: Originates from the tool used to check if surfaces are straight; indicates straight-talking or honesty.
  • Usage: “Can you be on the level with me about what happened last night?”


  • Meaning: Referring to a cup of espresso.
  • Origin: Coffee culture term; one shot of espresso.
  • Usage: “I’ll have a one-shot with a dash of milk.”

Outta pocket

  • Meaning: Acting out of place, inappropriate, or crazy.
  • Origin: Comes from the idea of being outside of one’s usual “place” or “pocket”.
  • Usage: “He was acting way outta pocket at the party.”


  • Meaning: Off-Track Betting, where one can legally bet on horse races.
  • Origin: Acronym for Off-Track Betting.
  • Usage: “There’s an OTB just two blocks from here.”

Out of town

  • Meaning: Referring to Broadway theaters located outside the main Broadway theater district.
  • Origin: From New York’s theater district terminology.
  • Usage: “That new play is showing at an out of town venue before hitting Broadway.”

Over the bridge

  • Meaning: Referring to places outside of Manhattan, especially in Brooklyn or Queens.
  • Origin: Literal reference to the bridges connecting Manhattan to other boroughs.
  • Usage: “I moved over the bridge to find cheaper rent.”

Over yonder

  • Meaning: Over there or at a distance.
  • Origin: Older idiom that’s widely used, not just in NYC, to indicate a place not too far but not close either.
  • Usage: “The diner? It’s over yonder, past the red building.”

Owning the room

  • Meaning: Commanding attention and respect in a gathering or meeting.
  • Origin: Refers to a dominant, confident presence.
  • Usage: “When she presented her idea, she was totally owning the room.”

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Packed to the gills

  • Meaning: Extremely crowded.
  • Origin: Derives from the imagery of fish being packed tightly, gill to gill.
  • Usage: “The subway during rush hour is always packed to the gills.”


  • Meaning: Money.
  • Origin: Reference to paper currency.
  • Usage: “I gotta make some paper before the end of the week.”

Park it

  • Meaning: To sit down.
  • Origin: A colloquial expression likening someone to a car that needs to be parked.
  • Usage: “You look tired. Why don’t you park it over here?”

Piece of cake

  • Meaning: Something that’s easy or simple.
  • Origin: The exact origin is unclear, but it‚Äôs used to express the ease of doing something (like eating a piece of cake).
  • Usage: “Don’t worry, the exam is a piece of cake.”

Playing the dozens

  • Meaning: Trading insults, often about each other‚Äôs mothers.
  • Origin: An old African American game of verbal combat.
  • Usage: “They started playing the dozens, and everyone was laughing.”

Pop a cap

  • Meaning: To shoot someone.
  • Origin: Refers to the act of firing a bullet (a “cap”) from a gun.
  • Usage: “He threatened to pop a cap if they didn’t leave his turf.”

Pulling your leg

  • Meaning: Joking or teasing someone.
  • Origin: The exact origin is unclear, but it suggests the act of tripping or playfully preventing someone from moving forward.
  • Usage: “I’m just pulling your leg! Of course, I remember your birthday.”

Push in luck

  • Meaning: Taking chances when one has been lucky already.
  • Origin: Refers to the idea of pushing or testing how far one’s good fortune will go.
  • Usage: “Winning once was great, but don’t push your luck by betting everything again.”

Put up your dukes

  • Meaning: Prepare to fight.
  • Origin: “Dukes” is old New York slang for fists. Likely from Cockney rhyming slang “Duke of Yorks” for forks (fingers).
  • Usage: “If you keep talking trash, you better put up your dukes.”

Playing possum

  • Meaning: Pretending to be asleep or dead.
  • Origin: Based on the behavior of possums, which will often play dead as a defense mechanism.
  • Usage: “He’s not really asleep; he’s just playing possum.”

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  • Meaning: One of the subway lines in New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) system.
  • Origin: Part of New York’s extensive subway system, named sequentially.
  • Usage: “I’m hopping on the Q-train to get to Brooklyn.”


  • Meaning: One of the five boroughs of New York City.
  • Origin: Named in honor of Catherine of Braganza, Queen of England and Portugal in the late 17th century.
  • Usage: “She’s from Queens; grew up there her whole life.”


  • Meaning: Abbreviation for Queens, NY.
  • Origin: A common abbreviation, especially seen on social media or in addresses.
  • Usage: “Meet me in QNS later; we’ll grab some food.”

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  • Meaning: Another subway line in New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) system.
  • Origin: Part of New York’s extensive subway system, named sequentially.
  • Usage: “I take the R-train every day to get to work.”

Radio City

  • Meaning: Short for Radio City Music Hall, a popular entertainment venue located in Manhattan.
  • Origin: Opened in 1932, it’s famous for the Radio City Rockettes, a dance company known for their annual Christmas show.
  • Usage: “We got tickets for a show at Radio City tonight!”


  • Meaning: Often refers to the large population of rats found in New York, especially in the subway system.
  • Origin: Urban environments often have rat populations, but NYC’s are notoriously bold.
  • Usage: “I saw a huge rat at the subway station this morning.”

Rucker Park

  • Meaning: A basketball court in Harlem famous for its streetball style of play and tournaments.
  • Origin: Named after teacher and playground director Holcombe Rucker.
  • Usage: “Many NBA players started at Rucker Park before they got famous.”

Rent Party

  • Meaning: A party where tenants hire a musician or band to play and pass the hat to raise money to pay their rent.
  • Origin: Originated during the Harlem Renaissance, when residents (often musicians themselves) would throw parties to collect rent money.
  • Usage: “They’re throwing a rent party upstairs. Sounds fun, let’s join!”


  • Meaning: Nickname for Rockefeller Center, especially around Christmas when the tree is up.
  • Origin: Named after John D. Rockefeller Jr., who leased the space.
  • Usage: “Meet me at the Rock; I want to see the Christmas tree!”

Rooftop Bar

  • Meaning: A bar situated on the rooftop of a building, providing scenic views of the city. A popular spot in NYC.
  • Origin: NYC’s vertical growth led to the popularity of bars offering aerial views.
  • Usage: “Let’s hit that new rooftop bar in Midtown tonight.”


  • Meaning: Sneakers or athletic shoes.
  • Origin: General American slang, but widely used in NYC, especially in urban and hip-hop cultures.
  • Usage: “Check out my new runners; got them from that store in SoHo.”

Rush Hour

  • Meaning: The times at the beginning and the end of the working day when, due to people commuting, traffic congestion is at its highest.
  • Origin: This term is not exclusive to New York but is especially relevant given the city’s notorious traffic.
  • Usage: “Avoid taking the subway during rush hour unless you want to get squished.”

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  • Meaning: Short for Staten Island, one of New York City’s five boroughs.
  • Origin: Named after the Dutch parliament, the “Staten Generaal.”
  • Usage: “I’m headed to Staten to visit my grandma this weekend.”


  • Meaning: A single piece of pizza.
  • Origin: Pizza is iconic in NYC, and ordering by the slice is common.
  • Usage: “Just grab a slice on the way, it’s faster.”


  • Meaning: The front steps of a building, typically of brownstones in Brooklyn and Harlem.
  • Origin: From the Dutch word “stoep” which means step or staircase.
  • Usage: “Kids are playing on the stoop again.”


  • Meaning: A generous spread of cream cheese on a bagel.
  • Origin: From the Yiddish word “schmirn” which means to spread or smear.
  • Usage: “I’ll have a bagel with a schmear.”


  • Meaning: An abbreviation for “South of Houston Street,” a trendy neighborhood in Manhattan known for its artists’ lofts and art galleries.
  • Origin: The name is a play on location and is similar to the naming convention of other NYC neighborhoods (e.g., TriBeCa).
  • Usage: “She’s got a studio in SoHo.”

Subway Series

  • Meaning: A series of Major League Baseball (MLB) games played between the New York Yankees and the New York Mets.
  • Origin: Both teams are from NYC, and fans can travel to the games on the subway.
  • Usage: “Who are you rooting for in the Subway Series?”


  • Meaning: Refers to Times Square, a major commercial and tourist hub in Midtown Manhattan.
  • Origin: Originally named after the New York Times newspaper which had its headquarters there.
  • Usage: “The ball drop in the Square on New Year’s Eve is iconic.”


  • Meaning: A type of dance performance seen on NYC subways, usually involving pole tricks and acrobatics.
  • Origin: Dancers often announce their performance with the word “Showtime!”
  • Usage: “I had to switch cars; some kids started a Showtime.”


  • Meaning: Refers to swiping a MetroCard to pay fare and enter the subway system.
  • Origin: The swiping action used when entering the subway.
  • Usage: “I swiped my card, but the turnstile didn‚Äôt budge.”


  • Meaning: An extremely tall building, a staple in the NYC skyline.
  • Origin: New York, being a densely populated city with limited space, grew vertically leading to the construction of many skyscrapers.
  • Usage: “The view from that skyscraper is breathtaking.”

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The City

  • Meaning: Refers to Manhattan, even though NYC has five boroughs.
  • Origin: Historically, Manhattan was the main hub and is still often considered the center of NYC.
  • Usage: “I’m heading into The City for a meeting.”


  • Meaning: Short for Timberland boots, which are very popular in NYC.
  • Origin: Timberland, the American manufacturer, became popular in NYC’s urban and hip-hop scenes.
  • Usage: “It’s snowing outside, better put on my Timbs.”


  • Meaning: A neighborhood in Manhattan. It stands for “Triangle Below Canal Street.”
  • Origin: A portmanteau of “Triangle Below Canal,” reflecting its location.
  • Usage: “Robert De Niro has a place in TriBeCa.”


  • Meaning: Refers to using a contactless payment card or mobile device to pay for subway or bus fare.
  • Origin: The Metropolitan Transportation Authority introduced the tap-and-go system as a replacement for swiping a MetroCard.
  • Usage: “I forgot my MetroCard, but I can tap with my phone.”

Throggs Neck

  • Meaning: A narrow spit of land in the southeastern portion of the Bronx.
  • Origin: Named after John Throckmorton, who had lived in the area during the 1600s.
  • Usage: “My aunt has a house in Throggs Neck.”


  • Meaning: Upset or annoyed.
  • Origin: Likely comes from the feeling of tension.
  • Usage: “He was real tight when he missed the train.”

