40 New York Slang You Should Know (Language of the Big Apple)

Last Updated on November 17, 2021

The magnificent city of New York is truly a marvel to behold. It is home to over eight million people from various levels of society. This statistic means that in 1 in every 38 people in the United States calls the big apple home. As we all know, this fantastic city is home to the famous statue of liberty. In addition, it is home to the largest gold reserve in the world, which contains over $85 billion in gold.

Now, you might be wondering why I’m placing so much emphasis on the wonders of the big apple. It simple. Asides from its various wonders mentioned above, one thing stands out in the marvelous city of New York. What is it? What could make such a stellar city stand out even further? One word: diversity! Yes, diversity.

Home to over 800 languages, New York is the most linguistically diverse city on the face of the earth. As such, four in every ten households speak a language other than English. Now, why is this so important? You see, the concept of slang is no stranger to the majority of the population. However, for conceptual clarity, let us go over it.

In concise terms, slang is an informal means of communication used between certain groups of people. People in Brooklyn have their unique slang, while individuals hailing from hull city have their unique slang. Many people claim that slang is a very divisive tool used for social segregation. Others disagree, opining that slang is an easy and informal means of communication that allows you to foster connections with people from diverse backgrounds and circumstances. Regardless of your standpoint, it is irrefutable that this is a topic worth exploring further.

How does this fascinating concept tie in with the great city of New York? Since the big apple is the most linguistically diverse city on earth, New York slang is a topic worth exploring.

Furthermore, slang, in general, is a critical element in any language as it encompasses not only the essence of the language but also the collection of diverse cultures and traditions present in that location. Due to this, we can understand more about various ethnic, social, and cultural groups by understanding the slang used among them.

New York Slang You Should Know

Fun Places to Socially Distance in New York City

If you haven’t guessed it yet, today’s topic focuses on the linguistic jewel of the big apple: New York slang! Here are some of the most fantastic New York slang you’d ever hear.

  1. Grill

This phrase means to ask someone a series of accusatory questions or to give someone a stern stare down. For example: “When I came to pick Hannah up, her dad wouldn’t stop grilling me.”

  1. Whack

This phrase is a New York slang that refers to something unpleasant or appalling. It is usually utilized to refer to things of low quality. For example: “Where did you get those shoes man? They’re whack!”

  1. Lit

Yes, this slang isn’t only used in the big apple. It is also used worldwide. The phrase “lit” is used to denote something pleasant or exciting. For example: “Have you seen Jessie’s new shoes? They’re super lit!”

  1. Poppin’

This slang is very similar to the phrase “lit.” They can be used interchangeably as “poppin” refers to a pleasant and exciting situation or event. For example: “I can believe you missed my party last weekend. It was poppin!”

  1. Son

Think of this as the east coast version of the popular slang “homie.” This phrase serves as a term of endearment as it is used to describe a close friend. For example: “What’s up son? It’s been a while.”

  1. Beef

This phrase refers to a grudge between two or more people. It is widely used in the United States and the world at large. For example: “Hey man, you’ve been acting weird all week. What’s with all the beef?”

  1. Real Talk

This phrase is one of the most common New York slang you’d ever hear. It can also be used interchangeably with the phrase “true talk.” This phrase is used when you want to emphasize that what you’re saying is true. It could also be used at the beginning of a statement to grab the attention of your listeners. This phrase lets them know you’re about to say something serious. For example: “Real talk? That is the worst idea I’ve ever heard.”

  1. Bridge and Tunnel

This phrase is one that most people haven’t come across. Hopefully, you’d never have to come across this derogatory term. You see, this phrase was used to distinguish the social classes of people. Bridge and tunnel were used to refer to less affluent people who lived in the outskirts of New York and had to use either a bridge or tunnel to get to Manhattan.

As times evolved, this phrase has evolved to a derogatory slang that refers to someone culturally ignorant and ethnocentric.

  1. Basic

Similar to the phrase mentioned above, this slang refers to an individual who lacks personality depth and is only interested in stereotypical and mainstream things.

  1. Boujie

This phrase is derived from the French word “bourgeoisie.” It is used to refer to someone who goes to excessive means to appear affluent.

  1. Bodega

This phrase describes a local grocery or convenience store where you can purchase essentials like milk and eggs. For example: “Hey mum, could you grab some eggs from the bodega on your way back home?”

  1. Yooz

This phrase is the plural form of the word “you” and is typically used along with “guys” by gangsters. For example: “Yooz guys headed for the pool party down the block?”

  1. Regular Coffee

This phrase means that you want to order a coffee with milk and sugar. For example: “I hate black coffee, get me a regular coffee instead.”

  1. JAP

This abbreviation stands for “Jewish American Princess.” This derogatory is used to refer to a rich and entitled person – typically a woman. For example: “Why does she keep acting like a JAP? I don’t like it at all.”

  1. Waiting-On-Line

No, it doesn’t mean you’re waiting on the internet. This slang is used to describe when you’re waiting in line or standing in a queue. For example: “This is so frustrating! I’ve been waiting on line for over two hours.”

