Three Useful American Slang Terms for ESL Students
Here are three useful slang terms that you can use to impress your English speaking friends! These are widely used throughout American culture and media.
- Sketchy (adjective): someone or something that seems strange, bad or potentially dangerous
Situation: Two friends talking about a party
Val: Are you going to the party at Tom’s?
Frances: Probably not.
Val: Why not?
Frances: He lives in a sketchy neighborhood. Last time I left his place to go home, I thought I was going to get robbed.
Val: Then come with me. We’ll be safer if we’re together.
Explanation: In this example, Frances calls the neighborhood “sketchy,” which means she thinks it might be dangerous.
- To throw shade on/at someone – to publicly show disapproval, disrespect, or dislike for someone but often in an indirect way
Context: Two friends are talking about Hollywood actresses
Kendall: Did you hear what Reese Witherspoon said when she accepted her award last night? She totally threw shade at Kim Kardashian.
Dina: No, what did she say?
Kendall: She said that it is possible to make it in Hollywood without doing a reality show, and if you ever made a sex tape, you should be embarrassed about it!
Kendall: Yes, and of course everyone knew who she was talking about.
Dina: I think actresses like to throw shade at each other!
Explanation: In this situation, Reese Witherspoon indirectly criticized Kim Kardashian as being famous only because she has a reality show and made a sex tape early on in her career (which made her famous).
- To be (all) set – to be ready or prepared for something
Context: Two friends planning to go out
Kathy (on the phone): “Hey Jane, I’m on my way and I’ll be there in about 10 minutes to pick you up.
Jane: “No problem. I’m all set and ready to go.”
Explanation: Jane is ready to go once Kathy arrives at her house.