Taking the L

  • Meaning: Refers to suffering a loss or setback; can also refer to literally taking the L train.
  • Origin: “L” stands for loss, but in NYC, there’s also the L train line.
  • Usage: “He had to admit he was wrong; he’s taking the L on this one.”

The Big Apple

  • Meaning: A nickname for New York City.
  • Origin: Popularized in the 1920s by a local newspaper sports writer.
  • Usage: “The Big Apple always has something new to offer.”

Two Bridges

  • Meaning: A neighborhood in the southeastern part of Manhattan.
  • Origin: Named for its location between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.
  • Usage: “Two Bridges has some of the best Chinese food in the city.”


  • Meaning: The metal gates you walk through after swiping your MetroCard to enter the subway.
  • Origin: Named for their rotating arms that turn as people pass through.
  • Usage: “My MetroCard got declined at the turnstile.”

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  • Meaning: An abbreviation for the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
  • Origin: Derived from the geographical location, it’s located to the northeast of Central Park.
  • Usage: “I have a friend who lives in a swanky apartment on the UES.”


  • Meaning: Refers to the northern parts of Manhattan.
  • Origin: Relative to the orientation of Manhattan’s grid, moving northward is going “uptown.”
  • Usage: “I need to take the 1 train uptown to get to my place.”


  • Meaning: Refers to the parts of New York State that are north of NYC.
  • Origin: Contrasts with Downstate New York, which includes the city and its nearby suburbs.
  • Usage: “I’m going upstate for a weekend retreat.”

Union Square

  • Meaning: A historic intersection and surrounding neighborhood in Manhattan.
  • Origin: Originally formed as a union of two major roads, hence the name.
  • Usage: “Let’s meet up at Union Square; there’s a farmer’s market today.”


  • Meaning: An abbreviation for the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
  • Origin: Derived from its geographical location, it’s to the northwest of Central Park.
  • Usage: “The UWS has some great parks and cafes.”

Under the weather

  • Meaning: Feeling ill or not oneself.
  • Origin: This idiom’s exact origin is unknown, but it’s used nationally, not just in New York.
  • Usage: “I can’t come into work today; I’m feeling under the weather.”


  • Meaning: Refers to the subway system in NYC.
  • Origin: Because the majority of the NYC subway system is below ground.
  • Usage: “I’ll take the underground to get there; it’s faster.”


  • Meaning: Being stressed or anxious about something.
  • Origin: It’s a term that has been used broadly in the U.S., not just specific to NYC.
  • Usage: “Why are you so uptight about the meeting? It’ll be fine.”

Up your alley

  • Meaning: Something that’s suited to one’s interests or abilities.
  • Origin: The term ‘alley’ used to refer to activities or interests one is familiar with.
  • Usage: “You love jazz? There’s a club up in Harlem that’s right up your alley.”

Use your loaf

  • Meaning: Think about it; use your head/brain.
  • Origin: Cockney rhyming slang “loaf of bread” for “head.”
  • Usage: “Come on, use your loaf! You know that’s not the right way to do it.”

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  • Meaning: Refers to Greenwich Village, a neighborhood in Manhattan known for its bohemian and artistic atmosphere.
  • Origin: Historically, Greenwich Village was a separate village from New York City, hence the name.
  • Usage: “There’s an incredible jazz club in the Village you should check out.”

Vibe out

  • Meaning: To relax, chill, or enjoy oneself.
  • Origin: Derived from “vibe,” which means a feeling or atmosphere. The phrase suggests aligning oneself with a particular mood or feeling.
  • Usage: “After work, I just want to vibe out and listen to some music.”


  • Meaning: Wine.
  • Origin: From the Italian word for wine.
  • Usage: “Let’s grab a bottle of vino for the dinner party.”


  • Meaning: Very Important Person.
  • Origin: A term used globally to denote someone of high importance or special access.
  • Usage: “They have a VIP section in that club where all the celebrities hang out.”

V train

  • Meaning: A former New York City Subway service.
  • Origin: Part of the NYC subway labeling system.
  • Usage: “I used to take the V train to work, but they changed the lines.”

Van Wyck

  • Meaning: Refers to the Van Wyck Expressway in Queens.
  • Origin: Named after former New York City Mayor Robert C. Van Wyck.
  • Usage: “Traffic on the Van Wyck was a nightmare this morning.”


  • Meaning: A slang term for the annual Vendy Awards, which honor the best of New York City’s food vendors.
  • Origin: A play on the word “vendor.”
  • Usage: “Did you hear? That taco truck won a Vendy this year!”


  • Meaning: Overcome with emotion.
  • Origin: Borrowed from Yiddish, reflecting NYC’s diverse linguistic heritage.
  • Usage: “I was so verklempt when she announced her engagement.”


  • Meaning: Refers to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connecting Staten Island and Brooklyn.
  • Origin: Named after Giovanni da Verrazzano, the first known European explorer to enter New York Harbor.
  • Usage: “The toll for the Verrazano keeps going up.”


  • Meaning: Refers to a bad habit or a moral failing.
  • Origin: From Old French “vice.”
  • Usage: “His only vice is that he smokes a cigar now and then.”

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Wall Street

  • Meaning: Financial district of NYC and symbolic for the financial markets of the United States.
  • Origin: Named after a 17th-century wall built by the Dutch in New Amsterdam.
  • Usage: “He got a job in Wall Street straight out of college.”

The Wax

  • Meaning: The old subway tokens used in NYC before the introduction of the MetroCard.
  • Origin: The token had a similar look and feel to a small wax disc.
  • Usage: “I remember when we used to pay for the subway with the wax.”

West Side

  • Meaning: Refers to the western part of Manhattan.
  • Origin: Geographical term based on Manhattan’s layout.
  • Usage: “She lives on the West Side, near the park.”

What’s good?

  • Meaning: A greeting, synonymous with “What’s up?” or “How are you?”
  • Origin: Evolved from African American Vernacular English (AAVE).
  • Usage: “Hey, long time no see! What’s good?”

White Plains

  • Meaning: A city in Westchester County, north of New York City.
  • Origin: Named after the grassy open plains by the English settlers.
  • Usage: “I’m heading up to White Plains for a meeting.”

Willy B

  • Meaning: Short for the Williamsburg Bridge.
  • Origin: Named after the neighborhood it connects to Manhattan, Williamsburg in Brooklyn.
  • Usage: “I usually take the Willy B to get into Manhattan.”


  • Meaning: An affirmation, agreement, or to indicate understanding. Similar to saying “Exactly” or “True.”
  • Origin: African American Vernacular English (AAVE) in the late 20th century.
  • Usage: “That movie was awesome.” “Word, I loved it.”

World’s Fair

  • Meaning: Refers to the two world’s fairs held in Queens in 1939 and 1964.
  • Origin: Named after the large international exhibitions.
  • Usage: “They say you can still visit some remnants from the World’s Fair in the park.”


  • Meaning: A hip-hop group from Staten Island, known worldwide.
  • Origin: Named after the Wu-Tang sword style from Chinese martial arts films.
  • Usage: “Wu-Tang’s influence on hip hop is undeniable.”

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  • Meaning: Abbreviation for “crossing”, often seen on street signs.
  • Origin: A simplified way to denote areas where pedestrians or other vehicles might cross.
  • Usage: “Watch out for that pedestrian X-ing up ahead.”

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  • Meaning: A nickname for an American, but more locally in New York, it refers to a member or fan of the New York Yankees, the city’s Major League Baseball team.
  • Origin: The term “Yankee” has been in use since the 18th century and was used during the American Civil War to refer to people from the North. The New York Yankees, founded in 1901, took on the name.
  • Usage: “He’s a die-hard Yankee fan; never misses a game.”


  • Meaning: An acronym for “You Only Live Once.”
  • Origin: The phrase became popular in the 2010s, especially after being featured in a song by rapper Drake.
  • Usage: “I decided to take the jump, because, you know, YOLO!”


  • Meaning: A city located directly north of the Bronx, often considered a part of the larger New York City area.
  • Origin: Derived from the Dutch “Jonkheer,” meaning “young gentleman” or “young nobleman”.
  • Usage: “She moved out to Yonkers for a bigger place, but she still works in Manhattan.”


  • Meaning: An acronym for “Young Urban Professional.” Refers to a young person with a well-paying job and urban lifestyle.
  • Origin: The term became popular in the 1980s to describe a certain class of city dwellers.
  • Usage: “The neighborhood used to be all artists, but now it’s filled with yuppies.”

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  • Meaning: A famous gourmet food store located on the Upper West Side.
  • Origin: Opened in 1934 by Louis and Lillian Zabar.
  • Usage: “I’m going to Zabar’s to get some of that amazing smoked salmon.”

Zero (Ground Zero)

  • Meaning: Refers to the site where the World Trade Center towers stood before the 9/11 attacks.
  • Origin: After the 9/11 attacks, the site was often referred to as “Ground Zero.”
  • Usage: “They built the new Freedom Tower at Ground Zero.”

Zoo York

  • Meaning: A popular brand of skateboards and apparel.
  • Origin: The name is a play on “New York” and was inspired by a subway tunnel running beneath the Central Park Zoo.
  • Usage: “Check out my new Zoo York hoodie.”

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That’s it for our list of New York slang, sayings and phrases! Thanks for continuing to expand your vocabulary with us.¬† Did we miss something? Let us know down below in the comments ‚§Ķ.

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American Sayings and Slang Glossary

Stepping into the world of Uncle Sam and apple pie? The U.S. is more than just Hollywood and the Statue of Liberty; it’s filled with sayings, idioms, and slang phrases that might just throw you for a loop. Here, we’ve compiled the most quintessential American expressions, complete with their meanings, origins, and illustrative examples. Whether you’re a stateside resident or an eager tourist, this guide will help you talk the talk. Speak like a true American patriot in no time! Without further ado, here’s our list of American sayings, idioms, and slang phrases:

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

  • Meaning: It’s better to have a sure thing than two uncertainties.
  • Origin: This proverb goes back to medieval falconry where a bird in the hand (the one you’ve caught) was deemed more valuable than two in the bush (those you might still chase).
  • Usage: “He offered me a job, and I took it. A bird in the hand, you know?”

A dime a dozen

  • Meaning: Something very common, not of great value.
  • Origin: Dates back to a time when many items cost a dime.
  • Usage: “These souvenir keychains are a dime a dozen.”

