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America Idioms July 11, 2010

Posted by lapsippipm in English Learning.
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America Idioms

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x-rated: sexually explicity; lewd behavior.

She was paid a lot of money to appear in an x-rated movie.

Xmas: Christmas.

We wish you a merry Xmas.

yack: talk nonstop.

It’s hard to concentrate when someone’s yacking on their cell phone.

yes man: a person who always answers “yes” to his or her boss; a person who agrees with a supervisor.

A strong leader is one who doesn’t surround himself with yes men.

yikes: wow! look out!

Yikes! Look at our electric bill for the month!

you betcha: yes; that’s right; you’re welcome.

A: Thanks for helping me.

B: You betcha.

you-know-what: something you don’t want to say the name of; a substitute for a vulgar word.

She was dancing when her you-know-whats popped out of her blouse .

yo-yo: a stupid person; someone who doesn’t know what he’s doing.

The yo-yo who gave me my prescription made a mistake.

yuck: a word used to describe something that you really don’t like–similar to “ick.”

A: Do you want some of this boiled spinach?

B: Yuck! No thanks. I hate spinach.

yuppie: young urban professional; a young person who makes a lot of money and usually lives in the city.

The Yuppies moving into our neighborhood are causing an increase in the cost to rent an apartment.

zilch: nothing; zero.

Thelma thought she was going to get a good tip from the table she served, but they left her with zilch.

zit: a pimple of the face; a blemish.

Joe decided not to go to school yesterday because a giant zit suddenly erupted on his nose.

zombie: a person who is incapable of concentration because of fatigue; a movie character who dies, comes back to life, and then tries to eat people.

If I don’t get at least eight hours of sleep, I’m a zombie the next day.

zoned out: unable to concentrate.

George zoned out through most of the meeting.

zonk out: to fall asleep; to go to sleep quickly and deeply.

After 12 hours of work, Tina zonked out as soon as she got home.

zoo: a situation that is out of control; chaos.

When the teacher left the classroom, it suddenly turned into a zoo.

walk away: leave without buying anything.

If a salesperson tries too hard to sell you something you aren’t ready to buy, it’s best just to walk away and say you’ll come back later.

walk out on: leave someone and end a relationship.

Tanya was 14 years old when her father walked out on her family, and she hasn’t seen him since that time.

warm up: to practice or get ready for physical activity.

I have to warm up for about ten or fifteen minutes before playing my guitar.

washed up: someone whose career or skill has passed from age or inability.

Osama bin Laden is a washed-up loser scumbag who will go down in history as one of the world’s worst criminals.

WASP: White Anglo Saxon Protestant.

Barack Obama is the first non-WASP President we’ve had in the White House since John F. Kennedy.

way: very; yes.

That SUV is way too big for our needs. Let’s get something that’s more sensible and better for the environment.

way to go: good job; good performance; congratulations.

I heard you got a raise at work. Way to go!

weasel: a person who says or does anything in order to advance; someone who lies or cheats for personal gain.

No one in the office likes Edward because he’s such a weasel, and he always sucks up to the boss.

weed: take out unnecessary things; pick out.

It’s time to weed through my sock drawer and throw out the ones that are worn and have holes.

weigh in: to give an opinion in addition to opinions from other people.

weird: strange; unusual.

Night of the Living Dead is a weird movie! It’s about people who come back to life from the dead and then try to eat people who are alive.

weirdo: a strange person.

There’s this weirdo outside of the buiding giving away information about Scientology.

whack: to hit.

If you want to open that jar, try whacking the lid with something hard.

whacky: crazy; comical; amusing; funny.

Conan O’Brien is a whacky talk-show host whose comedy always surprises the audience.

wham: to hit; impact from an accident.

A bird whammed into the window and died.

whatchamacallit: something you don’t know the name of (similar to thingamajig)

You’re going to have to get another whatchamacallit for underneath the sink because it’s leaking.

what for: a reason for doing something; a negative consequence.

The police gave that guy what for when he tried to take a swing at one of them. Now’s he all beat up and in jail.

what gives: why; what’s the reason

You stopped coming to our meetings. What gives?

what’s happening / what’s shaking: hi; how’s it going?

A: Hey, what happening?

B: Oh, I’m just reading the paper and drinking some coffee.

what’s up: hello; how are you; what’s happening in your life?

A: Hey, what’s up?

B: Not much. What’s up with you?

what’s with: what’s the reason; tell the cause for the problem.

What’s with this refrigerator? Sometimes it’s too cold and other times it’s not cold enough.

wheel and deal: negotiate; buying and selling.

George’s uncle likes to wheel and deal when he goes to antique shops. He can usually pay a lower price on things.

where it’s at: the essence of something; the truth.

I love it when my religion teacher talks about Jesus and the New Testament. He really knows where it’s at.

whiff: to smell something.

This perfume smells like oranges. Here, take a whiff.

wimp: a person who lacks courage or strength.

Bill doesn’t want to take the dead mouse out of the mouse trap because he’s such a wimp, so he just throws out the whole trap instead of reusing it.

whiz: a smart person.

Jennifer is a real math whiz. She’ll probably major in engineering in college.

(the) whole nine yards: everything; all of something.

After Myrtle died, her children sold off everything in the house–the whole nine yards.

wicked: cool; very interesting and, perhaps, a little dangerous.

That was a wicked turn we just took. Did you feel the car lifted a little on the passenger side.

widget: something small and useful; something on a computer that does a task.

This little widget is good at estimating some of the costs for my business.

wig out: to suddenly feel fear; similar to freak out.

Kevin wigged out and moved to California when he lost his job.

wing it: try to do something without preparation.

Instead of using a written speech, the speaker tried to wing it, but he made a lot of mistakes, and a few times he forgot what he was trying to say.

wipe out: to fall over; to cause a loss of property.

Huge medical bills wiped out all of their life savings. Now they don’t have any money left.

wired: 1. wide awake, usually from too much coffee; 2. technologically connected through the internet and mobile technology.

1. I can’t go to sleep. I had five cups of coffee at Starbucks and feel totally wired.

2. We have to get out computer wired to the internet.

wishy-washy: unable to take a clear position or make a decision.

Diedre is kind of a wishy-washy boss. She’s never able to decide on which people to hire, so she relies on others to help her make hiring decisions.

with flying colors: to do something in a way that is great; to achieve success; to do well.

She passed her driving test with flying colors.

with it: hip; able to understand what happening now; up-to-date.

Our teacher thinks she’s really with it, but at the age of 62, it’s not easy to keep up with her young students.

wonk: a technocrat; a person who understands small details as an authority.

The energy-policy wonks in Washington have some good ideas about how we can all save on home energy costs.

woozy: dizzy or tired; a side effect from some medicine.

Laughing gas made Shawn feel a little woozy while the dentist worked on his teeth.

workaholic: a person who works all the time.

If he weren’t such a workaholic, he’d have more time to spend with his kids.

work it in: to bring something into another thing; to incorporate; to make time available in a schedule.

We don’t have a lot of extra time during the meeting, but if you want to talk about your project for a few minutes, it’s possible to work that in.

work out: make something possible; to improve a situation.

Halima and Ali are have had some trouble with their marriage, but now they’re trying to work things out.

worry wart: a person who worries too much.

Stop being such a worry wart. Your kids will be okay when they go on the trip.

wrap up: bring a project to a conclusion; finish.

Let’s wrap things up here and go home.

wreck: a person or a thing in very bad condition.

Diane is a wreck after getting only got two hours of sleep last night.

wussy: a person who is weak, fearful.

My friend, Dan, is too much of a wussy to ask his hottie neighbor, Casandra, out on a date.

umpteen: an indefinite, large number. (also, umpteenth when used as an ordinal number)

Please, for the umpteenth time–clean up after yourself!

Uncle Sam: the United States government.

If you don’t pay taxes to Uncle Sam by April 15, you’ll have to pay a penalty.

underground: something unconventional or unknown to the general population.

I listened to a lot of underground music when I was in my twenties.

unreal: hard to believe; something amazing.

We got so much snow last night it’s unreal.

up against the wall: in a difficult situation.

Melvin lost his job, and now he’s really up against the wall because he has to pay his rent and he doesn’t have any money.

up and up: honest; truthful.

That salesperson doesn’t seem to be very up and up. We should go to a different car dealer.

up for grabs: available to the first person who wants it or tries to get it.

There’s a bike down the street that’s up for grabs. It has a big sign on it that says, “free.”

up in the air: unknown; unplanned;

Our plans for the weekend are still up in the air.

up to here: as much as one can tolerate; an expression of anger or unhappiness with a situation or a person.

I’ve had it up to here with your complaining. Stop it!

up to speed: informed; knowledgable; up to date.

After a two-week vacation, it took Yolanda a few days to get back up to speed at work.

veg: to do nothing (related to the word “vegetable).

All they want to do on the weekend is sit in front of the TV and veg.

veggie: vegetable.

If you eat a lot of veggies, you’ll live a long healthy life.

vibe: an emotional feeling or reaction, usually from a person.

Stay away from the boss today. He’s sending out a lot of bad vibes.

vid: video

Nice vid! Did you do all the work on it yourself?

vinyl: another name for a record or an album. (Records were replaced by CDs and downloadable digital recordings in the 80s and 90s, but they remain popular among music collectors and enthusiasts.)

Do you have this song on vinyl?

VIP: abbreviation for “very important person.”

The VIPs were allowed to get into the nightclub first while everyone else had to wait and stand in line.

tag: the spraying of paint in public areas; the application of graffiti to mark territory.

The gang kids in the Phillips neighborhood were caught tagging by the police and now they have to clean it all up.

tailgate: to follow someone too closely in a car.

An accident on the highway was caused by some jerk tailgating someone he thought was driving too slowly.

take: opinion; idea.

What’s your take on the economy?

take it: tolerate; withstand difficulty.

Go ahead and tell me what you really think. I can take it.

take it easy: relax.

Most people hope to take it easy on the weekends and do as little work as possible.

take off: leave; go.

Are you ready to take off? The movie starts in 20 minutes.

take on: 1. to do some work; to take responsibility; 2. to fight someone.

1. Harold is willing to take on a second job in order to make some extra money.

2. If you think you can take on someone twice your size, you must be a good fighter.

tank: to decrease quickly in value or quality.

A lot of investors tried to pull their money out of the stock market when it tanked in 2008.

teaser: a person who likes to play games with other people in kind of a mean way; a person who says he or she will provide something and then not do it.

Jill told Mark she would go out with him but then changed her mind at the last minute. She’s nothing but a teaser.

tech: short for “technology,” usually used with reference to computers.