  1. Cop

This slang refers to the act of buying, purchasing, or stealing something. For example: “Check out my new watch. I copped it last week.”

  1. Thirsty

In simple terms, this slang refers to someone who is behaving desperately. It is typically used in the dating scene to refer to someone desperate or horny. For example: “All the girls you talk to always act so thirsty.”

  1. Thirstbucket

This adjective refers to an extremely desperate individual. Usually, love is the source of this desperation. Think of it as the extreme case of the phrase “thirsty.” For example: “You’d never get a girlfriend if you don’t stop acting like a thirstbucket.”

  1. Mad

This phrase is used as a substitute for words like “extremely, very, and a lot.” As such, it is used to emphasize something. Think of it as the New York equivalent of the Boston slang “wicked.” For example: “Man, this dinner is mad delicious.”

  1. Frontin’

This phrase refers to the act of pretending that you’re better than you are. It is usually done in a bid to impress someone. For example: “Stop frontin’! We all know your boots are fake.”

  1. Guap

This phrase is used interchangeably with “cheese, and cake.” These terms are all New York slang for money. For example: “Make sure you count the guap before you pack it up.”

  1. Dead-ass

This phrase is used to emphasize your seriousness about a particular conversation or scenario. Think of it as a substitute for the statement, “I swear to God.” For example: “Deadass son, that crazy lady popped my tires.”

  1. Whip

This is one of the most popular and widely used slang, especially in the rap industry. It is used to refer to a flashy sports car. For example: “Damn son! Did you see Aiden’s new whip?”

  1. Tight

This phrase is used to describe something amazing and pleasant. It can be used interchangeably with the word “cool.” It can also be used to refer to a state of being upset about something. For example: “That pool party was mad tight!” or “He’s still pretty tight about what you said yesterday.”

  1. Gully

This phrase refers to something from the gutter or streets. It is also used to refer to something raw, uncut, real, or rough. For example: “Have you seen Jacob’s new apartment. That place is damn gully.”

  1. Ratchet

This derogatory slang is used to describe a promiscuous lady. It can also refer to someone or a place that has a dirty and unkempt appearance. For example: “He thinks he’s lit but he’s straight up ratchet.”

  1. Brick

This New York slang typically refers to very chilly weather. For example: “Man, the weather is mad brick, better bring a jacket along.”

  1. The City

This phrase usually refers to New York or specifically Manhattan in a lot of cases. For example: “I’m going to head out of the city later today.”

  1. Schmear

This phrase initially referred to a little amount of cream cheese. However, it has evolved to be used to describe any small amount of a condiment. It can also be used to refer to a medical test for a woman. For example: “Please put a schmear of cream cheese on the plate.”

  1. Pie

All over the world, this phrase denotes a delicious pastry often served as dessert. However, in New York, this phrase is the short form of “pizza.” For example: “I’m so hungry. I wouldn’t mind a pie right now.”

  1. Slice

As the name implies, this slang denotes a piece (or slice) of regular cheese pizza. For example: “Could I have a slice to go?”

  1. Hero

This New York slang is used to refer to a long deli sandwich. It is synonymous with words like “sub, hoagie, and grinder.” For example: “Have you tried that hero place at the corner? It’s delightful.”

  1. Schvitz

This was originally a Yiddish word that describes the action of sweating profusely. It can be used as a verb and a noun as well. For example: “The weather is so hot. I’m schvitzing all over the place.”

  1. Stoop

This phrase refers to the steps in front of someone’s house. For example: “When I got home yesterday, she was waiting on my stoop.”

  1. Dumb

This phrase can be used interchangeably with the slang “mad.” It is used to emphasize a particular thing without using the words “really and very.” For example: “That concert was dumb good last night.”

  1. Gotham

This is a nickname for the big apple. It is derived from the Batman comics because New York used to be a corrupt city similar to the fictional city of Gotham. For example: “Crime is too rampant here in Gotham.”

  1. Spaz

This phrase is used to refer to someone that is hyperactive. It also means that you’re getting upset or angry with someone if you are “spazzing out” at them. For example: “Can’t you sit still? Don’t be such a spaz.”

  1. Buggin’

This phrase can be used interchangeably with slang like “freaking out, and trippin.” It means that someone is acting crazy, weird, or causing an issue. For example: “I forgot all about today’s test and now I’m buggin out!”

  1. Ice

This phrase refers to expensive jewelry usually made from diamonds. It could also be used to refer to the act of murdering someone. For example: “The mob boss iced Jacob for stealing his money.”

  1. B

This slang is used as a term of endearment for a close friend or loved one. For example: “Thank you for the gifts. I love you b!”

Wrap Up

Ultimately, you cannot refute that slang is way more than a means of communication. It is an avenue to foster connections and relationships with people from diverse backgrounds. Slang provides a linguistic placeholder for cultures, traditions, and customs. In totality, slang is part of our heritage. That proposition, in its entirety, is utterly splendid.

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