A piece of cake

  • Meaning: Something that’s easy to do.
  • Origin: Likely from the idea that eating cake is a pleasant and simple experience.
  • Usage: “The test was a piece of cake.”

A penny for your thoughts

  • Meaning: Asking someone what they are thinking.
  • Origin: Dates back to 1522 when Sir Thomas More wrote it in a book.
  • Usage: “You seem distant. A penny for your thoughts?”

A shot in the dark

  • Meaning: An attempt that has little chance for success.
  • Origin: The phrase likely comes from the randomness of firing a gun in the dark and hoping to hit something.
  • Usage: “I don’t know the answer, so this is just a shot in the dark.”

At the drop of a hat

  • Meaning: Immediately; without hesitation.
  • Origin: It’s believed that dropping a hat was once a way to start a race or challenge.
  • Usage: “If she called, he’d be there at the drop of a hat.”

Bite the bullet

  • Meaning: To face a difficult situation with courage.
  • Origin: Comes from the practice where soldiers would bite on a bullet during painful procedures to cope with the pain.
  • Usage: “It’s a tough decision, but you’ll have to bite the bullet.”

Burning the midnight oil

  • Meaning: Working late into the night.
  • Origin: Refers to the time before electricity where people used oil lamps to work late hours.
  • Usage: “She’s been burning the midnight oil studying for her exams.”

Batten down the hatches

  • Meaning: Prepare for a difficult or turbulent time.
  • Origin: A nautical term. When a storm was expected, the hatches (an opening in the deck of a ship) were covered and secured.
  • Usage: “They’re predicting a big storm tonight, so batten down the hatches.”

Beating around the bush

  • Meaning: Avoiding the main topic or issue, not speaking directly.
  • Origin: Comes from hunting where hunters would literally beat around bushes to flush out game birds.
  • Usage: “Stop beating around the bush and tell me what you want.”

Bee’s knees

  • Meaning: An excellent person or thing.
  • Origin: American slang from the 1920s, the era of bee’s knees and cat’s pajamas.
  • Usage: “This new gaming console is the bee’s knees!”

Bend over backwards

  • Meaning: To try very hard to help or please someone.
  • Origin: The phrase refers to the physical act of bending backward which is not easy.
  • Usage: “She bent over backwards to help her students succeed.”

Bite the dust

  • Meaning: To die or fail.
  • Origin: Possibly from the Bible, or the idea of someone falling face first into the dirt in death.
  • Usage: “My old laptop finally bit the dust.”

Break the ice

  • Meaning: To start a conversation in a social setting to relieve tension.
  • Origin: Refers to breaking the ice on waterways to allow boats to pass.
  • Usage: “He told a joke to break the ice at the beginning of the meeting.”

By the skin of your teeth

  • Meaning: Narrowly, barely.
  • Origin: Comes from the Book of Job in the Bible.
  • Usage: “I made it to the train by the skin of my teeth.”

Cry over spilled milk

  • Meaning: Wasting time worrying over things that have already happened and can’t be changed.
  • Origin: This proverbial phrase can be traced back to the 1650s, essentially referring to it being pointless to cry over something as simple and easily replaceable as milk.
  • Usage: “I know you’re upset you didn’t win, but there’s no use crying over spilled milk.”

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

  • Meaning: Don’t make plans based on future events that might not happen.
  • Origin: This idiom can be traced back to Aesop‚Äôs fables from the 6th century, emphasizing the idea of not acting on assumptions.
  • Usage: “He’s planning what he’ll buy with his bonus, but I told him not to count his chickens before they hatch.”

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

  • Meaning: Don’t risk everything on the success of one venture.
  • Origin: A proverb dating back to the 1600s which suggests diversification of resources to manage risk.
  • Usage: “I know you love that stock, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

Every cloud has a silver lining

  • Meaning: There’s a positive or hopeful side to every situation, no matter how adverse.
  • Origin: The phrase is likely derived from John Milton’s “Comus” (1634) with the line “Was I deceived? or did a sable cloud turn forth her silver lining on the night?”
  • Usage: “I was devastated when I lost my job, but then I found an even better one. Every cloud has a silver lining.”

For crying out loud

  • Meaning: An exclamation of frustration or surprise.
  • Origin: An American phrase from the early 20th century, possibly a cleaned-up version of a more vulgar exclamation.
  • Usage: “For crying out loud, can you just listen for a second?”

Go the extra mile

  • Meaning: Make more effort than is expected of you.
  • Origin: Derived from a passage in the New Testament (Matthew 5:41) where Jesus says “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.”
  • Usage: “She always goes the extra mile for her clients.”

Hit the hay/sack

  • Meaning: Go to bed.
  • Origin: “Hay” refers to a time when mattresses were often stuffed with straw. “Sack” similarly refers to a simple, sack-like bed.
  • Usage: “I’m exhausted. I think I’ll hit the hay.”

In the nick of time

  • Meaning: Just in the last moment before it’s too late.
  • Origin: “Nick” once meant the critical moment, a notch or small cut, so the phrase refers to arriving at that crucial moment.
  • Usage: “The firefighters arrived in the nick of time.”

Jump on the bandwagon

  • Meaning: To adopt a popular trend or activity.
  • Origin: Dates back to the 1840s from American politics, when a bandwagon was used in parades of which politicians would throw themselves onto in order to gain attention.
  • Usage: “When the team started winning, everyone jumped on the bandwagon.”

Keep your nose to the grindstone

  • Meaning: To work hard and continuously.
  • Origin: This saying comes from the old practice of knife grinders, who needed to keep their noses down toward the grindstone to do their work.
  • Usage: “If you keep your nose to the grindstone now, you’ll thank yourself during exam week.”

Let the cat out of the bag

  • Meaning: Reveal a secret.
  • Origin: Refers to old markets where pigs were sold in bags. A seller might replace it with a cat, and if it escaped, the deception was revealed.
  • Usage: “I didn’t mean to let the cat out of the bag about the surprise party!”

Make a mountain out of a molehill

  • Meaning: Exaggerate a small problem into something big.
  • Origin: This saying can be traced back to the 16th century. “Molehill” became synonymous with trifles due to its size.
  • Usage: “I only mentioned it once, and she made a mountain out of a molehill.”

No pain, no gain

  • Meaning: You can’t achieve anything without some hardship or effort.
  • Origin: A modern proverb that emphasizes the value of struggle and hard work.
  • Usage: “You’ll have to practice every day to get better. No pain, no gain.”

Off the hook

  • Meaning: Excused from a responsibility or obligation.
  • Origin: Originates from fishing, where a fish that gets “off the hook” is free and escapes.
  • Usage: “Thanks for covering for me; you got me off the hook with the boss.”

Pass the buck

  • Meaning: Shift responsibility to someone else.
  • Origin: The ‘buck’ is thought to come from the use of a buckhorn knife in poker games, which was passed to the person next in line to deal.
  • Usage: “Don’t try to pass the buck. It’s your responsibility.”

Quit cold turkey

  • Meaning: Stop an addiction or habit abruptly.
  • Origin: It‚Äôs believed to refer to the cold, clammy feel of the skin during withdrawal, like a turkey that has been refrigerated.
  • Usage: “He quit smoking cold turkey.”

Rain check

  • Meaning: An expression indicating the desire to postpone an offer or invitation for a later time.
  • Origin: Stemming from baseball, when a game was postponed due to rain, attendees were given a “rain check” to attend a rescheduled game.
  • Usage: “Can I take a rain check on dinner? I’m swamped with work tonight.”

Read between the lines

  • Meaning: To understand the hidden or unspoken meaning in something.
  • Origin: Comes from early cryptography, where hidden messages were literally written between the lines of overt texts.
  • Usage: “The email seems positive, but if you read between the lines, you can sense her frustration.”

Shoot the breeze

  • Meaning: To chat casually without any serious topic.
  • Origin: Origin unclear, but it’s believed to relate to the idle passing of time, similar to watching the breeze.
  • Usage: “We sat on the porch and shot the breeze for hours.”

Spill the beans

  • Meaning: To reveal a secret.
  • Origin: Ancient Greece where people voted using beans. Spilling the beans would inadvertently show the results.
  • Usage: “He spilled the beans about the surprise party.”

Take it with a grain of salt

  • Meaning: To be skeptical about something or not take it too seriously.
  • Origin: The idea comes from the fact that food is more easily swallowed if taken with a small amount of salt.
  • Usage: “I’d take what he says with a grain of salt.”

The ball is in your court

  • Meaning: It’s up to you to make the next move or decision.
  • Origin: Originates from tennis or other racquet sports where players hit the ball back and forth.
  • Usage: “I’ve done all I can do; now, the ball is in your court.”

Under the weather

  • Meaning: Feeling ill or not oneself.
  • Origin: Historically, sailors who felt seasick would go below deck, thus going “under the weather.”
  • Usage: “I’m feeling a bit under the weather, so I’ll stay home today.”

Up in arms

  • Meaning: To be very angry.
  • Origin: Refers to the act of taking up arms or preparing for battle.
  • Usage: “The community was up in arms about the new development.”

Vice versa

  • Meaning: The other way around; in reverse order.
  • Origin: Borrowed from Latin, meaning “in a turned position.”
  • Usage: “You can wear the dress with the jacket or vice versa.”

When pigs fly

  • Meaning: Something that will never happen.
  • Origin: The idea of pigs flying is so absurd it suggests impossibility.
  • Usage: “He’ll clean his room when pigs fly.”

You can’t judge a book by its cover

  • Meaning: You can’t judge something’s value or worth based solely on its appearance.
  • Origin: The phrase dates back to at least the mid-19th century and conveys that the external appearance doesn’t always reflect what’s inside.
  • Usage: “He might not look the part, but you can’t judge a book by its cover.”

You bet your boots

  • Meaning: Certainly; you can be sure.
  • Origin: Expresses strong affirmation, possibly originating from the idea of putting one’s valuable boots as a wager.
  • Usage: “Is the game on tonight? You bet your boots it is.”

Zip it

  • Meaning: Stop talking.
  • Origin: Likening the act of silencing someone to the swift motion of zipping up.
  • Usage: “Just zip it and listen!”

Zero in on

  • Meaning: To focus closely on something.
  • Origin: Military origin, referencing the adjusting of gun sights for accuracy.
  • Usage: “The team zeroed in on the issue to find a solution.”

