10 English slang terms you need to know in 2024

10 English slang terms you need to know in 2024

The many faces of English slang words… 

Imagine that you got really, really sick. 

Like, coughing up blood type of sick. 

Alarmed and unsettled, you run to the hospital, nervously go through the doctor’s appointment, get all the necessary tests done, and, finally — the worst part — wait in the corridor for the doctor to come back with your results, hoping for the best but also anticipating the worst. 

Painfully slowly, the door to the doctor’s office opens, and he cautiously makes a step out of the room. You see everything in slow motion — that’s how nervous you are. Do I have to write a will? Will I even have the time to do it?

You squint slightly as the doctor begins to speak. You don’t know what you’re waiting for, but definitely not for what’s to follow…

“After reviewing your CBC, CMP, and lipid panel, as well as your MRI and CT scan results, I can confirm that there are no abnormalities or concerning findings present.”

“Huh?” you ask. 

“It’s all good; you can go,” the doctor responds, smiling.

What?! As if the doctor had to use all those bizarre words. What do those abbreviations even mean? 

And that’s when you understand that you fell victim to slang medical jargon: “CBC”, “CMP”, “MRI”, and “CT scan” all mean nothing to someone who didn’t spend years going through medical school. 

Then, you realize that hospital isn’t the only place where you can encounter slang. Slang is omnipresent, and jargon is just one of its types. For example, words like “lit”, “ate”, and “goat” mean little to someone unfamiliar with current Internet slang. 

So, what is slang? Do you need to know it as an English learner? Would you be able to survive in English speaking countries without knowing every slang English word possible? What are the most important English slang terms to know in 2024? How to use them?

We know that’s a lot of questions. But don’t worry! In this article, we cover everything slang-related from A to Z. Dive in to sound like a native!

What are slang words in English?

English slang words are casual words or phrases people use when they’re chatting informally. They’re often used in specific groups or areas. 

We can split slang words in English into different groups based on where they come from and who uses them:

  • Internet slang: Hip words and abbreviations often appear in online chats and social media feeds. Traditional examples include “LOL” for “laugh out loud” or “TBH” for “to be honest,” originating from the almost medieval age (2009 was a long time ago!) of online forums. More current slang, influenced by platforms like TikTok, includes playful wordplay such as “4+4=8 ate” to express something very cool and “based” for “something fundamental and true.” It’s the language of the digital age, where brevity is key, and emojis reign supreme!
  • Youth slang: Youth slang is all about identity and belonging. Words like “lit” for “great” and “flex” for “show off” are prime examples. It’s a fast-changing language, reflecting the latest trends in youth culture.
  • Regional slang: Every corner of the globe has its own unique slang vocabulary shaped by local customs, traditions, and history. Whether it’s the “y’all” for “you all” of the American South or the “mate” for “buddy” of Australian English, regional slang adds a dash of personality to our language and reflects the diversity of our world.
A gif with the English slang word “y’all”

Keke Palmer using a slang English term “y’all”; Source

  • Professional jargon: Step into the world of different industries, and you’ll find a whole new language waiting for you! From medical jargon like “STAT” to legal terms like “amicus curiae,” professional slang is the secret code that professionals use to communicate with each other efficiently.
  • Pop culture references: Finally, we have slang inspired by the wonderful world of pop culture! Whether it’s quoting lines from your favorite movies or referencing the latest memes, pop culture slang is all about connecting with others who share your interests and passions. Ever heard the word “stan” (a superfan or obsessive supporter of a celebrity or cultural phenomenon)? It’s inspired by Eminem’s song “Stan.”

List of slang words in the English language: Top-10 US English slang words and phrases in 2024

Drip

A stylish man walking

Fashion influencer in a trendy outfit; Source

“Drip” is a slang term that refers to a person’s sense of style or fashion, especially when it’s particularly fashionable, trendy, or impressive. You can say someone has “drip” to compliment their outfit or overall look.

“Drip” used in a sentence: “Have you seen Tom’s rings? He has some serious drip!” 

