Common American English Slang Words

This week we are going to explore thirteen slang words commonly-used by American English speakers. We’ve provided a definition for each word and an example of how that word is used in a sentence. While some of these words have multiple definitions, we’ll be examining just the informal meanings native speakers usually intend to convey when speaking casually.


If you need more help with slang or any other aspect of the English language, contact the English Island in Atlanta. Our caring, passionate ESL teachers can create a lesson plan that is tailored to your individual needs.



Beat: tired or exhausted


I can’t make it to trivia tonight. I worked a 13 hour day and am totally beat.


Busted: be caught doing something.


            Did you hear that her daughter got busted for shoplifting?


Dinosaur: old fashioned or out of date


My office computer is such a dinosaur. It can’t even run a five year old spreadsheet program.


Dude: a male


Are you okay dude?


“Dude” can also be used as an interjection:


            I got the promotion!

            Dude! That’s awesome!


Deck: to hit someone


The judge ordered him to attend anger management classes after he decked a guy who bumped into him in line.


Face-off: a confrontation


The rival teams will face-off in today’s match.


Fender bender: a minor automobile accident


            I heard you were in an accident. Are you okay?

            Yeah, I’m fine. It was just a fender bender.


Hang out: spend time together socially


            We’re hanging out at Gene’s place after the game. You’re welcome to join us.


Hot: popular or physically attractive


Benedict Cumberbatch is really hot right now. I feel like he was in every movie that came out last year.


My friend thinks Angelina Jolie is hot, but I just don’t see it.


Jam: trouble


            I’m in a bit of a jam. Can you help me out?


Lemon: a defective and/or poorly-designed product


That phone was such a lemon that it was both recalled by the manufacturer and banned from flights by the FAA.



Peanuts: very little of something (usually money)


Janet had a hard time finding a job in her field during the recession. She ended up working for peanuts at a fast food restaurant.


Run point: take charge, lead, coordinate


Scheduling lessons with the students directly isn’t working. We need one of the parents to agree to run point.