Zonked out

  • Meaning: Extremely tired or exhausted.
  • Origin: Thought to have evolved from WWII military slang “zonk” which meant “to hit” or “knock out.”
  • Usage: “After the long hike, I was completely zonked out.”

That’s it for our list of American sayings, idioms and slang! Thanks for continuing to expand your vocabulary with us.  Did we miss something? Let us know down below in the comments ‚§Ķ.

Fascinated by Slang? Explore More!
Discover other captivating slang terms and their origins. Here are a few more gems for you:

Spanish slang glossary

Welcome to our comprehensive Spanish slang glossary! ūüöčūüŹėūüíą

Spain isn’t just about flamenco and paella; it’s pulsing with a vibrant array of slang that might bewilder even seasoned language aficionados. Here, we’ve selected the most emblematic Spanish slang terms, detailed with their meanings, origins, and illustrative examples. Whether you’re an ardent Hispanophile or a curious traveler, this guide is your gateway to grasping the colloquial nuances of Spain. Immerse yourself and speak with the flair of a true Spaniard! Without further delay, here’s our extensive list of Spanish slang:

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Trouble finding a certain phrase? Click control + F on your keyboard, and type in the term you’re trying to find. Still not able to find it? Let us know down in the comments below!



  • Meaning: A friendly term used in Murcia and some parts of southern Spain, similar to “mate” or “buddy.”
  • Origin: Possibly derived from “muchacho” meaning “boy” or “guy.”
  • Usage: “¬°Acho, hac√≠a tiempo que no te ve√≠a!” (“Mate, it’s been a while since I last saw you!”)


  • Meaning: A somewhat derogatory term for a bar or club, suggesting it’s a bit rundown or sketchy.
  • Origin: Derived from “antro” meaning “cave” or “den” in Spanish.
  • Usage: “No me gusta ese antro, siempre hay problemas all√≠.” (“I don‚Äôt like that dive bar; there’s always trouble there.”)


  • Meaning: To fix or manage something.
  • Origin: Possibly from the word “pa√Īo” meaning “cloth” or “patch.”
  • Usage: “No te preocupes, lo apa√Īar√©.” (“Don‚Äôt worry, I’ll fix it.”)


  • Meaning: Disgust. It’s often used to express strong disapproval or disgust about something.
  • Origin: Directly from the Spanish word for “disgust.”
  • Usage: “¬°Qu√© asco de d√≠a!” (“What a disgusting day!”)


  • Meaning: Literally means to tie up, but in slang, it can mean understanding or “getting it.”
  • Origin: Derived from the Spanish verb “atar” which means “to tie.”
  • Usage: “Ahora lo ato, gracias.” (“Now I get it, thanks.”)

A todo trapo

  • Meaning: Going full out or at full speed.
  • Origin: The term “trapo” means “rag,” but in this context, it’s more about going all out.
  • Usage: “Fue a todo trapo y gan√≥ la carrera.” (“He went full out and won the race.”)


  • Meaning: Literally means to whip or lash, but in slang, it can mean to fall hard or crash.
  • Origin: From the Spanish word “azote” meaning “whip” or “lashing.”
  • Usage: “Se azot√≥ con la bici y se hizo da√Īo.” (“He crashed with his bike and got hurt.”)


  • Meaning: Party pooper or wet blanket.
  • Origin: Directly translates to “water parties,” indicating someone who dampens the mood.
  • Usage: “No seas aguafiestas y √ļnete a la diversi√≥n.” (“Don‚Äôt be a party pooper and join the fun.”)

Al loro

  • Meaning: Be alert or pay attention.
  • Origin: “Loro” is a parrot, which is an alert bird.
  • Usage: “Al loro con lo que te digo.” (“Pay attention to what I’m telling you.”)

A mogollón

  • Meaning: In abundance or a lot.
  • Origin: Possibly from gypsy slang.
  • Usage: “Hab√≠a gente a mogoll√≥n en la fiesta.” (“There were loads of people at the party.”)

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  • Meaning: Gig or show, typically referring to a music concert.
  • Origin: Direct translation is “pin,” but its slang usage has roots in the music industry.
  • Usage: “Voy a un bolo de una banda local esta noche.” (“I’m going to a gig of a local band tonight.”)


  • Meaning: Rude or edgy.
  • Origin: Direct translation is “edge” or “border.”
  • Usage: “Fue muy borde conmigo sin raz√≥n.” (“He was very rude to me for no reason.”)


  • Meaning: A gathering, typically of young people, where alcohol is consumed, usually outdoors.
  • Origin: From “botella” which means “bottle.”
  • Usage: “Vamos a hacer un botell√≥n en el parque.” (“We’re going to have a gathering in the park.”)


  • Meaning: A fight or argument.
  • Origin: Possibly from the word “broma” meaning “joke,” but used in a more negative sense.
  • Usage: “Tuvieron una bronca enorme ayer.” (“They had a huge argument yesterday.”)


  • Meaning: Sandwich.
  • Origin: Shortened from “bocadillo.”
  • Usage: “Me voy a comer un bocata de jam√≥n.” (“I’m going to eat a ham sandwich.”)


  • Meaning: Beer.
  • Origin: Similar to “birra” in Italian.
  • Usage: “Vamos a tomar una birra despu√©s del trabajo.” (“Let’s grab a beer after work.”)


  • Meaning: Pastries, but in slang, it can refer to an attractive woman.
  • Origin: From “bollo” meaning “bun” or “pastry.”
  • Usage: “Esa chica es un bollo.” (“That girl is a hottie.”)


  • Meaning: Codfish, but in slang, it refers to electronic music.
  • Origin: The connection is not entirely clear, but it’s a popular term in nightlife.
  • Usage: “Nos vamos a una fiesta de bacalao esta noche.” (“We’re going to an electronic music party tonight.”)


  • Meaning: Sneakers or casual shoes.
  • Origin: Possibly influenced by the brand name “Puma” and other sneaker brands.
  • Usage: “Necesito unas bambas nuevas.” (“I need new sneakers.”)


  • Meaning: Vulture, but in slang, it refers to someone who is waiting for an opportunity to take advantage of a situation.
  • Origin: Direct translation from “vulture.”
  • Usage: “Est√° esperando como un buitre a que terminemos.” (“He’s waiting like a vulture for us to finish.”)

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  • Meaning: Job or work.
  • Origin: Uncertain, but it’s widely used in many Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Usage: “Estoy buscando chamba.” (“I’m looking for a job.”)


  • Meaning: Cool or awesome.
  • Origin: Mostly used in Mexico.
  • Usage: “¬°Esa m√ļsica est√° muy chida!” (“That music is really cool!”)


  • Meaning: Great or fantastic.
  • Origin: Used mainly in Venezuela, Colombia, and some parts of the Caribbean.
  • Usage: “¬°Esa fiesta estuvo ch√©vere!” (“That party was great!”)


  • Meaning: Pretty or cool. Can also mean cocky or arrogant.
  • Origin: From Spain, but also used in other parts of the Spanish-speaking world.
  • Usage: “Ese coche es muy chulo.” (“That car is really cool.”)


  • Meaning: Job or work.
  • Origin: Mainly used in Spain.
  • Usage: “Necesito encontrar un curro pronto.” (“I need to find a job soon.”)


  • Meaning: Friends or buddies.
  • Origin: Used predominantly in Mexico.
  • Usage: “Voy al cine con mis cuates.” (“I’m going to the movies with my buddies.”)


  • Meaning: To work.
  • Origin: Variation of “chamba” (job).
  • Usage: “He estado chambaleando todo el d√≠a.” (“I’ve been working all day.”)


  • Meaning: Check it out.
  • Origin: From “checar” meaning to check and used primarily in Mexico.
  • Usage: “¬°Ch√©calo, hay una oferta en esa tienda!” (“Check it out, there’s a sale in that store!”)


  • Meaning: Friend or pal.
  • Origin: Used mainly in Mexico.
  • Usage: “√Čl es mi cuate desde la primaria.” (“He’s been my pal since elementary school.”)


  • Meaning: A person who is a big fan or is starstruck.
  • Origin: Used in Argentina.
  • Usage: “Siempre se comporta como un cholulo cuando ve a celebridades.” (“He always acts starstruck when he sees celebrities.”)

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  • Meaning: Okay or go ahead.
  • Origin: Widely used in many Spanish-speaking countries, but especially associated with Argentina due to its frequent use in everyday conversations there.
  • Usage: “¬ŅQuieres salir a comer?” “¬°Dale!” (“Do you want to go out to eat?” “Okay!”)

Dar bola

  • Meaning: To pay attention to someone.
  • Origin: Used mainly in Argentina and Uruguay.
  • Usage: “No le des bola, solo quiere llamar la atenci√≥n.” (“Don’t pay attention to him, he just wants to get noticed.”)

De cajón

  • Meaning: Something obvious or clear.
  • Origin: Used in Spain and some Latin American countries.
  • Usage: “Es de caj√≥n que si no estudias, no aprobar√°s el examen.” (“It’s obvious that if you don’t study, you won’t pass the exam.”)


  • Meaning: Chaos, disorder or a wild party.
  • Origin: Primarily used in Mexico.
  • Usage: “La fiesta de anoche fue un desmadre total.” (“Last night’s party was total chaos.”)


  • Meaning: Boredom.
  • Origin: Mostly used in Colombia.
  • Usage: “Estoy en total desparche hoy.” (“I’m totally bored today.”)

De pinga

  • Meaning: Something awesome or, conversely, something terrible.
  • Origin: Used in Cuba.
  • Usage: “Esta fiesta est√° de pinga.” (“This party is awesome.”) or “Este d√≠a estuvo de pinga.” (“This day was terrible.”)


  • Meaning: Hard or tough, but also used to emphasize agreement or to say something is cool.
  • Origin: Used in several Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Usage: “Ese examen estuvo duro.” (“That exam was hard.”) or “¬°Esa canci√≥n est√° duro!” (“That song is cool!”)

Dar corte

  • Meaning: To feel embarrassed.
  • Origin: Used in Spain.
  • Usage: “Me da corte hablar en p√ļblico.” (“I feel embarrassed speaking in public.”)

Dejar plantado

  • Meaning: To stand someone up.
  • Origin: Used throughout the Spanish-speaking world.
  • Usage: “Me dej√≥ plantado en el restaurante.” (“She stood me up at the restaurant.”)