Extra

“Extra” refers to someone or something being a bit too much or over-the-top in behavior or appearance. If someone’s outfit or behavior is really flashy and attention-grabbing, you might call them “extra.” Similarly, if someone is loudly expressing their emotions in a situation where it’s not really appropriate, you could describe them as “extra.” 

“Extra” used in a sentence: “I can’t believe Julia is throwing a festival for her 25th birthday; she’s so extra!”

Is ___ in the room with us?

Imagine you’re watching a video of a funny cat with your friend, and all of a sudden, they say that, “this dog is so cute!” That’s when you can question their perception of reality by using the slang phrase “Is (dog) in the room with us?” 

You can apply this phrase to talk both about physical objects and abstract concepts that the narrator seems to get wrong. 

“Is ___ in the room with us?” used in a sentence: “— Katy is such a talented painter! // — Erm, is talent in the room with us? Her paintings are not even remotely good.”

No cap

A crossed icon of a cap with the caption “no cap”

No cap; Source

“No cap” is like stamping a seal of honesty on what you’re saying. It’s slang that adds extra emphasis, confirming that you’re speaking the truth and not pulling anyone’s leg. So, when someone drops a “no cap” before or after a statement, it’s their way of saying, “I’m keeping it real; no jokes or exaggerations here!” 

“No cap” used in a sentence: “She’s the nicest girl I’ve met, no cap.”

Lowkey

“Lowkey” is a slang phrase that sprouted from African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and signals that something is being kept hush-hush or under wraps. You can also use it to express your opinion about something when it’s not very strong. 

“Lowkey” used in a sentence: “Lowkey, I don’t really like my new manager but it’s okay maybe we’ll get along.”

Goat (also spelled as G.O.A.T.)

A goat in the mountains

A goat; Source

No baas and maas here. We’re not talking about the literal domestic animal. G.O.A.T. is the abbreviation for Greatest Of All Time. So, if you want to say that something or someone is simply amazing, you can call them “goat” or “goated”. 

“Goat” used in a sentence: Drake is goat! His last album is goated.”

Cringe

Whenever you see something ​​embarrassing, uncomfortable, or awkward to witness, you can describe it using the slang term “cringe.”

“Cringe” used in a sentence: “Ew, how could you get back with your ex? It’s so cringe!”

Caught in 4K

4K ultra hd logo

4K ULTRAHD; Source

“Caught in 4K” means someone is caught doing something wrong or embarrassing, and the “4K” part refers to super clear video quality. So, when someone says “caught in 4K,” they mean there’s solid proof of what happened, and it’s hard to argue against it.

“Caught in 4K” used in a sentence: “He’s definitely guilty. He was caught in 4K stealing that can of Coke from the office fridge!” 

Vibe/vibing

When you say something “is a vibe” or that you’re “vibing with” it, it means you really like and enjoy whatever you’re talking about. This slang is used to show positive feelings toward objects, abstract ideas, or people.

“Vibe”/”vibing” used in a sentence: “This film is such a vibe! I’m really vibing with the soundtrack!”

FR 

“FR” is a common internet abbreviation for “For Real.” It’s often used in casual online conversations to emphasize agreement, sincerity, or confirmation. 

“FR” used in a sentence: “It’s FR such a great opportunity for you!”

Phew, we’re finally done with the list! But these were just the ten most popular out of… How many? How many slang words are there in the English language? 

Well, nobody knows for sure. There are thousands and thousands of them, and new ones keep popping up all the time, even as you’re reading this article!

How about we take a short break from reading and watch a TikTok? I promise it’s still relevant to the topic; you’ll get why in a second. 

So, what do we have here? An LA-based teacher, Sam Salem, who gaslights (another slang term which means “to make someone question reality”) his students into thinking that the fake slang words he uses are actually cool Gen-Z terms: 

  • “Clip” — something super positive
  • “Feta” — something negative, not very good
  • “On mute/muted” — synonymous to “lowkey”, means “on the low”  

And even if the class of Mr. Salem wasn’t necessarily buying it at first, once the man shared his ideas online, it went viral. Millions of TikTok users viewed the video, liked it and, essentially, adopted the new slang (or some of it).