We need to hire a new tech person at our company because the one we have now isn’t very good at working with Apple computers.

teen: someone who’s between the ages of 13 and 19.

During his teen years in high school, Barry wasn’t very popular, but then things changed for the better during college.

teeny: very small. (sometimes teeny-weeny)

The diamond in that ring is so teeny that you can barely see it.

tell off: to get mad at someone and say whatever is on one’s mind; to get angry and talk directly to a person.

When Rupert told Magda that he wanted to go out with other girls, she told him off in front of everyone at the party.

thingamajig: anything that you don’t know the name of; same as “thing.” (You can use the word “thing” for anything you don’t know the name of.)

There’s this thingamajig I need to get for my car which costs over $300.

thingy: anything. Similar to thingamajig.

What’s that thingy sitting on top of the TV set? Is that for your Wii?

throw: give up a competition; to willingly concede defeat for monetary gain.

When it was discovered that Louis threw the boxing match, he was banned from all future competition.

tied up: busy.

I’m sorry I can’t come to your art exhibitioin. I’ll be all tied up tomorrow with meetings.

toast: to raise one’s glass during a celebration and drink; a formal custom before a eating and drinking at a party.

Before everyone started eating at the reception, Matt made a toast to the bride and the groom.

tool: a foolish person; someone who is under the command of another person.

Joe the Plumber is a tool for the Republican Party, and the funny thing is he knows absolutely nothing about politics and democracy. He’s a plumber, for gosh sakes!

top dog: a person who is the leader of an organization; the person at the top.

Barack Obama is now top dog of the Democratic Party in the United States.

topless: no shirt, usually used for women.

Even thought it’s more expensive, Bobby and Al don’t mind paying extra for drinks at the topless bars downtown.

tourist trap: a place tourists are attracted to and spend a lot of money.

From the highway, it looked like an interesting museum, but it turned out to be just another tourist trap selling postcards and t-shirts.

track: song on a CD, album, or on an iPod.

I love this CD, but the there’s something wrong with the fouth track.

trendy: something popular; a fad.

The color black was kind of trendy 20 years ago, but now it just looks ridiculous on people who wear it to every social ocasion.

trip: something amusing, interesting.

This nightclub is a trip. Look! There’s an aquarium underneath the dance floor.

turf: territory; a neighborhood; a place claimed as one’s own.

If another salesperson ever tries to invade Bill’s turf, he immediately calls him on the phone and tells him to stay away.

turn on: to like, especially sexually.

The pink sweater that she’s wearing always turns on her boyfriend husband.

turn off: to dislike something; something that makes you feel a little disgusted.

Alice picked her nose in front of her boyfriend, and it turned him off so much, he decided to stop seeing her.

tux: short for “tuxedo.”

A friend of mine is getting married, so I have to rent a tux for the wedding.

twerp: a name given to someone who’s small or insignificant; similar to “shrimp.”

When Joey called his younger brother “a little twerp,” his brother got mad and broke one of Joey’s trophies.

two cents: an opinion; to express one’s ideas.

Well, don’t get mad at me for thinking it’s wrong to deny health care coverage people who need it. I’m just offerering you my two cents.

two-way street: a situation that requires cooperation; two people or groups who help each other out.

Mutual respect is a two-way street.

sack: fire someone from a job.

The president of the company sacked half of his office staff because the company was losing money.

sap: a stupid person; someone who is naive.

If Nelson wasn’t such a sap, he’d realize that his old girlfriend doesn’t want him to call anymore.

Say what?: What did you say?

Says who?: according to what authority.

A: You can’t park here.

B: Oh yeah? Says who?

scaredy cat: someone who is afraid (commonly used by children, but adults might use it, too)

You can’t go to sleep without a nightlight? Don’t be such a scaredy cat!

scatterbrain: a person who can’t concentrate or remember things well.

Our teacher was a real scatterbrain today. She couldn’t remember which homework assignment she gave us.

schmooze: to socialize; to go to a party and talk, especially when related to business.

If you want to get ahead in the company you work for, sometimes you have to schmooze with people you don’t like very much.

score: to get something good.

Tito scored front row tickets to a U2 concert.

screw: to cheat or put someone in a bad position.

Helen got screwed by a car dealer when she traded in her old car.

screw around: play around; to do things without seriousness.

You’d better stop screwing around and get your homework done.

screw up: to make a big mistake.

Many Americans are very mad at rich people and Republicans who screwed up the economy.

scrounge: to try to find something; to scavenge.

Every morning Justin scrounges around his room looking for clean clothes to wear.

scuz bag: a dirty person; physically or morally unclean.

The scuz bag who lives down the street was caught peeking into his neigbors’ house.

scuzzy: the quality of dirtiness.

Don’t you feel kind of scuzzy if you go more than two days without taking a shower?

see-through: transparent; something light; easy to see through and see behind something.

A lovely woman in a see-through blouse caught the attention of everyone at the party.

sell out: to trade popularity or skill for money; to create art or entertainment that appeals to a large audience.

This was a great band until they sold out. Now they’re music is really boring.

set (one) back: to cost

How much is a new Apple computer going to set me back?

set of wheels: a car

Jason got a new set of wheels with money he saved over the last two summers.

settle for: to take something that is less than satisfying.

When Wendy was told she didn’t get into her first choice of a college, she settled for her second choice.

shades: sunglasses

Nice pair of shades! Where did you get them?

shaft: putting someone in a bad position.

The coach gave Ed the shaft by pulling him out of the game and making him sit on the bench.

shake it: hurry up

Hey, the movie starts in ten minutes. Let’s shake it!

shape up: improve your behavior; try to do better.

Tony’s behavior at school had better shape up or else he’s going to lose his parents’ respect.

sharp: stylish; well-groomed. (often used for men, but possible to use with women)

Duane looks really sharp in that jacket.

shebang: the whole thing; all of it; everything.

Tina and Mark paid for their daughter’s wedding. The whole shebang cost them $10,000.

shlep: carry something heavy.

Our building doesn’t have an elevator, so we have to shlep everything up three flights of stairs.

shmuck: a stupid person; a name given to a person for foolishness or insensitivity.

Brad feels like a shmuck because he forgot today was his girlfriend’s birthday and he didn’t buy her anything.

short: not having enough money.

The tickets are $30 a piece, but if you’re short, I’ll lend you some cash.

shot: in bad condition.

The tires on that car look like they’re shot. They’ll have to be replaced really soon.

show-biz: the entertainment industry; the business of entertainment.

Instead of going to college, Sandra moved to Los Angeles and tried getting into show-biz.

shush: be quiet.

A couple of students were talking while everyone was taking a test, so the teacher told them to shush.

shut up: stop talking

Shut up! I can’t think!

sick: cool; interesting (this slang is very new, so not everyone will recognize it. Popular among very young people.)

Oh, man, that’s sick. (That’s really great!)

sign on: to go onto a website or provide a password for entry.

Do you remember what your password is? If not, you won’t be able to sign on.

sign up: to agree to become part of something; to join a group or a team.

It’s really easy to sign up as a member to this website.

sissy: a man whose behavior is unmanly; a man or boy who behaves like a girl or a woman.

Two fifth-grade boys who called Robert a sissy on the playground were told to apologize to him.

sit tight: wait

Just try to sit tight until dinner is ready. Then you can eat.

sitting pretty: in a good position; in a good economic situation.

My husband and I are sitting pretty now that we both have jobs.

skip: miss; don’t go to something.

It’s not a good idea to skip a lot of meetings if you want to get ahead in the company you work for.

slang: words and expressions that are popular among native speakers of the language; language used and created by younger peope.

It’s hard to understand some Americans when they speak because they use so much slang.

sleaze: something dirty; a person whose behavior is offensive and immoral. (use as a noun)

The guy who works at that liquor store is kind of a sleaze. He’s always looking at dirty magazines.

sleazy: something or someone dirty and immoral (use as an adjective)

Tanya doesn’t like to watch sleazy movies but her boyfriend does.

sleeper: a person whose activities and beliefts are secret ; something that is unknown suddenly becomes known.

Raj was a sleeper agent until he was found to be carrying some important documents. The government put him in jail.

sleep with: have sex with.

Vietnamese women never sleep with men who aren’t their husbands. They’re very faithful.

slick: cool; stylish.

That’s a pretty slick trick. How did you do that?

slo-mo: short for “slow motion.”

After the referees watched the play slo-mo, frame by frame, they changed their call.

slowpoke: a person who moves, walks, or drives slowly.

The guy driving ahead of me is such a slowpoke. It looks like he’s a really elderly driver.

slug it out: fight

Everyday Democrats and Republicans slug it out in Congress when making new laws.

slurp: to make noise while drinking or eating something that is wet, like soup.

In some countries it’s okay to slurp your soup, but not in the United States.

smack: hit

Amanda got tired of getting smacked by her boyfriend, so she left him.

small fry: someone who doesn’t have power or influence.

The police usually don’t go after the small-fry drug dealers. Instead, they try to catch the big-time smugglers who bring drugs in from overseas.

small time: not important. (often used in reference to illegal activity, similar to small fry.)

My uncle is a small-time gambler, but last week he went to Vegas and won over a $100,000.

smart-ass: a peson who isn’t very respectful and speaks with disrespect.

If you weren’t such a smart-ass, maybe you’d have more friends.

smarty pants: a person who tries to be really smart; a smart person.

The smarty pants who sits in the front of the classroom wastes everyone’s time by asking the teacher a lot of questions.

smooch: kiss.

Ed and Hilda were caught at work smooching in the copier room, and now everyone in the office knows about it.

snap: something easy and fast.

This recipe is a snap. It’ll only take about ten minutes to make.

snatch: to take something quickly; to take by force.

A young teenager snatched a purse out of the hands of an elderly lady walking down the street.

snazzy: nice; stylish; cool; something fashionable that looks good.

That’s a really snazzy tie you have on. Where did you get it?

snooze: sleep; nap.

I usually try to catch a snooze in the afternoon before going out to teach at night.

soak: 1. to put something in water for a long time; 2. to cheat someone.

1. If you soak that in soap and water for a couple of hours, the stain should come out.

2. Tyrone took his kids to a baseball game and got soaked on over-priced hot dogs and beer.

softy: someone who agrees easily to a request.

The teacher is too much of a softy to ever give detentions to students, so they take advantage of him and don’t behave properly in class.

somebody: a person who is famous, rich, or powerful.

A: Who’s that woman in the dark sunglasses?

B: I don’t know. She must be a somebody because everyone is pointing at her and staring.

space out: lack concentration; to forget easily.