  • Meaning: A title of respect, similar to “Mr.” in English.
  • Origin: Used mainly in Spain but understood everywhere.
  • Usage: “Don Juan es el due√Īo de la tienda.” (“Mr. Juan is the owner of the store.”)

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Echar los perros

  • Meaning: To flirt or hit on someone.
  • Origin: Commonly used in Colombia.
  • Usage: “Juan le est√° echando los perros a Mar√≠a.” (“Juan is flirting with Mar√≠a.”)

Estar en las nubes

  • Meaning: To be daydreaming or not paying attention.
  • Origin: Widely used in many Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Usage: “¬ŅMe escuchas? Parece que est√°s en las nubes.” (“Are you listening? You seem to be daydreaming.”)

Estar pelado

  • Meaning: To be broke or out of money.
  • Origin: Popular in Colombia.
  • Usage: “No puedo ir al concierto, estoy pelado.” (“I can’t go to the concert, I’m broke.”)

Estar chido

  • Meaning: To be cool or nice.
  • Origin: Used primarily in Mexico.
  • Usage: “Esa pel√≠cula est√° muy chida.” (“That movie is really cool.”)

Echar una mano

  • Meaning: To lend a hand or help out.
  • Origin: Used across Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Usage: “Si necesitas ayuda, d√≠melo y te echo una mano.” (“If you need help, tell me and I’ll lend you a hand.”)

Estar al loro

  • Meaning: To be alert or stay informed.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Estate al loro de las noticias sobre el tema.” (“Stay informed about the news on the subject.”)


  • Meaning: To cram or study intensely, especially before exams.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Tengo que empollar todo el fin de semana para el examen del lunes.” (“I have to cram all weekend for Monday’s exam.”)

Echar un polvo

  • Meaning: To have sexual intercourse.
  • Origin: Widely recognized in Spain.
  • Usage: Not typically used in casual conversations due to its explicit nature.

Estar piripi

  • Meaning: To be tipsy or slightly drunk.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Despu√©s de tres cervezas, ya estaba piripi.” (“After three beers, he was already tipsy.”)


  • Meaning: To wear or use something for the first time.
  • Origin: Used in many Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Usage: “Voy a estrenar mi vestido nuevo esta noche.” (“I’m going to wear my new dress for the first time tonight.”)

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  • Meaning: It can mean “to wash” in terms of dishes, but colloquially it can also mean “to bother” or “annoy”.
  • Origin: Common across many Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Usage: “No me friegues m√°s con eso.” (“Don’t bother me anymore with that.”)


  • Meaning: John Doe, used to refer to an unnamed or generic person.
  • Origin: Widely used in many Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Usage: “Fulano, Mengano y Zutano” (Equivalent to saying “Tom, Dick, and Harry” in English.)


  • Meaning: A party or celebration.
  • Origin: Popular in Ecuador and some other countries.
  • Usage: “El fin de semana hay una farra en mi casa.” (“There’s a party at my house this weekend.”)


  • Meaning: Boring or dull.
  • Origin: Chile.
  • Usage: “Esa pel√≠cula fue muy fome.” (“That movie was very boring.”)


  • Meaning: Referring to someone’s look or style, usually positive.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “¬°Buena facha!” (“Looking good!”)


  • Meaning: To be amazed or astonished.
  • Origin: Spain, influenced by the English word “flip”.
  • Usage: “Flip√© cuando vi el resultado del partido.” (“I was amazed when I saw the match result.”)


  • Meaning: To show off or brag about something.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Siempre farda de su nuevo coche.” (“He’s always showing off his new car.”)


  • Meaning: Refers to a party, especially an informal or spontaneous one.
  • Origin: Panama.
  • Usage: “Vamos al fincho en la casa de Luis.” (“Let’s go to the party at Luis’s house.”)


  • Meaning: Laziness or a lack of will to do something.
  • Origin: Argentina.
  • Usage: “Hoy tengo una fiaca tremenda.” (“I feel extremely lazy today.”)


  • Meaning: Refers to something that’s easy or not complicated.
  • Origin: Argentina.
  • Usage: “Ese examen fue fruta.” (“That exam was easy.”)

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  • Meaning: Cool or awesome.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “¬°Esa camiseta es muy guay!” (“That t-shirt is really cool!”)

G√ľey / Wey

  • Meaning: Dude or bro.
  • Origin: Mexico.
  • Usage: “¬ŅQu√© onda, wey?” (“What’s up, dude?”)


  • Meaning: Baby or child in some countries, but a bus in others.
  • Origin: Used in countries like Ecuador to mean “baby”, but in countries like Chile to mean “bus”.
  • Usage: “La guagua est√° llorando.” (“The baby is crying.”) OR “Tom√© la guagua para ir al centro.” (“I took the bus to go downtown.”)


  • Meaning: A hundred (usually referring to currency).
  • Origin: Argentina and Chile.
  • Usage: “Me cost√≥ dos gambas.” (“It cost me two hundred.”)


  • Meaning: Literally means “cap”, but slang for freeloading.
  • Origin: Argentina.
  • Usage: “Siempre viene de gorra, nunca trae nada.” (“He always comes freeloading, he never brings anything.”)


  • Meaning: Girlfriend.
  • Origin: Paraguay.
  • Usage: “Voy a salir con mi grillo.” (“I’m going out with my girlfriend.”)


  • Meaning: Native person or someone of indigenous origin.
  • Origin: Chile.
  • Usage: “El guanaco vive en la cordillera.” (“The native lives in the mountain range.”)


  • Meaning: Money.
  • Origin: Argentina and Uruguay.
  • Usage: “No tengo guita.” (“I don’t have money.”)


  • Meaning: Fool or naive person.
  • Origin: Argentina.
  • Usage: “No seas gil.” (“Don’t be a fool.”)

Gallo / Galla

  • Meaning: Guy or girl.
  • Origin: Chile.
  • Usage: “El gallo que viste ayer es mi primo.” (“The guy you saw yesterday is my cousin.”)

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  • Meaning: A lot.
  • Origin: Widespread use across Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Usage: “Hace harto calor hoy.” (“It’s very hot today.”)


  • Meaning: Literally means “egg”, but slang for testicle. Also used in phrases to mean “a bit” or “little value”.
  • Origin: Widespread use, though meanings vary by country.
  • Usage: “No me importa un huevo.” (“I don’t give a damn.”)

Hacerse el loco

  • Meaning: To play dumb.
  • Origin: Widespread use across Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Usage: “Se hizo el loco cuando le pregunt√© sobre el dinero.” (“He played dumb when I asked him about the money.”)


  • Meaning: Hard job or task.
  • Origin: Mexico.
  • Usage: “Ese trabajo es un hueso.” (“That job is tough.”)

Hacer la cobra

  • Meaning: To dodge a kiss.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Intent√≥ besarme, pero le hice la cobra.” (“He tried to kiss me, but I dodged it.”)

Huevón / Huevona

  • Meaning: Dude, lazy person.
  • Origin: Countries like Chile, Colombia, and Ecuador, but the meaning can slightly differ.
  • Usage: “¬°Oye, huev√≥n, ven ac√°!” (“Hey dude, come here!”) OR “Eres tan huevona.” (“You are so lazy.”)


  • Meaning: Expression of surprise or encouragement, similar to “come on” or “go ahead”.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “¬°Hala, no sab√≠a que pod√≠as hacer eso!” (“Wow, I didn’t know you could do that!”)


  • Meaning: Hashish or cannabis resin.
  • Origin: Widespread use across Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Usage: “No tengo hach√≠s.” (“I don’t have hash.”)


  • Meaning: Stealth, sneaky action.
  • Origin: Widespread use.
  • Usage: “Lo hizo a hurto de todos.” (“He did it stealthily from everyone.”)


  • Meaning: Lazy.
  • Origin: Mexico.
  • Usage: “Mi hermano es muy harag√°n.” (“My brother is very lazy.”)

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Irse de pinta

  • Meaning: To skip school or work.
  • Origin: Mexico.
  • Usage: “Se fue de pinta y no fue a la escuela.” (“He skipped and didn’t go to school.”)

Irse de farra

  • Meaning: Go out partying.
  • Origin: Spain, and some Latin American countries.
  • Usage: “Este fin de semana nos vamos de farra.” (“This weekend we’re going out partying.”)


  • Meaning: Same here or likewise.
  • Origin: Borrowed from Latin.
  • Usage: “Me encanta el helado – Idem.” (“I love ice cream – Same here.”)

Ir a pi√Ī√≥n

  • Meaning: Go at full throttle, to go fast.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Fue a pi√Ī√≥n toda la carrera.” (“He went full throttle the entire race.”)


  • Meaning: Useless, but often used colloquially between friends as a playful tease.
  • Origin: Widespread use across Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Usage: “¬°Eres un in√ļtil!” (“You’re useless!”) ‚Äď meant playfully.


  • Meaning: Used in Spain, especially in Madrid, referring to a crosswalk.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Cruza por la isla para no tener problemas.” (“Cross at the crosswalk so you won’t have problems.”)

√ćdem de √≠dem

  • Meaning: Emphasizes the “same here” expression.
  • Origin: Borrowed from Latin.
  • Usage: “A m√≠ tambi√©n me gusta ese grupo – √ćdem de √≠dem.” (“I also like that band – Same exact here.”)


  • Meaning: Idiot. It can be offensive but also playful between friends.
  • Origin: Widespread use.
  • Usage: “¬°No seas imb√©cil!” (“Don’t be an idiot!”)

Irse al garete

  • Meaning: Go down the drain, fall apart.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Todo se fue al garete.” (“Everything went down the drain.”)

Irse la olla

  • Meaning: Lose one’s mind or go crazy.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Se le fue la olla y empez√≥ a gritar.” (“He lost his mind and started yelling.”)

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  • Meaning: To eat. It’s a colloquial way to say “comer.”
  • Origin: Spain, especially in Madrid.
  • Usage: “Vamos a jamar algo en esa taquer√≠a.” (“Let’s eat something at that taco place.”)


  • Meaning: Face, often used in a colloquial or informal manner. Also, it can mean “cheek” or “nerve” when referring to someone’s audacity.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “¬°Qu√© jeta tienes!” (“What nerve you have!”)


