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ELC Los Angeles Grammar Lesson: West Coast Slang September 22nd, 2014

West Coast English Slang

You’ve heard it before on the radio.  You can read it online.  English slang is everywhere.  Used primarily by young adults and teens, English slang is a quick way to claim insider knowledge, gain “street cred,” and to sound cool, hip and down with the times.

Below is a list of the most popular English slang words you might hear while visiting California – specifically Los Angeles.  Just remember, English slang is about delivery.  Many English slang words have multiple meanings.  “Clutch,” for example, could mean a small handbag when spoken as a noun ( a clutch ), but when stated as an adjective with enthusiasm ( …clutch! ) the word takes on a different meaning.

Using English slang is a great, yet challenging, way to engage native speakers and to participate in West Coast youth culture. When in doubt, ask a native speaker or your teacher to clarify.  Keep it fresh!

Bail – to leave a place

        Ex.       You – “Having a good time?”

                     Me – “No, I think I’m going to bail soon.”

Ballin’ – when something is really hip or extravagant

        Ex.       You – “Have you seen her new house?  It’s ballin!”

Bomb – you can say something is bomb when you really like it

        Ex.       Me – “Did you go to the LA County Fair?”

                You – “No, not yet.”

                Me – “You should go.  The food is bomb!”

Boss – when something is cool or flashy

        Ex.       You – “That suit looks boss.”

Bum – to borrow/have

        Ex.       You – “Hey, can I bum a piece of paper?”

To call (someone) out – to say something is wrong or out of place.

        Ex.       Me – “Why was that guy so rude?”

                You – “I don’t know.   He has a bad attitude.  Someone needs to call him out.”

Clutch – when someone unexpectedly does something or has something that helps a situation

        Ex.       Me – “Thanks for picking me up!  You were clutch.”

Cruise – another way to say “come” or “leave”

        Ex.             You – “Ready to go?”

                Me – “Yeah, let’s cruise.”

Fresh – something that is new, in really good condition or stylish

        Ex.       Me – “Wow, that haircut is fresh!.”

Gnarley – when something is intense or scary

        Ex.       You – “How come you didn’t surf this weekend?”

                Me – “Because those waves were gnarley.”

Heavy – when something is very sad or depressing

        Ex.       You – “The news was really heavy today.”

Poppin’ – when a party or other similar event is really fun

        Ex.       You – “Is that a new DJ (disc-jockey)?”

                Me – “It is! This party is poppin’!”

Post up – to stand around

        Ex.       Me – “I’ll meet you outside.  Post up by the front door.”

To rock (something) – to wear clothes/accessories with style

        Ex.       Me – “You are rocking that scarf!.”

Sketchy (sketch) – something that is dangerous, stupid or just doesn’t feel right

           Ex.       You – “Let’s go.  This club is super sketchy (sketch).”