Screenshot of the comment section to Sam Salem’s video about made up English slang

People using slang words suggested by Sam Salem in the video’s comments section; Source

No, really, when Sam Salem posted the second part of the video, the lingo from the first part solidified: people in the comments were actively using the terms from the first video to express how they felt about the new bunch of fake slang words: 

And since 44 thousand people have understood the meaning of “kinda feta, on mute”, it’s safe to assume it’s officially new slang.

So, yeah, sometimes, all it takes to create a new slang English word is a TikTok video that goes viral. 

Some other ways for new slang terms to make their way into the language include pop culture achievements, technological advancements, and the never-ending desire of younger generations to be different.

How to use English language slang words in your speech?

Before we go into the best practices for using slang words in English, it’s important to understand why one might incorporate them into their speech in the first place. 

Why do people use slang?

Depending on the type of the slang English word being used, reasons for using it vary:

  • Sense of belonging. Slang acts like a membership card to a tight-knit group or community. It’s the secret code that says, “Hey, I’m one of you,” as soon as you speak it.
  • Exclusivity. Some slang English words or phrases are deliberately obscure or niche, allowing speakers to signal insider knowledge or exclusivity within a particular group.
  • Expressiveness. Slang allows you to express yourself more creatively or vividly than you could with standard language.
  • Identity expression. It’s common to use slang as a way to express your unique personality, interests, or cultural background.
  • Quick talk. Sometimes, slang is just faster and easier, more efficient than regular words. It gets the point across without a fuss.
  • Cultural relevance. Using slang keeps you in the loop with what’s trendy and cool in culture.
  • Humor. Many slang words are just plain funny, adding a dash of humor to everyday talk.

So, yes, slang is a big deal in English. It’s everywhere — on social media, in TV shows and movies, and in casual conversations between friends, relatives, or anyone, really. 

From the looks of it, if you want to master the language, you gotta learn English slang words.

But here’s the thing: you won’t find slang in regular dictionaries or textbooks. Ever wondered why? 

Because the world of English slang is like a lively party that’s always evolving. New words pop up, old ones get a makeover changing their meaning, and some simply go out of fashion and fade away into history. 

To keep up with all these changes, resources have to be extremely dynamic and get regularly updated (a great example of this is EMERY and its unique video vocabulary of English words and phrases).

And even then… With the existence of less widespread, geographically specific phrases, it’s nearly impossible to keep track of all the slang terms and their correct use. 

So…

Don’t try too hard to use slang 

Unless you want to look like Lenny Wosniak in 30 Rock (completely and noticeably out of place), you… shouldn’t go out of your way to incorporate slang into your day-to-day life.

A gif of Steve Buscemi saying “How do you do, fellow kids?”

Source

You can usually tell when someone learns a slang word from a list online instead of hearing it in context first. It sounds forced and 9 times out of 10 the person ends up using the phrase wrong. Not a vibe, is it?

In fact, according to stats, even native English speakers have trouble using English slang correctly: 50% of Americans have used slang terms without knowing their meaning. 

So, if you aren’t 100% you know the meaning of the slang term you’re about to use and aren’t absolutely confident if it will be relevant to use one given your circumstances… Maybe stick to the good old traditional dictionary phrases instead? 

But if you absolutely must… 

  • Listen and observe: Pay attention to how native speakers use slang in different contexts, such as in conversations, movies, or social media.
  • Be selective: Not all slang words will suit your personality or situation, so choose ones that feel authentic to you and fit the context appropriately.
  • Don’t go overboard: It’s okay to use slang words sparingly, but if your entire speech becomes slang central, you might sound a bit funny. 

And if you need someone to tell you all about current British and American slang, you can always rely on Emery World to match you with a native speaker that knows exactly what’s in and what’s out. How about giving it a try now?

Try EMERY and learn slang English words