  • Meaning: Damn it! or to annoy. It’s a versatile word but can be strong in some contexts.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “¬°Joder, me he dejado el m√≥vil en casa!” (“Damn it, I left my phone at home!”)


  • Meaning: A playful or jocular way to say “young” or “youth.”
  • Origin: Spain, from the word “joven.”
  • Usage: “Ese joben tiene talento.” (“That young lad has talent.”)


  • Meaning: To hang out.
  • Origin: Puerto Rico.
  • Usage: “Vamos a janguear en el parque.” (“Let’s hang out at the park.”)


  • Meaning: Used in Chile, it refers to someone who doesn’t drink alcohol at parties.
  • Origin: Chile.
  • Usage: “No quiero ser la jirafa de la fiesta.” (“I don’t want to be the non-drinker at the party.”)


  • Meaning: Lazy, particularly in the context of someone who doesn’t like to work.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “No seas jeta y ayuda con la limpieza.” (“Don’t be lazy and help with the cleaning.”)


  • Meaning: In some regions, it means to eat, but it can also mean to pull or to snort drugs, depending on context.
  • Origin: Mexico for eating, widespread for pulling.
  • Usage: “Voy a jalar tacos.” (“I’m going to eat tacos.”)


  • Meaning: Girlfriend or a romantic interest.
  • Origin: Used in some parts of Latin America.
  • Usage: “Mi julieta me dej√≥ un mensaje.” (“My girlfriend left me a message.”)


  • Meaning: Cool or great.
  • Origin: Dominican Republic.
  • Usage: “¬°Esa canci√≥n es muy jevi!” (“That song is really cool!”)

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  • Meaning: Streetwise, someone savvy about urban life.
  • Origin: Combination of “calle” (street) and the English letter ‘K’.
  • Usage: “Juan es muy k-llejero, sabe moverse por la ciudad.” (“Juan is very streetwise, he knows how to move around the city.”)

Kbron (Cabron)

  • Meaning: Buddy, friend. However, it can also be a derogatory term, meaning idiot or jerk, depending on context.
  • Origin: Widespread in Latin America, derived from “cabra” meaning goat.
  • Usage: “¬°Qu√© onda, kbron!” (“What’s up, buddy!”)


  • Meaning: Bad luck, or an unfortunate event.
  • Origin: Puerto Rico, derived from “qu√© feo” meaning “how ugly.”
  • Usage: “Perd√≠ mi billetera, ¬°qu√© k-fe!” (“I lost my wallet, such bad luck!”)

K-chondo (Cachondo)

  • Meaning: Playful, funny, or sometimes “horny.”
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Ese chiste estuvo muy k-chondo.” (“That joke was very funny.”)


  • Meaning: A term used to refer to a high-quality type of marijuana.
  • Origin: Colombia.
  • Usage: “Tiene krippy para vender.” (“He has krippy to sell.”)


  • Meaning: A little weight or kilogram. Often used to talk about weight casually.
  • Origin: Latin America, from “kilo.”
  • Usage: “Perd√≠ unos kilitos este mes.” (“I lost a few kilograms this month.”)

King Kong

  • Meaning: In Peru, it’s a sweet made of cookies, pineapple sweet, and “manjar blanco” (a kind of milk caramel).
  • Origin: Peru.
  • Usage: “Me compr√© un King Kong en la dulcer√≠a.” (“I bought a King Kong at the candy store.”)

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  • Meaning: To flirt or to hook up with someone.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Juan fue a la discoteca a ligar.” (“Juan went to the nightclub to flirt.”)


  • Meaning: To work.
  • Origin: Argentina, derived from the Italian “lavorare” which means “to work”.
  • Usage: “Estoy cansado de laburar todo el d√≠a.” (“I’m tired of working all day.”)


  • Meaning: It means “tin” literally but can also mean “bother” or “nuisance”.
  • Origin: Widespread in Latin America.
  • Usage: “Ese chico me da lata.” (“That guy bothers me.”)


  • Meaning: To have a snack or light meal.
  • Origin: Mexico, possibly from the English “lunch”.
  • Usage: “Vamos a lanchar algo.” (“Let’s have a snack.”)


  • Meaning: Crazy. It can also be used colloquially to refer to a person, like “dude” or “guy”.
  • Origin: Widespread in Latin America.
  • Usage: “¬°Oye, loco! ¬ŅC√≥mo est√°s?” (“Hey, dude! How are you?”)


  • Meaning: A term for money, specifically 1,000 of something (like 1,000 pesos).
  • Origin: Various Latin American countries.
  • Usage: “Ese tel√©fono me cost√≥ una luca.” (“That phone cost me a thousand [currency].”)


  • Meaning: A steak sandwich.
  • Origin: Argentina.
  • Usage: “Voy a pedir un lomito con todo.” (“I’m going to order a steak sandwich with everything on it.”)

Llenar el tanque

  • Meaning: Literally “to fill the tank”, it means to eat a lot or to fill oneself up with food.
  • Origin: Widespread in Latin America.
  • Usage: “Despu√©s de esa comida, llen√© el tanque.” (“After that meal, I filled the tank [I ate a lot].”)


  • Meaning: Crybaby or whiner.
  • Origin: Widespread in Latin America.
  • Usage: “No seas llor√≥n y sigue adelante.” (“Don’t be a crybaby and keep going.”)

Levantar polvo

  • Meaning: Literally “to raise dust”, it means to go fast.
  • Origin: Mexico.
  • Usage: “Ese coche levanta polvo en la carretera.” (“That car goes really fast on the road.”)

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  • Meaning: To like or to dig something.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Me mola esa canci√≥n.” (“I dig that song.”)


  • Meaning: Kid, lad, or youngster.
  • Origin: Mexico.
  • Usage: “Ese morro es muy inteligente.” (“That kid is very smart.”)


  • Meaning: A woman or girl.
  • Origin: Argentina.
  • Usage: “Esa mina es muy bonita.” (“That girl is very pretty.”)


  • Meaning: Manly or masculine. It’s also a colloquial way to refer to a male.
  • Origin: Widespread in Latin America.
  • Usage: “¬°Oye, macho! ¬ŅQu√© tal?” (“Hey, man! How’s it going?”)


  • Meaning: To scrounge or to get something for free.
  • Origin: Spain, possibly influenced by Romani.
  • Usage: “Siempre intenta mangar cigarrillos.” (“He always tries to scrounge cigarettes.”)

Marcar paquete

  • Meaning: To show off or to flaunt.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “No te gusta marcar paquete con tu nuevo coche?” (“Don’t you like to show off with your new car?”)

Meter la pata

  • Meaning: To mess up or put one’s foot in one’s mouth.
  • Origin: Widespread in Latin America.
  • Usage: “Realmente met√≠ la pata en la reuni√≥n.” (“I really messed up in the meeting.”)


  • Meaning: A contraction of “mi hijo/a” meaning “my son/daughter”, but is colloquially used as “dear” or “darling”.
  • Origin: Widespread in Latin America.
  • Usage: “Mijo, ¬Ņquieres m√°s sopa?” (“Darling, do you want more soup?”)


  • Meaning: Situation, matter, or movement. In Spain, it can refer to a cultural movement.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “No quiero meterme en esa movida.” (“I don’t want to get involved in that situation.”)


  • Meaning: Cute or lovely. It also means “monkey”.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Tu vestido es muy mono.” (“Your dress is very cute.”)

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  • Meaning: Vulgar or unsophisticated person. Can be offensive.
  • Origin: Mexico.
  • Usage: “No seas naco.” (“Don’t be vulgar.”)

No mames

  • Meaning: Expresses disbelief or surprise. Can be compared to “No way!” in English.
  • Origin: Mexico.
  • Usage: “No mames, ¬Ņganaste la loter√≠a?” (“No way, you won the lottery?”)

Ni chicha ni limonada

  • Meaning: Neither one thing nor another; it’s used to say something is not clear or is mediocre.
  • Origin: Widespread in Latin America.
  • Usage: “Esa pel√≠cula es ni chicha ni limonada.” (“That movie is neither here nor there.”)


  • Meaning: Something extra given for free, especially after a purchase. Similar to a lagniappe in English.
  • Origin: Andean countries.
  • Usage: “¬ŅMe das una √Īapa?” (“Can you give me something extra?”)

Ni fu ni fa

  • Meaning: Indifferent or unimpressed.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Me siento ni fu ni fa sobre ese tema.” (“I feel indifferent about that topic.”)


  • Meaning: A term of endearment, similar to “baby” or “honey.”
  • Origin: Widespread in Latin America, especially the Caribbean.
  • Usage: “Nena, ven aqu√≠.” (“Baby, come here.”)

No dar pie con bola

  • Meaning: Not getting anything right or continually making mistakes.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Hoy no doy pie con bola, todo me sale mal.” (“Today I can’t get anything right, everything is going wrong for me.”)

No hay tu tía

  • Meaning: There’s no solution or remedy. It’s the way it is.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “No hay tu t√≠a, esto no va a cambiar.” (“There’s no remedy, this is not going to change.”)


  • Meaning: Rookie, newcomer, or beginner.
  • Origin: Widespread in Latin America.
  • Usage: “Es el novato del equipo.” (“He’s the rookie on the team.”)


  • Meaning: Besides meaning boyfriend/girlfriend, it can also colloquially mean a close friend in some contexts.
  • Origin: Widespread in Latin America.
  • Usage: “Sal√≠ con mis novias a la discoteca.” (“I went out with my girlfriends to the nightclub.”)

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  • Meaning: Vibe or wave. Often used to inquire about what’s going on or what someone’s deal is.
  • Origin: Widespread in Latin America.
  • Usage: “¬ŅCu√°l es tu onda?” (“What’s your vibe/deal?”)


  • Meaning: Literally means “eye”, but used as a warning to “watch out” or “be careful”.
  • Origin: Widespread in Latin America.
  • Usage: “¬°Ojo con ese perro!” (“Watch out for that dog!”)


  • Meaning: Means “ear”, but can be used in kitchens to acknowledge you heard something, similar to “heard” in English kitchens.
  • Origin: Mexico.
  • Usage: “Necesito dos tacos al pastor – ¬°O√≠do!” (“I need two pastor tacos – Heard!”)


  • Meaning: Expresses agreement, surprise, or encouragement. It can be compared to “Alright!”, “Okay!”, or “Come on!” in English.
  • Origin: Mexico.
  • Usage: “√ďrale, ¬°vamos a hacerlo!” (“Alright, let’s do it!”)