Today was my wife’s birthday, but I totally spaced it out until she reminded me.

spam: unwanted email (can be used as a verb or as a noun)

There’s so much spam in my inbox, I can’t tell which messages are good and which messages are bad.

stats: numbers and percentages, often used to make comparisons–short for “statistics”

Jose Fernandez is a great baseball player, but his stats don’t look too good this season.

step off: get away; back away; don’t get too close to me (often used in confrontations).

If you don’t step off, I’m going to hurt you!

stick around: stay; don’t go anywhere.

A: How long can you stick around today?

B: I can stay here until 4:00.

straight: okay; even.

You don’t have to give me any money. We’re straight.

street people: people who spend a lot of time walking around city streets; people who hustle or live on the street.

The steet people in downtown Minneapolis are sometimes noisy and rude.

street smarts: an understanding of life in a big city; the ability to survive in a tough area of a city.

Tony doesn’t have a lot of street smarts. That’s why he always gets robbed when he goes downtown.

strike it rich: make a lot of money.

A group of factory workers got together to buy some lottery tickets and struck it rich when one of their tickets one the lottery.

stoked: to be excited about something.

This weekend is going to be great! I’m pretty stoked about it.

suck: to be of bad quality; to say a situation is bad.

This movie really sucks!

sure thing: something that is very likely to happen; a high possibility.

Now that Juan’s loan application has been approved, it’s almost a sure thing that he’s going to get a new car.

sweat: worry; show concern.

Try not to sweat the small stuff; focus on things that are really important.

sweat it out: to worry; to work hard.

It looks like we’re going to have to sweat out another downturn in the economy.

sweet: really good; cool. (This is a very popular word among young people.)

That’s a sweet guitar.

sweet-talk: complimentary language.

It’s amazing how a little sweet-talk increased his sales figures for the month.

rack up: 1. to accumulate over time; 2. to win or lose something again.

1. It’s easy to rack up a lot of personal debt when you use credit cards.

2. The team racked up their fifth loss of the season with last night’s defeat.

rag: to complain; to say negative things.

My girlfriend keeps ragging about her roommate. She should just find another place to live.

rap: a style of modern music rooted in African American culture, now prevalent around the world.

Juan’s father hates the sound of rap. He prefers more traditional music.

rapper: a performer of rap music. (also, rap star)

Biggie Smalls is a rapper whose life is portrayed in Notorious, a recently relased film biography of his life.

rat race: competition in the world of work; competition in business.

Since joining the rat race, Tony has aged very quickly from all the stress he experiences at work.

raunchy: usually entertainment that is a little dirty, a little vulgar.

Madonna is a talented performer, but some of her videos are a little too raunchy for the tastes of some people.

raw: unpracticed; without covering.

This band has a great, raw sound, but they need to practice a little more before they perform in public.

raw deal: a bad situtation; unfairness.

African Americans got a raw deal when they were brought to the United States from Africa as slaves.

razzle-dazzle: flashy style.

She’s a very good singer, but I can do without all the razzle-dazzle that goes on behind her.

read: to understand.

It’s hard to get a good read on the new boss. His mood doesn’t change very much.

red-hot: popular; something everyone wants to buy.

Those t-shirts are so red-hot, they’re sold off the shelves as soon as they arrive in the stores.

redneck: a white person who is not very well-educated, likes to shoot guns, drive big trucks, and takes pride in being a little stupid or backward. Most live in the southern part of the U.S. but they can be found almost everywhere–except in the cities.

Billy Bob is kind of a redneck because of his racist and intolerant view of blacks and Latinos.

red tape: government paperwork; bureaucracy.

Starting a business is difficult enough without all the red-tape a peson has to go through to get it started.

rep: short for “representative” or “reputation.”

Syndy said she didn’t want to go out with Tad because it would give her a bad rep.

repo: short for “reposession.”

Our neighbors had their car taken in the middle of the night by a repo man.

retro: something kind of old, at least 20 or 30 years.

Retro styles of the 1970s are still popular these days.

revolving door: a situation in which people come and go very quickly.

The job was so difficult, it quickly became known as a revolving door at that company, and no one wanted to go through it.

right on: hat’s good; that’s correct; yes. (used to express agreement or happiness)

A: It looks like we’re going to get a raise this year.

B: Yeah! Right on!

rights: your protection under the law; in the United States, protection under the U.S. Constitution–the law of the land.

Did you say the police just came into your house without permission from a judge? They can’t do that. You should know your rights.

rinky dink: something of poor quality.

Joan wants to leave her rinky-dink apartment and find something bigger.

rip off: cheat; to trick a consumer into making a bad purchase.

I feel like I got ripped off when I bought these shoes, so I’m going to take them back.

rip on: to criticize; to say bad things about someone or something.

Nelson has to stop ripping on his kids.

rob the cradle: to marry or have a relationship with a person who is much younger.

Terry likes his new girlfriend, but with a 20-year difference in age, he’s really robbing the cradle. It makes him a little uncomfortable

rocky: difficult; a situation with a lot of problems.

Their marriage entered a rocky period, but they worked through their problems and decided to stay together.

roll: go; leave.

Is everyone ready to roll? Yes? Okay, let’s roll.

rookie: a person who is a new member of a sports team or other organization.

A rookie cop shot and killed someone who turned out to be completely innocent of any wrong-doing.

root for: to support; to cheer for.

A: Which soccer team are you rooting for?

B: Manchester United.

rubber: prophylactic protection for sexual activity; also called a “condom.”

Henry keeps a rubber in his wallet just in case he gets lucky, but he never does.

rug rats: small children, usually under the age of three or four. Called “rug rats” because they crawl a lot on soft carpeted surfaces.

With four rug rats at home, Kurt sometimes doesn’t mind spending a few extra hours at work.

run: to leave quickly.

Oh no! Look at the time! I’ve got to run.

runaround: to avoid a subject; to be indirect.

When the president of the company was asked in a TV interview about the pollution created by his factory, he gave the interviewer the runaround and then quickly left the TV studio.

queen: a man who dresses and acts like a woman (also, drag queen).

At first Harold thought the drag queen on the corner was a woman, but then he realized it was really a man.

queer: a person who is gay; something that is unusual.

Tom thought that Reginald was only kidding when he said he was queer, but he wasn’t kidding.

quick: smart.

She’s not too quick, is she?

quick-witted: smart and able to think of funny or intelligent things to say very quickly.

Bill Maher is a quick-witted television talk-show host. Conan O’Brien is also very quick-witted.

quick and dirty: fast but not high quality.

George Bush’s approach to combating terrorism in the world has been quick and dirty without considering the consequences of world opinion.

quick-fix: a fast approach to solving a problem, sometime it’s only temporary.

Tax rebates are a quick fix for helping the economy, but in the long-term Americans have to learn how to save more money.

quickie: something that happens very quickly, sometimes a drink, a game, or a sexual experience.

Let’s go into Hannigan’s for a quickie before going home. (an alcoholic drink)

quits: to stop doing something.

She doesn’t know when to call it quits. Instead, she works long hours at the expense of her social life.

panic attack: sudden concern; a feeling of doom.

Vernon experienced a panic attack when a police car parked in front of his house and walked up to his front door.

pan out: happen; go as planned.

Our plans for a trip to Florida didn’t pan out this year.

park: to put something or someone in a place; to sit down.

Park yourself anywhere.

pass out: to lose consciousness.

A couple of young women passed out on Cedric’s couch during the party. They had too much to drink.

pay dirt: a large amount of money.

After striking pay dirt with some good stock investments, the Johnsons took their profits and retired in Arizona.

pay (one’s) dues: to work hard for little or no compensation, early in one’s life or at the beginning of a career.

Because Maurice paid his dues in the 1980s, he doesn’t believe he has to work on the weekends as the new employees are doing now.

payoff: to benefit with money or a good result.

Once 12 years in college and medical school are over, Angela is expecting a big payoff in the form of doctor’s salary.

peach: a nice person; an attractive woman

Thanks for helping me with that project. You’re a peach.

pee: urinate; go to the bathroom. (not always appropriate)

Someone peed all of the floor in the men’s bathroom.

peppy: full of energy.

You don’t look too peppy today. Did you stay up all night?

pet peeve: something that bothers you more than other things.

Old chewing gum under desks and tables is our teacher’s pet peeve, so she doesn’t allow gum in the classroom.

pic: picture, usually digital.

Hey, send those pics you took at the concert last night to my email.

pick-up: to attract someone romantically and form a relationship, usually a short relationship.

The girls that Todd and Matt picked up at the bar last night turned out to be married women.

pick up on: understand; come to recognition or understanding. (sometimes said with sarcasm)

A: It looks like unemployment is going to get worse in the United States this year.

B: Yeah, I’ve picked up on that.

piece of cake: something that is easy.

That test was a piece of cake. I finished it ten minutes early.

pig: someone who eats or drinks large amounts of food and drink.

Never try to share a pizza with Roger. He’s such a pig, he’ll try to eat most of it as quickly as possible.

pig out: eat a lot of food.

A day before the big race, the contestants went to an Italian restaurant and pigged out on pasta and pizza.

pin down: to identify; to make a choice.

We’re trying to pin down a date to have a neighborhood party this summer.

pink slip: notification of the loss of one’s employment; to lose a job.

Most of the workers at the clothing factory received their pink slips last week, and now they have to find new jobs.

pipe down: be quiet; talk more quietly.

If you kids don’t pipe down, and I’m going to have to ask you to leave the library.

pizzaz: energy; style; modern; new.

This is a good restaurant, and the food is good, but I wish we had gone somewhere that had a little pizzaz to it.

play along: to make someone believe that you don’t know something is happening or something is true. Similar to “play dumb.”

Cindy knew that a surprise party had been planned for her birthday, but when it came time for the surprise, she just played along with it.

player: a person, usually a man, who is available to women romantically. (You can also say “playboy,” but it sounds a little old fashioned; however, “playboy” also indicates that a man is rich.)

She’d consider marrying him if he wasn’t such a player.

play ball: play a game; cooperate with other people; do things without litigation.

It was hard to get the other side to play ball with us, so we just took them to court.

play games: to do something without seriousness; to make life difficult for another person; to make stupid decisions without understanding how it will affect others.

We made a good offer on the house that we wanted to buy, but the sellers decided to play games with an unreasonable counter-offer.

plug: to give an endorsement for commercial gain.

Do you mind if I plug my latest CD when I appear on your webcast?

poke fun: to make fun of or laugh at someone; to say things that aren’t nice about someone or something.

You shouldn’t poke fun at people who have physical or mental disabilities.

poop: excrement from an animal or a human being.

