Modern American Slang: Must-Know Words & Phrases

Every minute of every day, new slang words are being coined. Whether they become popular and live on for many years or die a lonely death is another story entirely. Here, you can check out a curated collection of a few of the most common slang words that have entered usage in recent years. Once you're done getting suitably (post)modern with this list of slang, be sure to try the quick quiz at the end of the article!

Modern American Slang Examples Modern American Slang Examples
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Sick Slang A-M

With so many modern slang words in the vernacular, it's hard to know where to begin. Alphabetical order is as good as any. Sit back, chillax and peruse this mad list of current slang words.

  • aces - If something is "aces," that means that it is great or fantastic. (We have a substitute teacher today in history class? Aces!)
  • bae -The slang term bae is used to refer to one's sweetheart of any gender. This slang term is an example of an acronym; it stands for the phrase "before anyone else." (Come on, bae, let's go watch the sun come up at the beach.)
  • basic - One who is "basic" is unimpressive or boring, typically conforming to mainstream trends like pumpkin spice. (He comes to every party in the exact same outfit. He's so basic.)
  • canceled - Likely derived from cancel culture, the slang term "canceled" indicates that something is no longer popular. (After that drunk video surfaced, the prom queen is canceled.)
  • capper - The slang term capper refers to someone who tells lies. It's related to the slang word capping (or cappin'), which means to lie. (Don't believe anything he says. That guy is a capper.)
  • chillax - Chillax is a portmanteau that fuses the words "chill" and "relax." The combination means just to calm down. (Don't worry about the exam; just chillax and come to the party.)
  • destroy - In modern American slang, "destroy" means the opposite of the literal meaning of the word. To destroy a thing means to do very well. (I destroyed that exam! A plus, baby!)
  • extra - To be "extra" is to be flamboyant or over the top. It's not a compliment, but more of a snarky put-down. (Coming to the prom in white tie, tails and a top hat? He's so extra.)
  • finna - Akin to "fixin' to" in redneck slang, the slang term "finna" is modern slang for the phrase "about to." (I'm finna be done with school.)
  • flexing - Showing off or being a braggart is what the modern American slang term "flexing" means. (Look at him flexing in his fancy new car.)
  • goat - The slang term is an acronym for the phrase "greatest of all time." It can also be written as g.o.a.t or GOAT. This slang word is often used to refer to people or places that are outstanding. (Which NFL quarterback is the goat?)
  • ghost - To suddenly ignore someone, with no explanation or contact. It can occur online or in real life. (Breaking up is one thing, but you can't just ghost her. That's not cool.)
  • glow-up - This term refers to a big improvement in someone's appearance. Glow-ups are often given to or done by friends. (Let's give Kim a major glow-up before the party.)
  • Gucci - Like its namesake designer, the slang term Gucci means that something is very stylish and fashionable or otherwise outstanding. (That leather jacket is so Gucci.)
  • hits - The word "hits" is slang to indicate that something is just right or is working really well. (That new joke you wrote really hits.)
  • hop off - Telling someone to "hop off" means you're urging them to mind their own business. (So what if you don't like my boyfriend? You can hop off.)
  • I'm dead - As strange as it sounds, in modern American slang the phrase I'm dead means that something is hilarious. It's like saying that something is so funny that the person has died from laughing so hard. (Did you hear that ridiculous story she told? Seriously, I'm dead.)
  • lit - The slang term lit is used to refer to something that is outstanding or exciting. (That performance was lit.)
  • mad - The modern slang usage of "mad" is extreme, in a good way. Someone who is very good at something would be "mad" good. (Seth has mad baking skills.)
  • mood - In the current slang, "mood" refers to something relatable or with which one can empathize. (Jake sleeping with his work uniform still on is such a mood.)

Lit Lingo N-Z

Did you learn some new terms already? There's more to come. Keep going to boost your vocab with even more modern slang. Props to you for building a savage repertoire of lit lingo.