  • Meaning: Literally “bear”, but slang for an embarrassing situation.
  • Origin: Mexico.
  • Usage: “Hacer el oso” (“To embarrass oneself.”)

Otro rollo

  • Meaning: Another thing or a different situation.
  • Origin: Widespread in Latin America.
  • Usage: “Esa es otra onda.” (“That’s a different thing/situation.”)


  • Meaning: Overalls or dungarees.
  • Origin: Influenced by English but used in various Latin American countries.
  • Usage: “Voy a usar mi overol para pintar.” (“I’m going to wear my overalls to paint.”)


  • Meaning: It can mean stingy, mean, or bad luck. However, it can be vulgar in some contexts.
  • Origin: Argentina.
  • Usage: “Tuviste un d√≠a ojete.” (“You had a bad luck day.”)


  • Meaning: A poetic or formal term for a kiss.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: Rarely used in daily conversation, more often found in literature.


  • Meaning: Did you hear? Often used to grab someone’s attention or check if they are listening.
  • Origin: Widespread in Latin America.
  • Usage: “O√≠ste, necesito contarte algo.” (“Listen, I need to tell you something.”)

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  • Meaning: Friend or buddy.
  • Origin: Venezuela.
  • Usage: “Ese es mi pana.” (“That’s my buddy.”)


  • Meaning: A favor or help.
  • Origin: Mexico.
  • Usage: “¬ŅMe haces un paro?” (“Can you do me a favor?”)


  • Meaning: Leg or foot, but also used colloquially for “friend” in some countries.
  • Origin: Widespread in Latin America.
  • Usage: “Voy a salir con mis patas.” (“I’m going out with my friends.”)


  • Meaning: Turkey (the bird), but also used as slang for “a young man” in Spain.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Ese pavo no sabe lo que dice.” (“That guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”)


  • Meaning: Party or gathering where alcohol is consumed, can also mean being drunk.
  • Origin: Mexico.
  • Usage: “Tuvimos una peda anoche.” (“We had a party last night.”)


  • Meaning: Kid or young person.
  • Origin: Argentina.
  • Usage: “Ese pibe es muy listo.” (“That kid is very clever.”)


  • Meaning: Informal soccer/football match among friends.
  • Origin: Chile.
  • Usage: “Vamos a jugar una pichanga en el parque.” (“Let’s play a casual soccer match in the park.”)


  • Meaning: Battery, but can also be used to mean “a lot” in the Dominican Republic.
  • Origin: Dominican Republic.
  • Usage: “Hace pila que no te veo.” (“I haven’t seen you in a long time.”)


  • Meaning: It’s a somewhat vulgar way to emphasize dislike or disdain towards something or someone, equivalent to “damn” or “bloody” in English.
  • Origin: Mexico.
  • Usage: “Pinche perro me mordi√≥.” (“That damn dog bit me.”)


  • Meaning: Money.
  • Origin: Guatemala.
  • Usage: “No tengo pisto.” (“I don’t have money.”)


  • Meaning: To date someone.
  • Origin: Chile.
  • Usage: “Est√°n pololeando desde hace meses.” (“They have been dating for months.”)

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  • Meaning: Short for “quedarse” meaning to stay or remain. Used colloquially to mean a gathering or hangout.
  • Origin: Various countries.
  • Usage: “Vamos a hacer un quedo en mi casa.” (“Let’s have a hangout at my house.”)

Quitar el sue√Īo

  • Meaning: Literally “take away the sleep,” but means to cause worry or stress.
  • Origin: Common in multiple Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Usage: “Esta situaci√≥n me quita el sue√Īo.” (“This situation keeps me awake at night.”)


  • Meaning: Literally means “to burn” but can be slang for revealing someone’s secret.
  • Origin: Multiple Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Usage: “¬°No me quemes!” (“Don’t spill my secret!”)


  • Meaning: Literally “cheese” but can refer to someone being a third wheel in romantic situations.
  • Origin: Colombia.
  • Usage: “No quiero ser el queso en la cita de Juan y Mar√≠a.” (“I don’t want to be the third wheel on Juan and Maria’s date.”)


  • Meaning: Mess or chaotic situation.
  • Origin: Argentina.
  • Usage: “Esto es un quilombo.” (“This is a mess.”)

Quitar la camisa

  • Meaning: Literally “take off the shirt,” but used to mean to strive or make an effort.
  • Origin: Common in multiple Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Usage: “Se quit√≥ la camisa para ayudarnos.” (“He went out of his way to help us.”)

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  • Meaning: Chat or talk; also means a situation or issue. Can also mean a kind of vibe or aura a person gives off.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “¬ŅQu√© rollo tiene con ella?” (“What’s going on with her?”)


  • Meaning: To party or to go out dancing.
  • Origin: Colombia, Venezuela.
  • Usage: “Esta noche vamos a rumbear.” (“Tonight we’re going to party.”)


  • Meaning: Literally “rat”, but used to describe someone sneaky or untrustworthy.
  • Origin: Multiple Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Usage: “No conf√≠es en √©l, es una rata.” (“Don’t trust him; he’s a rat.”)


  • Meaning: Old or worn out. Can also be used to describe an older person, often in a playful or teasing way.
  • Origin: Mexico.
  • Usage: “Esa camisa ya est√° muy ruca.” (“That shirt is really worn out.”)


  • Meaning: Mess, chaos, or a joke.
  • Origin: Central America, especially El Salvador.
  • Usage: “¬°Qu√© relajo hicieron en la fiesta!” (“What a mess they made at the party!”)


  • Meaning: Literally “to split”, but in slang, it means to gossip or talk behind someone’s back.
  • Origin: Multiple Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Usage: “No me gusta rajar de los dem√°s.” (“I don’t like to gossip about others.”)


  • Meaning: To obsess or overthink about something.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “No te rayes con ese tema.” (“Don’t obsess over that issue.”)


  • Meaning: Song.
  • Origin: Mexico.
  • Usage: “Esa rola es mi favorita.” (“That song is my favorite.”)


  • Meaning: Related to the countryside or rural life. Also, a type of music genre in Mexico.
  • Origin: Mexico.
  • Usage: “Me gusta la m√ļsica ranchera.” (“I like ranchero music.”)


  • Meaning: Literally “to scrape,” but in slang, it means to just pass or barely make it.
  • Origin: Multiple Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Usage: “Rasp√© el examen por un punto.” (“I just passed the exam by one point.”)

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  • Meaning: Unlucky.
  • Origin: Mexico.
  • Usage: “Eres bien salado, siempre te pasa algo malo.” (“You’re so unlucky, something bad always happens to you.”)


  • Meaning: Snitch, informant.
  • Origin: Multiple Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Usage: “No seas sapo y no le digas a la profesora.” (“Don’t be a snitch and don’t tell the teacher.”)


  • Meaning: Cocky, overconfident.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Act√ļa muy sobrado, pero no sabe nada.” (“He acts very cocky, but he knows nothing.”)


  • Meaning: Leftovers. Can also refer to something extra or someone who is not needed in a particular situation.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “En esta reuni√≥n hay muchas sobras; no todos son necesarios aqu√≠.” (“There are many extras in this meeting; not everyone is needed here.”)

Soltar prenda

  • Meaning: To give a hint or clue.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “No quiero soltar prenda sobre la sorpresa.” (“I don’t want to give a hint about the surprise.”)


  • Meaning: Altitude sickness.
  • Origin: Andean countries.
  • Usage: “Cuando llegu√© a Cusco, me dio soroche.” (“When I arrived in Cusco, I got altitude sickness.”)


  • Meaning: A blunder, mistake, or embarrassment.
  • Origin: Colombia.
  • Usage: “Hacer un suate” (“To make a blunder”)


  • Meaning: Great, top-notch, the best.
  • Origin: Argentina.
  • Usage: “Es de sumo importancia.” (“It’s of great importance.”)


  • Meaning: Snob, upper-class person.
  • Origin: Venezuela.
  • Usage: “No me gusta salir con sifrinos.” (“I don’t like going out with snobs.”)

Ser un hueso

  • Meaning: To be tough, hard to deal with.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Ese profesor es un hueso.” (“That teacher is tough.”)

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  • Meaning: Job or work.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Tengo que ir al tajo temprano ma√Īana.” (“I have to go to work early tomorrow.”)


  • Meaning: Black coffee without milk.
  • Origin: Colombia.
  • Usage: “¬ŅQuieres un tinto?” (“Do you want a black coffee?”)

Tomar el pelo

  • Meaning: To pull someone’s leg, to tease.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “¬°No me tomes el pelo!” (“Don’t pull my leg!”)


  • Meaning: Big problem or obstacle.
  • Origin: Venezuela.
  • Usage: “Tengo una tranca con ese proyecto.” (“I have a big problem with that project.”)


  • Meaning: Dude, mate. Used as an informal way to address a friend.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “¬°Hola, tronco! ¬ŅC√≥mo est√°s?” (“Hey, dude! How are you?”)


  • Meaning: A person’s unique swagger or style of walking.
  • Origin: Caribbean countries, especially Cuba and Puerto Rico.
  • Usage: “Esa chica tiene un tumbao especial.” (“That girl has a unique swagger.”)


  • Meaning: Shoddy, of poor quality.
  • Origin: Argentina.
  • Usage: “Ese restaurante es muy turro.” (“That restaurant is very shoddy.”)


  • Meaning: Guy, dude, mate. Used colloquially to address a person informally.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “¬ŅQu√© tal, t√≠o?” (“What’s up, dude?”)

Tener mala leche

  • Meaning: To have bad luck or to be in a bad mood.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Hoy tiene mala leche.” (“He’s in a bad mood today.”)


  • Meaning: Burnt out, exhausted.
  • Origin: Argentina.
  • Usage: “Despu√©s del trabajo, estoy tostado.” (“After work, I’m burnt out.”)

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  • Meaning: Literally “nail”, but used colloquially to refer to a close friend.
  • Origin: Dominican Republic.
  • Usage: “Ella es mi u√Īa y mugre.” (“She’s my close friend.”)

Una birra

  • Meaning: A beer.
  • Origin: Spain, influenced by English.
  • Usage: “Voy a tomar una birra con los amigos.” (“I’m going to have a beer with friends.”)