Yuck! I just stepped in dog poop and it’s all over the bottom of my shoes.

pop: carbonated beverage; Coke, Pepsi, 7-Up.

Let’s stop at that gas station to get some pop.

pop for: pay for another person’s expenses.

The boss is going to pop for a company party this summer at an expensive restaurant.

pop up: something happens suddenly or wthout prior notice; a surprise.

I’m sorry I can’t go to your birthday party this weekend. Something just popped up and now it’s impossible to for me to get there.

pork: excessive government spending; spending projects that favor particular cities, states, and businesses.

The U.S. government intends to do good things for its citizens, but sometimes it’s criticized for putting too much pork into its budgets.

pot: marijuana; (also known as dope, grass, weed, reefer)

The police found pot in the glove compartment of a couple of teenagers that they stopped along the highway.

PR: public relations; publicity; television coverage.

A new PR campaign is going to start this year which warns Americans of the dangers of smoking.

pressure cooker: a situation in which someone feels a lot of pressure and stress.

Bob couldn’t continue to work as a stockbroker. It was a real pressure cooker to handle such large amounts of money.

psyched: excited to do something. (the “p” is silent)

Julie is really pysched about her new job. She can’t wait to start.

puke: throw up; vomit.

Someone puked in the girl’s bathroom and left a big mess.

pull (something) off: to get done something that is difficult; to succeed.

The soccer team pulled off a win despite the odds against them.

pull (one’s) leg: to joke with someone.

Did he tell you he won the lottery? I think he’s pulling your leg.

pull the plug: put an end to something; stop a program.

There was a great Chinese restaurant on this street until the city pulled the plug for food safety violations.

pump up: to say good things about someone; to flatter and complement.

That girl really knows how to pump up her friends.

punt: to pass a problem on to another person.

After wrecking the American economy, George Bush is going to punt the mess to his successor, Barack Obama.

pushover: a person who is easy to persuade; a person who does what he or she is asked–without question.

Our teacher is a pushover. We asked if we could have more time to finish our assignment, and she said yes.

put away: eat a lot.

The football team quickly put away an order of 30 pizzas.

put down: insult (use as a verb or as a noun)

Helena put down her boyfriend so often, he finally decided to break up with her.

put (something) on the line: gamble; risk.

Deidra is putting her reputation on the line by providing legal services for that gun shop.

put up: to contribute money; to put money down on a bet when gambling on an event.

Put up or shut up!

put (someone) up: allow someone to stay at your home.

Thanks to a friend who put us up for a few days, we saved a lot of money on hotel expenses.

putz: a dumb person.

The putz in front of me is driving with his hazard lights on.

O.D. : to do or consume too much of something (originally used for drugs but now can be used for anything or any activity).

She’s going to O.D. on pizza if she keeps eating it every day at work.

off: 1. finished or cancelled; 2. not working properly.

1. The meeting is off. Devon can’t make it.

2. My computer seems to be a little off today.

off the bat: immediately; spontaneously (usually used with “right”)

She got married right off the bat after graduating from high school.

okey-doke / okey-dokie: okay; no problem

A: You can put those boxes down right there.

B: Okie-doke.

old lady: a man’s girlfriend or wife.

I can’t go out with you guys tonight because my old lady want to me to take her out to dinner.

old man: one’s father.

My old man used to beat me all the time when I was a child. Now there are laws in the U.S. that offer more protection to children, but that kind of thing still happens.

on a roll: continuously successful.

After winning some money at the racetrack and a casino, Trevor feels like he’s on a roll.

on edge: nervous; jumpy.

Laura is on edge these days because she thinks she’s going to lose her job.

one-night stand: a quick, romantic relationship, sometimes involving sex.

Once Tony tired of meaningless one-night stands, he decided it was time to find someone to marry and settle down with.

on hold: something must wait.

We’re going to put our plans for business expansion on hold until we know what the economy looks like in six months.

on the dot: exactly, usually the exact time.

The boss wants us to be here tomorrow at 10 o’clock on the dot.

on the double: quickly; fast.

Come on, let’s go! On the double! We’re going to be late.

on the fly: to do something without adequate preparation. (this is sometimes not a good thing to do.)

The teacher seems to put her lesson plans together on the fly.

on the hook: responsible for something.

It looks like Tina is on the hook for another parking ticket.

on the line: immediately important.

Our jobs are on the line if we don’t start bringing in more business next month.

on the money: exact.

Al Gore’s ideas about global climate change are right on the money and confirmed by respected scientists around the world. Too bad the general American public is too stupid to understand the situation.

on the rocks: in a bad situation.

It’s too bad that their marriage is on the rocks.

on top of: in addition to.

On top of feeling tired, Sarah is also hungry.

once over, the: to tell someone of his or her faults; to yell at somone for making a mistake.

The police officer gave those teenagers the once over for not wearing their seatbelts.

oops: sorry, my mistake. (you can also say, “whoops.”)

Oops! I forgot to lock the door to my apartment.

open up: to tell the truth about something.

After 30 years, Donna is just now starting to open up about the problems she suffered as a child.

or else: the consequence will be negative; something bad will happen if you don’t do this.

You’d better clean up your room this afternoon–or else.

other half: the rich.

It would be nice to know what it feels like to live as the other half lives.

out: not popular.

Black has been out as a color for years, but those behind the times continue to wear it.

out of it: not able to concentrate; tired; disconnected.

A: I feel so out of it today.

B: Why is that?

A: I drank too much last night, and now I’ve got a really bad hangover.

out of line: improper; disrespectful.

No matter what you think of President Bush, it was still out of line and very disrespectful of that journalist to throw his shoes at the man.

out of whack: not working properly; out of alignment.

The transmission in my car seems to be a little out of whack. I need a mechanic to take a look at it.

nag: to ask for something again and again; to bother someone with questions and requests.

Tito’s wife nagged him to do work around the house so often, he finally decided to move out.

nail: to be successful in something; to do something well (sometimes it means to have sex).

The Vikings nailed another victory, and now they’re going on to the playoffs.

nark: to inform the authorities of illegal or unethical activity.

Natasha was getting free cable TV service for years until her neighbors narked on her.

neo-con: short for “neo-conservative, a person with a politically conservative, often Republican, view of world affairs. Favors preemptive attacks on sovereign nations.

The neo-cons advising George Bush in the first half of his administration, quickly found the door when their plans in Iraq went awry.

nerd: awkward and often brainy but not good at athletics, and often not good at social interaction.

Our new math teacher is kind of a nerd. He always has a calculator and several pens and pencils sticking out of his front pocket.

network: an ability to contact a group of people with similar interests, usually for the benefit of an individual or a company (a word often used in business settings).

Oscar used his sharp networking skills to get another job soon after he was laid off.

never mind: it’s not important; it doesn’t matter; no problem.

A: Do you still need help?

B: No, never mind. I’ve found what I was looking for.

nickel and dime: to pay small amounts of money, suddenly amounting to a large amount.

Every year it seems as though the schools nickel and dime the parents to death by asking for more financial support.

nightie night: goodnight.

nit-pick: identify small problems; complain about everything.

If you keep nit-picking the way I cook, I’m not going to make dinner any more.

nitwit: a stupid person.

The pharmacist is a total nitwit. He gave me the wrong prescription, and he overcharged me for the medication.

no-go: something that isn’t going to happen.

The game tonight is a no-go because of the weather.

no good: poor quality; a bad product (similar to “not good”).

We had to throw out the apples because they were no good.

no-no: a bad situation

Smoking inside public buildings is a big no-no.

no show: someone doesn’t come to an event, an appointment, or a meeting–often without calling.

Dr. Johnson’s 3:00 appointment was a no-show, so he left his office to go play some golf.

no sweat: no problem; something easy.

A: Can you lend me 20 bucks?

B: Sure, no sweat.

no way: no; absolutely not; impossible.

He’ll have to take out a loan because there’s no way he’s going to have enough money to buy a new car.

not so hot: not good.

A: How do you feel today?

B: Not so hot. I think I’m going to stay in bed and get some rest.

not so much: something isn’t good, especially in comparison to something else.

I like the way this band sounds, but as for the one that play earlier–not so much.

not to worry: don’t worry.

A: Oh no! I forgot to bring my wallet.

B: Not to worry. I have some money I can lend you.

no win: a situation in which no one benefits.

Geraldo and Jose decided that a fight would put them both into a no-win situation at work, so they decided to just try to get along with each other.

number one: the best; the biggest.

Toyota is now the number one automaker in the world because they make great cars.

nut job: a crazy person; someone you dislike because his or her behavior is unusual.

The guy who decorates his house with empty glass bottles is a real nut job.

nuts and bolts: the important parts of something.

Do you understand the nuts and bolts of our program?

nutty: a little odd; unusual.

A bake sale seems like a nutty way to raise money for a school. There has to be a better way to do that.

make a killing: make a lot of money; to do well.

We made a killing after the concert last night and sold out of t-shirts.

make a pass at: to try to attract someone romantically.

He didn’t realize she was making a pass at him until someone told him she liked him.

make it: to be successful.

It’s hard to make it in the restaurant business because there’s so much competition.

make out: 1. profit; result; 2. kiss.

1a. How did we make out last year?

1b. We made over $100,000.

2. A police officer caught a couple of teenagers making out in the parking lot and told them to go somewhere else. (“make out” is very popular among young people to describe the act of kissing.)

max out: spend to the limit, usually on credit cards.

mean: very good. (not easy to use for people just learning English)

My mother makes a mean apple pie.

meanie: a mean person; a person who doesn’t give you what you want.

Why can’t I borrow your car? Why are you being such a meanie?

meat and potatoes: basic needs; minimum requirements.

Troy is a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy. If you try to serve him something fancy, he won’t eat it.

mega: a large amount; something very big. (often used as a prefix)

We’re going to the Megamall today. Do you want to come? (A lot of Minnesotans call the Mall of America the Megamall.)

mellow out: calm down; don’t be so angry.

If Sandy doesn’t start mellowing out at work, she’s going to get fired because everyone is sick of her attitude.

mental: a little crazy; abnormal behavior (but not really crazy).

When she found out her cat ran away, she went mental for a few days trying to find it.

mess around: to kiss or have sex.

Zoe was caught messing around with her boss, and they both got in big trouble.

mess up: make a mistake.

When Nasra messed up her test, the teacher let her take it again.

miffed: slightly angered; a little angry.

Why did the neighbors get so miffed when the children ran across their lawn?

mileage: some benefit; something extra. (normally used for cars and the number of miles put on the engine)

Let’s see how much more mileage we can get out of this computer. It’s only three years old.

milk: to take something; take advantage.