  • no cap - This slang term means that something unbelievable is really true. Use it like older slang terms of "for real" and "no lie." (No cap, my sister convinced our parents to buy her a car.)
  • on fleek - The phrase "on fleek" refers to something that looks really good. (That outfit is on fleek.)
  • periodt - This made-up term is said immediately after a sentence for emphasis. It's just the word "period" with a very audible "t" on the end. (I don't care what you say, I am not going. Periodt.)
  • pick me girls/pick me boys - A person who is desperate to be liked by someone of the opposite gender is a "pick me girl" or a "pick me boy." (Luanne ditched me at the club after some guy smiled at her. She is such a pick me girl.)
  • props - In slang vernacular, props is short for "proper," as in proper respect or proper recognition. (Props to you on scoring a scholarship.)
  • ratchety - The term ratchety refers to someone whose behavior is low class, rude or otherwise dysfunctional. (That new girl seems pretty ratchety.)
  • receipts - No less than with the IRS, if you've got receipts, you've got proof. (Oh, he's trying to say he wasn't making moves on Sara last night? Because I got receipts on Insta.)
  • salty - In the world of slang, salty has nothing to do with taste. It refers to being upset, grouchy or annoyed. (He's always so salty after working the night shift.)
  • savage - The slang term savage can refer to doing something that is really bold, cool or outlandish even if it seems impossible. (That's some savage skateboarding.)
  • shade - "Shade" is subtle, understated disrespect or rudeness. Showing such disrespect can be phrased as "throwing shade" or "shading." (Don't throw shade on my homemade costume.)
  • shook - If you're "shook," you're unsettled, discomfited or off your game. (That scary movie has got me shook! I'm sleeping with the lights on.)
  • sick - In the world of slang, "sick" is actually cool or good, which is the opposite of its conventional meaning. (This neighborhood is sick! There are so many great clubs out here.)
  • slaps - When something is cool or good, it "slaps." It's often used to describe songs, but anything sufficiently cool can do so. (Did you see Ashton's new car? That thing slaps!)
  • slay - If you "slay," you're doing great at something, maybe even succeeding spectacularly. It's always a verb: one is not "slay," one "slays." "(Slay, girl! Your dress looks amazing!)
  • slow fade - Rather than breaking up or ghosting, a person might slowly back out of a relationship. That's a slow fade. (She replied to my long text with an emoji. I think I'm getting the slow fade.)
  • snack - Also spelled "snacc," the slang version of "snack" means someone is very attractive, in a romantic or physical way. (Jake is such a snack in his new shirt and tie!)
  • snatched - The term snatched is a slang word indicating that something looks fabulous and perfect for the occasion. (That updo is snatched.)
  • wifey - The term wifey is slang used to refer to a girlfriend or potential girlfriend one perceives as wife material. It can also be used to refer to one's actual wife. (I can't wait for date night with the wifey).
  • you do you - This slang phrase is equal to "do your own thing" or "be yourself." (I don't personally find him attractive, but you do you.)
  • woke - Those who seek to wipe out social injustice are referred to as woke. (Now that my parents have decided they're woke, they always want to talk about social justice.)
  • zombie - When someone who once ghosted you is back and won't go away, they're zombieing you. (He needs to take a hint and stop being such a zombie. I'm done.)
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Slang Quiz: Test Your Mastery of Modern Slang

Before you go on to learn some new slang words, see if you have mad slang skills by taking this quick slang quiz. Fill in the missing word in each sentence from the words listed above.

  1. Gabriel studies every night. I told him that he needs to _________ and take a break once in a while.
  2. Jake's band played a ________ show at Shakespeare's last night. The crowd loved him!
  3. Ever since we broke up, Mike's been acting like we were never together. I got _________, honey. He can't just ignore me.
  4. Alex threw some _______ at Mike for ignoring his ex.
  5. She totally ________ in that gorgeous new dress.
  6. Sorry I got ________ when you beat my high score. I get too competitive sometimes.
  7. I'm gonna wear a ball gown, feather boa and stilettos to the party. Sometimes you have to be a little ______.
  8. This next test has me a little ________. I'm going to study all night.
  9. I kinda _________ Steve this week. Put him on mute and ignored all his Snapchats. I'll get in touch with him soon.
  10. I played Ke$ha at my gym tonight to get hyped. She's such a _______.
  11. Chances are that everyone who participates in the protest is at least somewhat _______.
  12. I'm _______ need to eat some food.
  13. She's so busy _______ that diamond on her finger that she's going to break her wrist.
  14. That _______ wouldn't know the truth if she tripped over it.
  15. That micro mini is not for me, but _______.

Quiz Answers: Do You Have a Mad Slang Vocab?

Now that you've tried the quiz questions on your own, check the answers below to see how you did. If you didn't score so well, you might want to focus a little more on bringing your vocab up to date before engaging with the cool kids in your life.

  1. Gabriel studies every night. I told him that he needs to chillax and take a break once in a while.
  2. Jake's band played a sick show at Shakespeare's last night. The crowd loved him!
  3. Ever since we broke up, Mike's been acting like we were never together. I got receipts, honey. He can't just ignore me.
  4. Alex threw some shade at Mike for ignoring his ex.
  5. She totally slays in that gorgeous new dress.
  6. Sorry I got salty when you beat my high score. I get too competitive sometimes.
  7. I'm gonna wear a ball gown, feather boa and stilettos to the party. Sometimes you have to be a little extra.
  8. This next test has me a little shook. I'm going to study all night.
  9. I kinda ghosted Steve this week. Put him on mute and ignored all his Snapchats. I'll get in touch with him soon.
  10. I played Ke$ha at my gym tonight to get hyped. She's such a mood.
  11. Chances are that everyone who goes to the rally will be at least somewhat woke.
  12. I'm finna need to eat some food.
  13. She's so busy flexing that diamond on her finger that she's going to break her wrist.
  14. That capper wouldn't know the truth if she tripped over it.
  15. That micro mini is not for me, but you do you.
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The Power of Slang

Like language itself, slang is always evolving. Adding slang terms to a language is a sign that it is active and thriving. Words evolve as slang is used, misused, forgotten, and revived. Are you fascinated by the evaluation of slang? Take the time to learn more about the history of American slang. Then, explore some American idioms to get a sense of some commonly used figurative terminology.