Una lana

  • Meaning: Money.
  • Origin: Mexico.
  • Usage: “¬ŅTienes una lana que me prestes?” (“Do you have some money you can lend me?”)

Una pasta

  • Meaning: A lot of money.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Ese coche debe haber costado una pasta.” (“That car must have cost a lot of money.”)

Una pava

  • Meaning: A girl or young woman.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “La pava esa es mi prima.” (“That girl is my cousin.”)

Una y carne

  • Meaning: Two people who are very close, inseparable.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Esas dos son una y carne, siempre est√°n juntas.” (“Those two are inseparable, they’re always together.”)


  • Meaning: To bribe.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Dicen que lo untaron para que no dijera nada.” (“They say he was bribed so he wouldn’t say anything.”)


  • Meaning: An exclamation similar to “Wow!” or “Oh my!”
  • Origin: Argentina.
  • Usage: “¬°Upa! Eso fue inesperado.” (“Wow! That was unexpected.”)

Usar el coco

  • Meaning: To use your brain, think hard.
  • Origin: Widespread across Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Usage: “Usa el coco y resuelve el problema.” (“Use your brain and solve the problem.”)


  • Meaning: “You all” or “y’all”. In some regions, “ustedes” is used in both formal and informal situations instead of “vosotros”.
  • Origin: Widespread across Spanish-speaking countries, especially in Latin America.
  • Usage: “¬ŅUstedes vienen a la fiesta?” (“Are you all coming to the party?”)

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  • Meaning: Thing, stuff, or matter. A very versatile word that can refer to almost anything.
  • Origin: Popular in Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Venezuela.
  • Usage: “¬ŅQu√© es esa vaina?” (“What is that thing?”)


  • Meaning: Okay, all right.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: “Vale, nos vemos ma√Īana.” (“Okay, see you tomorrow.”)


  • Meaning: Guy or dude.
  • Origin: Mexico.
  • Usage: “Ese vato es mi hermano.” (“That dude is my brother.”)


  • Meaning: Vulgar slang for female genitals.
  • Origin: Spain.
  • Usage: Not typically used in polite conversation.


  • Meaning: Old woman, but can also refer to one’s girlfriend.
  • Origin: Various Latin American countries.
  • Usage: “Mi vieja no quiere que salga esta noche.” (“My girlfriend doesn’t want me to go out tonight.”)


  • Meaning: A word used to describe something that is cool or awesome.
  • Origin: Andalusia, Spain.
  • Usage: “Esa camisa est√° viruji.” (“That shirt is cool.”)


  • Meaning: High, usually due to drugs.
  • Origin: Mexico.
  • Usage: “Juan est√° bien volado.” (“Juan is really high.”)


  • Meaning: To get high.
  • Origin: Chile.
  • Usage: “Se vol√≥ con ese cigarro.” (“He got high with that joint.”)


  • Meaning: The act of using “vos” instead of “t√ļ” as a second person singular pronoun.
  • Origin: Common in Argentina, Uruguay, and parts of Central America.
  • Usage: “En Argentina usamos el voseo.” (“In Argentina, we use voseo.”)


  • Meaning: Thing or stuff, used in a very general way.
  • Origin: Dominican Republic, Colombia, Venezuela.
  • Usage: “Dame esa vaina.” (“Give me that thing.”)

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  • Meaning: Security guard or watchman.
  • Origin: Borrowed from English “watchman” and adapted phonetically to Spanish, common in several Latin American countries.
  • Usage: “El wachiman de la tienda nos detuvo.” (“The store’s security guard stopped us.”)


  • Meaning: A term used to describe a person who follows the “wachiturro” urban style, characterized by a certain type of clothing and behavior.
  • Origin: Argentina.
  • Usage: “Los wachiturros tienen un estilo de baile propio.” (“The wachiturros have their own dance style.”)


  • Meaning: Wi-Fi.
  • Origin: Phonetic adaptation of the English term “Wi-Fi.”
  • Usage: “¬ŅTienen wai-fai en este caf√©?” (“Do you have Wi-Fi in this cafe?”)


  • Meaning: Toilet.
  • Origin: Borrowed from English “water” (referring to water closet) and adapted to Spanish pronunciation.
  • Usage: “Voy al w√°ter.” (“I’m going to the toilet.”)


  • Meaning: Winch (a hauling or lifting device).
  • Origin: Borrowed from the English word “winch.”
  • Usage: “Necesitamos una wincha para mover este objeto pesado.” (“We need a winch to move this heavy object.”)

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  • Meaning: Check, in the context of the game of chess.
  • Origin: Borrowed from the Portuguese word “xeque”, meaning check in chess.
  • Usage: “¬°Xeque mate!” (“Checkmate!”)


  • Meaning: Xylophone.
  • Origin: Borrowed from the Greek word “x√Ĺlon” (wood) and “phŇćnńď” (voice).
  • Usage: “Mi hijo quiere un xil√≥fono para su cumplea√Īos.” (“My son wants a xylophone for his birthday.”)


  • Meaning: Short for Xoloitzcuintli, a breed of hairless dog native to Mexico.
  • Origin: From the Nahuatl word “xolotl” (god) and “itzcuintli” (dog).
  • Usage: “El xolo es considerado uno de los perros m√°s antiguos del mundo.” (“The Xolo is considered one of the oldest dog breeds in the world.”)


  • Meaning: Hugs and kisses, used at the end of letters or messages.
  • Origin: Imitative of the sound of a kiss.
  • Usage: “Te veo ma√Īana. ¬°Xoxo!” (“See you tomorrow. Xoxo!”)


  • Meaning: Shampoo.
  • Origin: Borrowed from the English word “shampoo”.
  • Usage: “Se me acab√≥ el xamp√ļ, debo comprar m√°s.” (“I ran out of shampoo; I need to buy more.”)

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  • Meaning: Yacht.
  • Origin: Borrowed from the English word “yacht”.
  • Usage: “El empresario tiene un yate en el puerto.” (“The businessman has a yacht in the harbor.”)


  • Meaning: Yolk of an egg; also the fleshy part of the fingers.
  • Origin: From the Old Spanish word “gema”, which means bud or jewel.
  • Usage: “Me gusta la clara del huevo m√°s que la yema.” (“I like the egg white more than the yolk.”)


  • Meaning: Herb; commonly used in the context of “yerba mate”, a popular drink in South America.
  • Origin: From the Latin word “herba”.
  • Usage: “Voy a preparar un mate. ¬ŅQuieres?” (“I’m going to prepare some mate. Want some?”)


  • Meaning: Plaster, as in a cast for broken bones.
  • Origin: From the Latin word “gypsum”.
  • Usage: “Despu√©s del accidente, estuvo con yeso en la pierna por dos meses.” (“After the accident, he had a plaster cast on his leg for two months.”)


  • Meaning: Gymkhana, a type of event with various games and activities, often used for team building.
  • Origin: Borrowed from the English word “gymkhana”.
  • Usage: “El equipo de recursos humanos organiz√≥ una yincana para integrar a los empleados nuevos.” (“The HR team organized a gymkhana to integrate the new employees.”)


  • Meaning: Anvil, a block with a hard surface upon which another object is struck.
  • Origin: From the Latin word “incus”.
  • Usage: “El herrero forj√≥ la espada en el yunque.” (“The blacksmith forged the sword on the anvil.”)


  • Meaning: Yo-yo, a toy that goes up and down a string.
  • Origin: Possibly onomatopoeic, imitating the motion.
  • Usage: “Mi abuelo sol√≠a hacer trucos con el yoyo.” (“My grandfather used to do tricks with the yo-yo.”)

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  • Meaning: To escape or get out of a situation.
  • Origin: Possibly from Arabic origin, related to the idea of release or deliverance.
  • Usage: “Pude zafar del compromiso al que no quer√≠a ir.” (“I managed to get out of the commitment I didn’t want to go to.”)


  • Meaning: Flattering, someone who uses sweet words or caresses excessively.
  • Origin: Likely from Andalusian Arabic.
  • Usage: “No te dejes enga√Īar por sus palabras zalameras.” (“Don’t be fooled by his flattering words.”)


  • Meaning: To set sail or depart, often used for ships but can also be used metaphorically.
  • Origin: Possibly from the word “zarpa”, which means claw or paw in Spanish.
  • Usage: “El barco zarp√≥ al amanecer.” (“The ship set sail at dawn.”)


  • Meaning: A term used to denote a sharp and effective response, like a “burn” or “gotcha” moment.
  • Origin: Onomatopoeic, representing the sound of a slap or quick action.
  • Usage: “¬°Zasca! Le dio una respuesta que no esperaba.” (“Boom! She gave him a response he wasn’t expecting.”)


  • Meaning: Zone or area.
  • Origin: From the Latin word “zona”.
  • Usage: “La zona comercial est√° llena de tiendas y restaurantes.” (“The commercial zone is full of shops and restaurants.”)


  • Meaning: To hit or smack, especially with some force.
  • Origin: Onomatopoeic, imitating the sound of a hit.
  • Usage: “El bal√≥n le zumb√≥ en la cabeza.” (“The ball smacked him in the head.”)


  • Meaning: Equivalent to “so-and-so” in English, referring to an unspecified person.
  • Origin: From old Spanish, perhaps a combination of words.
  • Usage: “Zutano y Mengano siempre est√°n discutiendo.” (“So-and-so and what’s-his-name are always arguing.”)


  • Meaning: A dive or a plunge, typically into water.
  • Origin: From the verb “zambullir” meaning to dive or plunge.
  • Usage: “Hizo una zambullida impresionante desde el trampol√≠n.” (“He made an impressive dive from the diving board.”)


  • Meaning: To shake or jostle, usually with some force.
  • Origin: Possibly from pre-Roman origin.
  • Usage: “Los ni√Īos zarandearon el √°rbol para hacer caer las frutas.” (“The children shook the tree to make the fruits fall.”)


  • Meaning: To stamp or tap one’s feet, especially when dancing.
  • Origin: From “zapato” which means shoe in Spanish.
  • Usage: “Zapate√≥ con fuerza al ritmo de la m√ļsica flamenca.” (“She stamped her feet forcefully to the rhythm of the flamenco music.”)

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That’s it for our list of Spanish slang! Thanks for continuing to expand your vocabulary with us.¬† Did we miss something? Let us know down below in the comments ‚§Ķ.

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