An elderly couple down the street was milked out of their retirement savings by a con man.

million bucks: a good feeling, emotional or physical; to look good.

Sandra looks like a million bucks after a couple of weeks in Miami.

miss the boat: lose the opportunity; fail to take action.

You’re going to miss the boat if you don’t get in on this. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime.

Mister Nice Guy: a nice person, usually a man. (sometimes used with sarcasm).

Don’t pretend to be Mr. Nice Guy with me. I know what you really want.

mix-up: a mistake.

There was a mix-up at the grocery store when Alejandro took the wrong shopping cart.

mojo: strength; ability.

A couple of espressos will get your mojo working for you fast.

mom and pop: a small business, usually a family-owned business.

The mom-and-pop grocery store down the street had to close when a Walmart opened in town.

monkey around: fool around; try to figure out something through the use of an object.

If you monkey around with a new cell phone long enough, you won’t have to read the owner’s manual.

mooch: to beg; to ask for something; to benefit from the work of others.

Those two little boys were trying to mooch a couple of quarters from that little girl, but the teacher walked over and stopped them.

moocher: a person who begs for things; a person who mooches.

You can’t get through life by being a moocher. At some point, you have to work for your own money.

mother: something large; something powerful; the genesis of something. (be careful–this can be associalted with vulgar language).

Greed and lust for money is the mother of all evil.

mouth off: to talk to someone with disrespect.

If you mouth off to your teacher again, she’ll make you go to the principal’s office.

move: sell; to be purchased by customers very quickly.

If those shirts don’t starting moving, we’ll have to put them on sale at 50 percent off.

mud-slinging: to say negative things about someone, somtimes lying.

Politicians are often guilty of mud-slinging right before an election, and the voters really get tired of it fast.

mushy: 1. soft; 2. overly sentimental or romantic.

1. The customers aren’t buying the mangos because they’re mushy.

2. Juan’s girlfriend started to get too mushy with him all the time, so he ended the relationship.

mystery meat: meat that appears in fast food or in a cafeteria; unidentifiable and processed meat–usually a chicken, beef, or pork product.

The school calls them chicken fingers, but it looks like mystery meat to me.

lame: not good; uncool; not up to expectations.

That movie was so lame, we walked out after 20 minutes.

later: goodbye

A: I’ll see you tomorrow.

B: Okay, later.

laid back: easygoing; relaxed;

It’s hard to believe how laid back he can be, especially because he works as a police officer.

lean and mean: small and strong.

After laying off almost half of its employees, the company feels lean and mean and able to compete against other, similar companies.

left field: far away from the center of something; in the wrong position or to have the wrong idea.

When Abigail tried to warn her family about the dangers of global warming, they thought she was out in left field, but now almost all of them believe she was correct.

lemon: a bad car; a bad product.

To avoid buying a lemon, it’s a good idea to check with Consumer Reports and see what they have to say about the car.

lickety-split: very fast.

When it started to rain, everyone watching the soccer match ran to their cars lickety-split.

like: you know; uhhh (used as a non-word)

What do you want to do, like, when you finish college?

lingo: words; unusual expressions.

There’s a lot of new lingo that comes into English when new technology becomes popular.

lip: talking back; to be disrepectful with words–usually when kids talke to adults.

Don’t give me any lip about cleaning your room!

little black book: a book full of womens’ phone numbers that a man keeps. The women are old girlfriends or romantic acquaintances0

Mike had to give up his little black book when he got engaged to Samantha.

loaded: drunk

We got so loaded last night. Now I have a big hangover.

local: a person who lives in the area.

You can tell that this is a restaurant that all the locals go to because everyone knows each other.

long haul: a long period of time.

Right now it looks like we’re losing money, but over the long haul, our investmens will be okay.

looker: a beautiful person or a thing.

The new receptionist is a real looker. All the men in the office try to find an excuse to talk to her.

loose canon: a person who speaks without thinking about is said; someone who says dumb things.

Victor would be a good politician if he wasn’t such a loose canon.

lose (one’s) cool: to get really mad.

Mohammed lost his job because he lost his cool at work and swore at his boss.

lose (one’s) cookies: to throw up; vomit. (also, toss (one’s) cookies.)

Teresa drank too much at the party and lost her cookies afterwards.

lose (one’s) marbles: go crazy.

I’ve been waiting to see the doctor for the last hour and it feels like I’m going to lose my marbles.

loser: someone who makes bad choices in life; someone who is unfortunate or unsuccessful.

Matt is such a loser. He can’t keep a job longer than a couple of months.

low-ball: a low offer of money for something.

The people who looked at the house across the street made a low-ball offer and it was accepted by the sellers.

low-down: information; the truth.

Give me the lowdown on Victoria. Is she single? Does she have a boyfriend?

low-life: a person who is not respectable; a bad person.

The low-life that hangs out around that playground got caught selling drugs.

low profile: an attempt at keeping activities secret; not in public view.

Sylvio is trying to maintain a low profile in his community after winning several million dollars in the lottery.

luck out: to be lucky.

Goodwin lucked out when the met his girlfriend. She’s a really nice person.

K: 1000 (usually an amount of money)

He made 100K last year as a lawyer. (100K = $100,000)

karma: an idea that one’s good or bad behavior can be spread from one person to the next.

There’s been a lot of bad karma going around the office these days since Alice started gossiping about the boss.

keel over: fall over from sickness; to suddenly die.

I felt like I was going to keel over after eating that turkey. It wasn’t cooked long enough.

kibosh, put the _____ on: to stop something; to end quickly.

It was a great party until the police arrived and put the kibosh on all the fun we were having.

kick: to stop doing something.

It’s very hard to kick smoking if you’ve done it your entire life because nicotine is addictive.

kick in: to contribute, usually money.

We’re all kicking in a little bit of money for Jose because his mother died and he needs to return to Mexico.

kick it: to spend time with someone; to hang out.

Instead of going out with the boys, Reggie was kicking it with his girlfriend last night.

kicks: laughs; amusement; fun,

Just for kicks, let’s so what happens if we put a live mouse in Maria’s apartment.

kill: 1. to use something completely; to finish; 2. to get extremely angry at someone and express anger.

1. Let’s kill these beers and go somewhere else.

2. Henry’s father is going to kill him after he sees what happened to the car.

killer: something really good.

This pizza is killer! We have to come to this place more often.

kink: a mistake.

A winter storm put a kink into our famiy’s travel plans. We had to take a different flight, and we lost a day of vacation.

klutz: a clumsy person; someone who makes a lot of physical errors.

Jimbo is such a klutz, his mother never lets him go into stores with a lot of breakable items.

knock: insult

You say you don’t like to ice skate? But you’ve never gone ice skating before. Don’t knock it until you try it.

knockout: a beautiful woman.

The police officer who gave me a ticket was a knockout. She could probably get a job as a model.

know-it-all: someone who is very smart or who pretends to know the answer to everything. (not a good thing to be)

If she wasn’t the biggest know-it-all in the school, she’d have more friends.

knucklehead: someone who does dumb things.

The knucklehead who made my sandwhich forgot to put the meat in it.

kook: a crazy person.

Our next door neighbor is quite a kook. He really believes that the world is going to be invaded by people from outerspace within the next year.

kosher: something that is okay; something that meets proper guidelines. (orignally used to describe food approved for consumption by Jewish people who practice their faith)

I don’t think it’s kosher to put ketchup on eggs, but someone people do it.

jam: to play music with others.

Do you want to jam this weekend?

jammed / jammed up: stuck; immobile. (often used in the passive voice)

The photocopier got jammed up with paper and broke.

jam-packed: full of people; very crowded.

The train was so jam-packed with people it became a little hard to breathe.

java: coffee

This is a good, strong cup of java.

jaywalk: to cross the street illegally; to cross at a place that is not a crosswalk.

Tim got a ticket when he jaywalked right in front of a police officer.

jazzed: excited; interested in something.

Sue is really jazzed about going out with Ted this weekend.

jeez: wow! (used in place of “Jesus” which some take offense in when the name is used to express surprise, disgust, etc.)

Jeez! Did she get into another accident? That’s two in one week.

jerk: a difficult person; someone who goes out of his way to give you trouble–usually used with men.

This person we work with is such a jerk, no one wants to work with him.

jinx: to cause bad luck

If Rick hadn’t jinxed me, I would have bowled a lot better.

jitters: shaking from nervousness.

Harold gets the jitters if he goes a day without a drink.

jittery: feel uneasy or afraid.

An increase in robberies in our neighborhood is making everyone feel jittery.

jock: an athletic person; someone who is good at sports.

Ray tries to be a jock by joining every team possible, but he’s just not that good at sports.

Joe Six-Pack: a regular person who drinks beer.

Republicans used to rely on Joe Six-Pack for votes, but since they’ve ruined the economy, they’ve lost this once reliable voter.

Joe Schmo: similar to Joe Six-Pack, but without the beer. (pronounced jo shmo)

Any Joe Schmo can learn how to use a computer.

joint: 1. a marijuana cigarette; 2. a place to listen to music and drink beer.

1. The police caught Rudy with a couple of joints and took him to jail.

2. This was a good joint until they switched to country music.

juice: battery power.

You can use my cell phone if yours runs out of juice.

juiced up: drunk; high on alcohol.

The driver appeared to be juiced up, so the police gave him a breathalyzer test–which he failed–and so they arrested him.

jump: rob; to physically attack someone. (often passive)

An elderly couple got jumped in the park last night and all their money was stolen.

jump on: try to get something quickly.

Loyal customers usually jump on Apple products when they go on sale.

jump the gun: start something too quickly; do something before it’s time to begin.

A few people who jumped the gun in a fishing contest were disqualified.

junk: 1. something that is of bad quality; 2. stuff; anything.

1. Delia’s car is junk. She’s out looking for a new car.

2. Hey, can you move your junk off of this chair so I can sit down?

junk food: candy, chips, donuts, soda pop, etc. Food that comes packaged and is not nutritional.

Ever since Gladys gave up eating junk food, she’s lost over 30 pounds.

icky: not good; very unattractive.

Christine decided not to walk into the muddy water saying it looked too icky and smelly.

I.D. : an abbreviation for “identification.”

You will need a student I.D. if you want to get into the football game for free.

iffy: questionable; uncertain.

Whether or not the project will be completed on time is kind of iffy at the moment.

in: participating; a part of a group effort. (used with “be” and “count (one) in”)

If everyone wants to get a pizza, then I’m in. (You can count me in.)

in a jiffy: very fast.

I’ll have your order to you in a jiffy.

in line for: next.

