When traveling to other countries, one of the best ways to blend in (or make a complete fool of yourself) is to use the local vernacular, including slang. This specialized idiomatic vocabulary will probably be absent from your classroom lessons; however, it’s important to learn a few patois when becoming proficient in foreign speech.
Even English can sound like an exotic dialect when you’re in another country. Luckily, I’ve provided a list of vocabulary words and phrases that will help you decipher the meaning of unfamiliar terms.
Merica aka The United States
It’s time to get acquainted with American slang.
- Bae: an annoying term to express that you have a significant other. Note: it’s most commonly used by people that don’t have an actual boyfriend/girlfriend.“We’re not exclusive, but he’s my bae.”
- Cray: another equally obnoxious term to describe a crazy person and/or situation.“That girl is cray-cray.”
- Slay: when a person succeeds or accomplishes an endeavor. Also used when complimenting an individual’s appearance.“Beyonce slayed at the Formation World Tour concert.”“You look amazing! You better slay!”
- Turn Up: to party; to get loose and have fun. “It’s Friday. It’s time to turn up!”
- Yolo: As someone once described, it’s the carpe diem for stupid people. It’s an acronym for “you only live once” Usually said when someone is about to do something extremely foolish but demands justification for their unwise actions. “I’m going to jump off this cliff. YOLO!”
Although English (and French) is a predominant language in Canada, its unique choice of words can be confusing to its American neighbors.
- Mawga: not feeling well. “I told my boss I wasn’t coming to work because I was mawga.”
- Mickey: a flask-size bottle of liquor. “Amber didn’t believe in buying drinks at the bar. Instead, she drank the mickey she hid in her purse.”
- Loonie: Canadians aren’t referring to a deranged individual. This is the nickname for a one dollar coin. “You dropped your loonies.”
- Owly: in a bad mood. “My brother is owly when he wakes up.”
- Kerfuffle: a commotion or fuss, often caused by a disagreement. “There was a kerfuffle over the chairmanship.”
- Stag/Stagette: a bachelor or bachelorette party. “I’m having my stag in Vegas.”
Cockney rhyming slang originated in the East End of London; however, many of the expressions are now in popular use throughout other parts of England. It was a coded language invented for Cockneys to converse without being understood by eavesdroppers who didn’t recognize the slang. There is also speculation that it was frequently used by criminals as a way of obscuring the meaning of a sentence when surrounded by police. Rhyming Slang phrases take an expression which rhymes with a word and then uses that expression instead of the word. Here are a few examples.
- Brown Bread: dead. “He’s brown bread.”
- Dog and Bone: phone. “Your dog is barking!”
- Pork Pies: lies. “Children love to tell porkies.”
- Sherbert Dab: cab. “I’m too tired to drive. I’m going to take a sherbert home.”
- Syrup of Figs: wig. “She was dancing so hard that her syrup came off.”
- Whistle and Flute: suit. “He looked handsome in his whistle.”
Australian slang can be a language of its own. Listed are several fun words and phrases to use with your mates.
- Brekkie or Brekky: breakfast. “I had eggs and bacon for brekkie.”
- Fair dinkum: to mean that something is truthful, genuine, or real. “Fair dinkum, would I lie to you?”
- Hooroo: goodbye. “Hooroo, Felicia!”
- Relly: a relative or close friend. “Tonya put him in the relly zone”
- Thong: they aren’t talking about your undergarments. Thong means flip flops. “D**n, Daniel! Back at it again with the white thongs.”