Nguyen is in line for a big promotion at work.

in no time flat: very quickly.

We ordered some Chinese food and it was delivered in no time flat.

in one piece: all together; intact; without injury.

Somehow 20 people came out of the burning airplane in one piece while 145 others died.

in one’s pocket: to have a person’s loyalty.

Jennifer used to be in Pablo’s pocket, but now she’s seeing other guys.

in the loop: to have information that others might not have; to have some degree of power or influence.

I’m no longer in the loop at work.

in the doghouse: in trouble; to experience a lot of difficulty with another person.

I’ll be in the doghouse if I don’t bring my wife flowers on Valentine’s Day.

in the money: to suddenly have a lot of money.

After her uncle died and left a big inheritance, Lee was in the money.

in the works: something that is being planned right now; as we speak.

The boss doesn’t want to give us all the details right now, but he says that something big is in the works.

IOU: a note promising the payment of money–stands for “I owe you.”

Bedros wrote his landlord an IOU when he couldn’t pay the rent.

gag: to have a negative reaction; to choke. (“gag” rhymes with “bag”)

Carmela almost gagged on her sandwhich when her old boyfriend walked into the restaurant.

go gaga: to be very excited; extremely happy.

The teenage girls in the audience went gaga when the Jonas Brothers took the stage and began to perform.

gay: homosexual; a person who is attracted to someone of the same gender. (Recently used to describe objects or activities — That movie was so gay! — Some people find this particular use to be offensive)

Men found to be gay in some countries around the world are punished with prison or torture.

geek: a person who is very intelligent, works well with computers and/or new forms of technology, and might lack strong social skills.

He’s such a geek when it comes to computers. They’re his only interest.

Get

(notice how many expressions, idioms, and slang begin with the word “get.” This is a very important word to learn in all its forms: get / got / gotten / getting)

get a bang: to be amused or impressed; to feel some excitment.

The kids got a big bang out of watching the Hollidazzle Parade last night in downtown Minneapolis.

get a clue: pay attention; try to learn about something. (related to have a clue)

Her boyfriend isn’t very interested in her anymore. She’s going to have to get a clue and accept that.

get a grip: understand what’s happening; recoginize realilty.

Leonard has to get a grip and stop drinking so much if he wants to improve his chances of getting a job.

get a handle on; learn; learn something new.

I’m trying to get a handle on how my new cell phone works. It’s very complicated.

get a load of ____: look at this; this is interesting.

Hey, get a load of that squirrel. He lost his tail.

get a move on: go; get going; move faster

Let’s get a move on. We have to be in New York in three hours and we might not get there on time.

get by: have enough money to live; to survive.

It look like they’ll have just enough money to get by this month. Next month might be better.

get going: to leave; to go somewhere.

It’s time to get going. Goodbye.

get off: to be amused or aroused by something, sometimes the reasons for amusement or pleasure are not very nice.

She gets off on watching other people fight.

get on with (it): continue some activity; do something

He’s trying to get on with his life after losing both of his parents in a car accident.

get over: learn to live with; accept.

It’s hard to get over a life-changing event, but eventually we do.

get the hang of _____: learn how to do something.

Tara is starting to get the hang of skateboarding. When she first began, she was terrible at it. Now she’s getting good at it.

get the picture: to understand (often used as a question).

I’m sick and tired of l…. Get the picture?

get together: to meet someone; sometimes used for a large gathering of people.

Americans like to get together with family and friends during the holidays.

get-up-and-go: energy; motivation.

I‘m so tired! I just don’t have any get-up-and-go today.

get with it: learn what everyone else knows; pay attention to things happening around you.

Mathilda had been putting of the purchase of a cell phone for years, but when her granchildren got them, she decided to get with it an get one for herself.

gimmie: contraction of “give” and “me.” sometims this has a greedy and unpleasant sound; often used by children.

Two children playing with toys:

  • A: Gimmie that! I want it back right now!
  • B: Okay. Here.

giveaway: an open secret; something obvious. (often used with the word “dead” preceding it.)

The smile on his face was a dead giveaway, and suddenly everyone knew he was guilty of the crime.

give someone five: to slap someone’s hand in celebration or greeting.

You got the job! Great! Give me five!

give the finger: to stick the middle finger up while the others down. (this is a very rude gesture)

While I was driving on the highway, I noticed a man in a car behind me giving me the finger, but I wasn’t sure why. Perhaps he didn’t like my driving.

give the shaft and get the shaft. to put someone in a bad position.

It’s often poor people who get the shaft when the economy goes bad. Rich people never seem to suffer.

go all the way: do something to the point of completion; sometimes used for sexual activity resulting in intercourse.

When Miguel tried to go all the way with his girlfriend, Lupe, she told him she wasn’t ready.

go for it: do something; try to do something difficult

It’s hard to get into that university , but Natalia is going to go for it.

go-getter: a person who works hard and is ambitious.

At 19 years old, he’s a real go-getter with a successful business and great potential to become wealthy.

goof around: to play around; not to do something with serious intentions; to neglect responsibilities.

When the supervisor saw that the cashiers were goofing around at work, he fired them.

gotcha: 1. to understand someone; 2. to catch some. (this is a contraction: got + you = gotcha)

1. You want me to turn the wrench to the right? Okay, I gotcha.

2. Gotcha! Now I’m not going to let go of you.

green: 1. new; inexperienced; 2. clean energy source or non-polluting technology.

1. You’ll have to help her with that. She’s still a bit green.

2. Green is the new red, white, and blue. That means good, patriotic Americans try their best to save energy these days.

gross: something that makes you feel sick; a very unattractive object or situation.

It’s so gross the way he spits on the sidewalk.

groupie: a person (often young a woman) whose admiration of a performer results in constant, personal contact; a person who hangs around someone to excess.

He’s become so well-known as a guitarist, he’s even starting to attract groupies.

grungy: dirty; old.

These jeans are so grungy. Why don’t you throw them out?

grunt work: hard work; manual labor.

Why is it that people who do all the grunt work get paid the least while management gets paid the most?

guzzle: drink quickly; consume large amounts of liquid.

Tito’s car guzzles gas at about 12 miles per gallon. He’s thinking about buying a hybrid.

fake / fake it: to pretend something is real; phoney.

She said she had a good time, but I could tell she was just faking it.

fall for: to be attracted to someone; to be deceived, tricked, or fooled.

Zoe said that she spoke to Barack Obama on the telephone, and some of her friends fell for it. (They believed her lie)

fart / fart around: (a little vulgar but popular) 1. to expel gas; 2. to goof around or play around.

1. We could all tell that someone had farted in the classroom, but no one knew who it was.

2. You’ve got to stop farting around and get some work done.

fat cat: a rich person.

Investors are suddenly thinking seriously about investing in alternative energy now that the fat cats are getting involved.

fast food: food that is made and served very quickly, usually not healthy.

It’s not a good idea to eat fast food every day if you want to avoid health and weight problems.

faux pas: an embarrasing mistake; a social error (This is a French word. It’s pronounced fo paw )

He committed a slight faux pas by arriving at the dinner party half an hour early.

fed up: to feel anger toward someone or a situation; tired of something routine.

Most Americans are fed up with George Bush’s incompetent handling of the U.S. economy.

feel up: to feel a person’s body, sometimes unwanted touching of another person. (*use with caution)

When her boss tried to feel her up on the elevator, she reported his behavior to human resources and he got in big trouble with the company.

feel up to: want to do something. (notice that a gerund follows the word “to” in the example)

  • A: Do you feel up to seeing a movie today?
  • B: No, I don’t feel up to it.

fender bender: a car accident, usually a small accident

To avoid fender benders in parking lots, try parking at the far end and walk the extra distance.

finagle: to make something happen through hard work or trickery.

We were able to finagle new financing for our house which lowered our monthly payments.

fill (one) in: provide information; tell what happened.

Could you please fill me in on what happened at work yesterday. I was out sick.

fire away: ask me your question.

  • A: I’d like to ask a question.
  • B: Okay. FIre away.

fish: 1. try to get information; 2. a person of importance, sometimes a criminal.

1. The children in class fished for answers to questions about where life comes from.

2. The police caught a very big fish involved in illegal gambling and drugs.

five-finger discount: stealing from a store; shoplifting

Tony decided that a five-finger discount for a bottle of wine was worth the risk of getting caught by the store owner.

fixing to: going to; will

They’re fixing to get married next year.

fizzle: lose energy; slowly stop working

When business at the restaurant started to fizzle, Mario decided to look for another job as a cook.

flake: a person who is a little stupid. As an adjective, use flakey.

The teacher is such a flake. She always forgets what we did in class the day before.

flashback: to think back in time; to see the past clearly in your mind.

Are you able to flashback to a time in your youth and remember exactly what everything looked like?

flick: a movie, usually at a movie theater.

Who wants to go see a flick this weekend?

flip or flip out: to get very angry.

Jill’s mother flipped out when she found out her daughter was smoking cigarettes.

flip-flop: to change one’s mind.

Politicians are often said to flip-flop on the issues, but it might be more accurate to say that they compromise.

flip someone off or flip the bird: to give someone the middle finger. (in the U.S., sticking the middle finger up while the others are down is a very rude, insulting thing to do.

That guy just flipped me off. I’m going to kick his ____.

flower child: a person who was young during the 1960s and 1970s and participated in the youth culture of the time. Lifestyles focused on music, anti-war protests, some drug use, long hair, and environmental concern.

The flower children of the 1960s surprised many Americans with their ideas about politics and communal living.

fluke: something that happens by chance; something lucky or unlucky.

It was just a fluke that the tree branch was struck by lightning and crushed the car below.

flunk: to fail a test; to do a bad job at something.

After he flunked out of high school, he tried to get a job, but nobody wanted to hire him without a diploma.

fly: cool (this is a relatively new use of the word–not easy to use. Origin is African-American)

She looks so fly in those jeans.

fool around (with) : 1. to have a relationship outside of marriage or outside of an established relationship. 2. to experiment with something; to try to learn how something works.

1. My boss was caught fooling around with another woman, so his wife divorced him.

2. I spent all day fooling around with this computer program and it still doesn’t work right.

forget about it: don’t worry about it; it’s okay;

  • A: Thanks for all your help.
  • B: Forget about it. It was my pleasure.

fork over: to give; to give something with reluctance.

Okay, fork over that money you owe me.

for real: Really? Are you telling me the truth?

It’s free to get into the concert tonight? Is that for real?

for sure: yes; certainly; I agree.

  • A: They’re going to have to get rid of that ugly furniture.
  • B: Oh, for sure.

forty winks: sleep; sometimes it’s a nap.

If I don’t get my forty winks, I’m no good the next day.

four-letter word: a bad word; a swear word

Students caught using a four-letter word in class get in big trouble with the teacher.

freak / freak out: to be very upset; to be surprised and then get mad.

His mother freaked out when he told her he was going to joing the marines.

free lunch: something for nothing

There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

freeze: 1. stop working, usually for computers.

I can’t use my computer right now because it’s frozen. If it doesn’t unfreeze in a minute, I’ll have to restart it.

French kiss: a kiss that includes the tongue.

French kissing in public is not a cool thing to do.

fresh: something that is in style; something good.

The DJ is spinning some pretty fresh tracks. (music)

fret: worry.

The man next door frets too much about his daughter’s driving.

fruit / fruitcake: an unusual person; someone eccentric; sometimes someone who is gay.

The fruitcake down the street painted his house pink and purple.

fruity: not masculine.

Why is Bruce speaking with such a fruity voice? It sounds like he’s lisping.

full of it: to say things that aren’t true; to be false. (related to B.S.)

He so full of it. Why do you believe him when he says he’s making over $100,000 a year?

full of oneself: to have a very high opinion of oneself.

She’s so full herself, she won’t listen to anyone who tries to give her advice.

funky: odd; unusual; sometimes good.

Where did you find this funky music? I kind of like it.

funny business: suspicious activity; something that’s not right or something that might be illegal.

There was all kinds of funny business going on at that company before the police came in and shut it down.

eager beaver: a person who keeps busy and likes to work; a good volunteer.

All the people who stayed to clean up after the picnic were such eager beavers we finished in 15 minutes.

early bird: a person who arrives early, usually for some benefit.

When it comes to waking up on the weekend, I’m a real early bird. I get up at 5:00 in the morning.

easy: to say “yes” to something; to agree without objection.

When it comes to grading students, she’s really easy.

eat it or eat the loss: to take a loss; to accept some failure.

Our company will have to eat some big losses this year when we sell some of our assets.

ego trip: a person who has a very high opinion of himself or herself; to think highly of one’s abilities.

Since she won the skating competition, she’s been on a huge ego trip.

eighteen wheeler: a big truck with 18 wheels.

There’s an eighteen wheeler sitting on the side of the road with its lights on and engine running.

elbow grease: hard work; effort from using muscles.

You’ve got to put a little elbow grease into cleaning those pots and pans. They’re still dirty.

elbow room: space; enough room to feel comfortable.

Please! You’re sitting too close ! I need a little elbow room here in order to write.

empty nester: a person whose children have grown and left the hose.

A lot of empty nesters in the U.S. are now buying condominiums in lively downtown areas.

enough: stop.

Enough! I’m tired of hearing you kids argue. Enough is enough.

even-steven: to break even; not to lose money.

Because you paid for parking, I’ll pay for the tickets and then we’ll be even-steven.

eye-opener: a strong alcoholic drink; a dramatic experience.

Seeing so many people lose their jobs at work has been a real eye-opener.

dang: darn; wow; used to express frustration or surprise.

Dang! That’s a big building!

date: to have a romantic relationship; to go out with someone, usually to a restaurant or a movie or both.

They’ve been dating for the last year, and they might get married.

deadbeat: a person who doesn’t pay his debts or someone who doesn’t work and is always asking for money.

Those deadbeats who hang out on the corner every day are begging for money again.

dead duck: a person who is in big trouble.

His company went broke and now he’s a dead duck.

deck: hit; knock over with a punch.

Two angry drivers got out of their cars after an accident and then one decked the other.

DJ or deejay: a person who plays music at a nightclub or who plays music at a radio station. (noun or verb)

She’s going to deejay at a big party this weekend.

deep pockets: something you have if you are rich; a supply of money.

Although they lost a lot of money in the stock market, they’ve got pretty deep pockets and should be okay.

demo: a product that sits on a store shelf but isn’t for sale. Usually a TV, a computer, or some other big appliance.

Kumar got thirty percent off on his digital camera because it was a demo.

dibs, to have dibs on ____: to say that something belongs to you before someone else gets it; to make an early claim of ownership.

I’ve got dibs on that last donut. Don’t anyone touch it.

die: 1. to laugh uncontrollably; 2. to slowly fade away or become much less.

1. The audience was dying with laughter.

2. Business died out in that section of town and now most of the stores are closed.

ding-dong: a stupid person; someone you don’t like.

The ding-dong who sold me my shoes forgot to put one of them in the box. Now I have to go back to the store.

dish it out: to give someone a hard time or to say mean things to another person.

Roger really dishes it out to his employees when they make a mistake.

dog: a woman who isn’t attractive; a bad product.

The microwave that she bought at the store turned out be a dog, so she took it back.

doggy bag: a bag for taking home food leftover at a restaurant.

I can’t finish all this kung pao chicken. Let’s ask the waitress for a doggie bag.

do it: have a sexual relationship.

Do you think they’re doing it yet? They’ve only been going out for two weeks.

do (one’s) own thing: to do something that you enjoy; a hobby.

It’s important to be able to do your own thing on the weekends.

double-dip: to get more money from a job than a person has earned; to dip a single tortilla chip or potato chip twice.

When I saw Jane douple-dipping her chips at the party, I stopped eating the salsa because she has a cold.

double take: to look quickly look at something twice out of suprise; to be surprised.

The police officer did a double take when he saw what looked like a dog driving a car. It turned out to be a man with really long hair.

double up: to have to go from individual ownership to two people sharing something.

We’ll have to double up some of the students on the computers because there aren’t enough for everyone.

down: to be sad or depressed. (this word has many different meanings and variations, most of them related to sadness: down in the dumps, down on one’s luck, etc.)

  • A: Why does she look so down?
  • B: She just found out her cat died.

drag: a negative situation; something bad.

Going to this class is such a drag. The teacher is really boring.

DQ: Dairy Queen, a very popular place to get ice cream and other fast food.

Let’s go to DQ and get some ice cream cones.

drive crazy: to make someone crazy; to cause intense frustration.

My neighbor’s TV set is so loud, I can’t get to sleep at night and it’s driving me crazy.

dude: 1. a person; 2. a friend; 3. an exclamation of surprise or concern. (This is a very popular word among young people and it can have many different meanings depending on how it’s used.)

1. Go ask that dude over there if he knows what time the show starts.

2. Hey, dude! What are you doing today?

3. Dude! Be careful!

dump: 1. a messy or unclean house or apartment; 2. to put something down

1. Geraldo didn’t want to take Maria back to his apartment because it’s such a dump.

2. Go ahead and dump your laundry on the floor, and then we’ll put it in the machines.

call it quits: stop working and, maybe, leave the place where you work. Also, call it a day.

We called it quits after a 10-hour day and went out for a few beers.

can do: completely possible. Also used in the negative–no can do.

This company needs a can-do attitude if it wants to be successful.

catch-22: an impossible situation with no easy solution; a contradiction; illogical reasoning. This is a reference to a book, Catch-22, written by Joseph Heller about a bureaucratic military during World War II. This is hard to use, and it’s often misused, but it remains popular.

The harder I work, the more money I pay in taxes. It seems like a catch-22.

check it out: look at this; this is interesting; listen to me.

Check it out! I got the new Google phone!

cheesy: something kind of cheap; an appeal to popular taste in decorating and entertainment; not of high quality–sometimes regarded as an insult.

Where did she find that cheesy old coat? It looks like something from the 60s.

chick: a beautiful woman; a young woman. (some women don’t like the use of this word–it’s a little sexist.)

There were tons of hot chicks at the place we went to last night.

chicken: scared; afraid. (This is a very popular adjective)

If you’re too chicken to ask her out, I’ll do it for you.

chip in: to share the expenses; to contribute money.

Someone at the office is getting married so we’re all chipping in for a gift.

choke: to suddenly lose the ability to do something or win; to go from winning to losing.

The Cubs have a good baseball team, but they always choke at the end of the season.

chug: drink fast, usually beer.

Let’s chug these beers and get going.

clean: innocent of wrongdoing; not carrying a weapon. (You hear this used a lot on TV cop shows.)

The public thought he was guilty of murder at first, but then it turned out he was clean.

closet: secret (adjective); also in the closet, and out of the closet, usually used for someone who is hiding the fact that he or she is gay.

When he came out of the closet, he lost his job with the military.

cold: not friendly; unemotional.

Ali tried talking to Sara, but she was so cold towards him, he walked away.

come off: to appear; to make an impression.

She came off as a nice person at first, but then after we all got to know her, it turned out she was really mean.

come on: to show some romantic interest in someone.

She was coming on to my friend at the club, but he didn’t notice.

comp: (complimentary); free; payback.

We’re getting out tickets comp because we won a contest.

cool: great; interesting; good. (very popular)

This is a very cool song! What’s it called?

cool off: calm down; try not to be upset

You’d better cool off before you speak to him. You’re too angry right now.

cop: police officer (very popular)

The cops came when a shot was fired in the restaurant.

couch potato: a person who stays on the couch, watches TV, and usually eats.

She’d rather be a coach potato today than go to school on her day off.

corny: something that appeals to simple emotions; lacking in sophistication.

A lot of people say that movie is so powerful that it made them cry, but I thought it was corny and boring.

cough up: to give; to give with reluctance.

Tom’s sister couldn’t cough up enough money to pay her rent this month, so he helped her out.

crap: something bad; junk.

They have a bunch of crap in their backyard that needs to be thrown out.

crib: house or apartment. (African-American usage)

Let’s go back to the crib and get something to eat.

crush: 1. (noun) a fondness; deep romantic love, often one that can’t be fullfilled; 2. (verb, often used in the passive voice) to experience disappointment.

1. She has a crush on her teacher.

2. He was crushed to find out that he didn’t get that job.

cut it out: stop immediately.

My kids were fighting so I told them to cut it out.

cut the cheese: fart; expell gas (a little vulgar); a bad smell.

It stinks in here. Who just cut the cheese?

Learn American Slang
B

baby: 1. a person who complains all the time, or someone who always gets what he or she wants.

1. hate playing baseball with that guy. He’s such a big baby when he loses.

2. a person that you like, love, or are attracted to.

Hey, baby, let’s go out to dinner tonight.

3. something that’s valuable to you.

Take a look at these babies. (apples) I bought them at the grocery store today.

bad: good or tough (African-American slang)

He thinks he’s so bad now that he got those new shoes.

badmouth: to say someone bad about someone.

She was heard badmouthing her boss and that’s why she got fired.

bail: to leave someone without helping; to abandon

Don’t bail on me man. I really need you to help me.

bail out: help or financial assistance.

I need $100. Can you bail me out?

baloney: nonsense; something stupid

She wants me to work this weekend?! That’s a bunch of baloney.

barf: throw up, vomit; to have a negative reaction

I almost barfed when I saw the accident. There was blood and guts everywhere.

barfly: a person who is always at a bar, usually someone who drinks a lot of alcohol at a bar.

  • A:You’ve been a real barfly lately. What’s up?
  • B: Well, I don’t start work until the afternoon now, so I can stay up late.

beat the hell out of: to win easily in competition or a game. (“heck” is a good substitute for “hell.” Some conservative religious people really don’t like to hear the word–ever.)

Did you see the Twins play last night? They really got the hell beat out of them.

beats me: I don’t know

  • A: Who was the 36th President of the United States?
  • B: Beats me. Why don’t you look it up online?

beer belly: a big stomach from drinking too much beer.

If you party a lot, you have to start worrying about developing a beer belly after the age of 40.

be good: good-bye, usually when the absence is long.

  • A: Bye. See you later.
  • B: Okay. Be good. I’ll call you see next year.

better half: a husband or wife.

Before I buy this car, I’m going to have to talk to my better half.

Big Brother: the government. This is a reference to the George Orwell novel, 1984, critical of authoritarian government.

Big Brother does his best to keep people from doing drugs, but he can’t completely prevent this behavior.

big deal: a big problem; something serious

She came in late to work today, but her boss told her it was no big deal because the restaurant wasn’t busy.

big guy: often used when saying hello to a friend. Usually used by men.

Hey, big guy! What’s going on?

big of ____: good; admirable.

It was big of him to apologize for his mistake.

big money: a lot of money

It’s going to cost big money to get our car fixed.

bite the bullet: do something that’s difficult but important.

Next year I’ll have to bite the bullet and start looking for another job.

blast: a good time; something fun

This new video game is such a blast!

blah blah blah: used when someone talks too much or used in place of a lot of words.

The teacher went on an on, blah blah blah, about how important it is to study.

blow away: to make a big impression

The band was so awesome, they blew everyone away.

blow one’s mind: to make an impression on an intellectual level; something is interesting.

It blew my mind to see how many people came to my website.

bomb: to do a bad job, especially on a test.

After she bombed the test, the teacher let her take it over again and she got a better grade.

boobs: a woman’s breasts (use with caution. It’s not bad but in mixed company it might be better to say “breasts”)

Wow! She has big boobs.

booger: the stuff that’s inside your nose. (caution)

When the little girl sneezed, a big booger flew out of her nose.

book: 1. to make a reservation; 2. to leave a place quickly.

  1. I booked a flight for Las Vegas next weekend.
  2. The police are here! Let’s book!

buzz: a little high from drugs, alcohol, or caffeine.

Jerry got a big caffeine buzz off of his espresso. Does drinking coffee give you a buzz?

brain(s): intelligence; a smart person

The brain of the class always gets the best grades.

breeze: something that is very easy.

Although it might look hard, it’s a breeze to learn how to drive a car.

brownie points: credit for having done something good.

He’ll get brownie points from his wife if he cleans the bathroom.

B.S.: (abbreviation) Use with caution. Although you only use the initials, everyone knows what they stand for.

That’s a bunch of B.S. You’re lying to me!

bummer: a bad situation; something depressing or sad

I’m sorry you lost your job. That’s a bummer.

bum (one) out: (verb) to make someone feel sad.

Let’s not see a movie that bums us out. I want to see something funny.

burnout: to feel overworked or stressed. This results from working too much

Todd is starting to feel a little burned out from his job as a lawyer.

Idioms for Doing Business in the U.S.

across the board: in all areas of the business or the organization; an even effect.

The manager of our department announced that the company needs to make cuts across the board in order to save money.

bail out: to provide financial assistance in order to save a business from financial ruin.

The U.S. government bailed out GM by buying up shares of the company.

bottom line: the final result; money made or lost.

Before making any more investments in his company, he’ll need to take a close look at his bottom line.

bet on: to believe that a result will be good; to take a risk or a chance.

Melissa’s company is betting on consumer interest in green technologies in order to improve sales.

branch out: to make a company larger by adding more locations or more products.

They want to branch out into the southwestern part of the state.

break even: to show neither a profit nor a loss.

It’s a good thing we had a good year last year and saved our cash because this year we’re barely breaking even.

build up: to increase

We’ll need to build up our inventory before the busy holiday season.

buy drinks: to buy alcohol for other people, usually at a bar or a restaurant.

You should have gone out with us last night. The boss was buying everyone drinks to celebrate a good quarter.

buy on credit: to purchase something with borrowed money; to use a loan or a credit card to buy something.

We buy everything on credit and then pay it off at the end of the month.

buy out: to buy an entire company and take control of it; to pay an employee to leave a company, usually someone who is older and near retirement.

Do you think there will be a buyout? We might lose our jobs if that happens.

CEO: Chief Executive Officer = the head of the company.

The company’s stock fell sharply after it was announced that the CEO was leaving the company.

change course: to do something that is completely different; to change direction.

We’re changing course with the introduction of some new products next year.

do business with: work another person or company; to exchange goods and services for money.

It’s been a pleasure doing business with you.

double check: check twice; to look at information more than once.

Let me double check those numbers and I’ll get back to you.

figure out: to think of an answer oneself; to fix a problem.

After studying the problem over several weeks, Emril finally figured out why his customers weren’t coming into the store.

gangbusters: great; very successful.

At first we weren’t doing very well with our sales, but now we’re going gangbusters.

get back to: call back; return with information.

I’m sorry, I don’t have the name of the person who hosted the conference. Let me get back to you with that.

go public: to make ownership of a company available to the general public through the sale of shares (stock) in the company.

If I had purchased Apple when they went public, I’d be a very rich man right now.

hard sell: to work very hard at selling something; to push one’s products on a customer. (this is not a good thing to do!)

Kevin grew tired of the salesman’s hard-sell approach, so he quickly left the store.

in the black: the period during which a company shows a profit.

Many retailers aren’t in the black until around Thanksgiving.

in the red: the period during which a company shows a loss.

It looks like we’re going to stay in the red for the rest of the year.

keep at it: keep working; don’t give up.

Owning and operating a popular restaurant isn’t easy, but if you keep at it, you will succeed.

make out: to do well; to be successful.

Joe must have made out pretty well this week because he’s buying everyone drinks.

make a profit: to make money; subtract expenses from gross sales to find out the net profit.

Felicia’s store is going to make a very large profit on the sale of those computers.

make up: to consist of; to be a part of.

Our staff is made up dedicated professionals who take pride in their work.

(be) on the market: available to the general public for purchase.

The Chevy Volt won’t be on the market until later this year.

pay off: to pay all of something that was purchased on credit.

You should try to pay off your credit cards as soon as possible; otherwise, you’ll have to continue to pay a large amount of interest every month.

put out: produce; make; manufacture

They’re putting out the finest furniture that you can buy at these prices.

sell off: to sell one thing or to sell all the pieces of a company.

Uri decided to sell off his business and retire to Florida.

sell out: to sell all of a company’s products or tickets.

The children’s toys became popular so quickly that they sold out within a week. No one could find them anywhere.

ship out: to send products by mail.

The manufacturing plant in China will ship out the parts we need tomorrow.

take a loss: to lose money; expenses exceed sales; to sell something at a price that is higher than the cost of acquisition.

It’s okay to take a loss on that investment. We can write it off on our taxes.

take a nosedive: to go down; to suddenly decrease in value.

The stock we bought last year took a nosedive yesterday when its quarterly profits were announced.

take off: to do very well; to become successful.

After five years of struggling to succeed, our business is finally starting to take off.

take over: to become responsible; to take control of something; to become the new owner.

Ed Wilson is going to take over the position of CEO in August.

turnover: attrition; the constant change in employees hired and then lost by a company due to firing or quitting.

The rate of employee turnover is too high for this company. We don’t have enough experienced people at any one time.

tool: anything that helps you achieve a desired result: skills, software, incentives, rubrics, spreadsheets, databases, etc. (This is a very popular word used in business–so popular, in fact, that its overuse has turned it into a silly cliche)

Our company wants to use this software as a tool for reinventing itself.

tool box / tool kit: a collection of tools (described above)

We’re going to need all the tools in the tool kit in order to focus on this problem.

work on: to improve something; to create something new.

Danielle is working on a new sales presentation.

work out: to find a solution; to come to an agreement.

Do you think we can work out a deal? We really want to buy this car.

write off: to take a deduction on taxes; something that decreases the amount of money that is paid in taxes.

H

hairy: difficult; complicated.

The loss of a job creates a very hairy situation for a family.

hands-on: involved; to be part of something.

Her style of teaching second-graders is very hands-on. The students are always making things in the classroom

hands-off: not involved; allow others to do work.

The owner of the company takes a hands-off approach to management and allows his employees to make most of the big decisions.

hang it up: to stop doing something.

After a long career in politics, the Senator has decided to hang it up and retire.

happy hour: a time at a bar or restaurant when prices for drinks and food cost less. Popular during the week, especially Friday afternoons.

Let’s wait until happy hour starts before buying some drinks.

hardball: a tough, competitive situation. (“hardball” is a reference to baseball)

Ted’s company is going to have to start playing hardball if it wants to stay in business.

hard up for: desperate to get something; to desire something.

I feel pretty hard up for some good, fresh tomatoes.

has been: someone who is no longer famous; a former celebrity. (this looks like a verb but you use it as a noun)

She was once on every national magazine cover in the 1980s, but now she’s a has been and no one recognizesher.

hassle: a problem; something irritating. Used as a noun or as a verb.

After my car was towed, it was a big hassle and very expensive to go downtown and get it back.

haul ass: go fast (a little vulgar)

Let’s haul ass out of here!

have a ball: to have a very good time; to have fun.

We had a ball at the party last night. Everyone stayed up until three in the morning.

have a cow: to get angry

Zippo’s father had a cow when he found out his son was dating a girl of another religious faith.

have it: to be upset; to want something to stop.

The American people have had it with a government that doesn’t serve their needs. That’s why the Republicans lost and the Democrats won in the ’08 elections. ( “had it” is often used in the present perfect tense)

have it together: to be well-organized; to lead a respectable life.

I’m sorry, I just don’t have it together today.

have it good: to have a good situation, often used to describe one’s position at work.

Even though Michael has it really good right now, he still works on the weekends to make extra money.

have the hots: to like someone a lot.

She’s got the hots for one of her coworkers.

head: the top; the person who leads a group or a company.

The head of the corporation made some big mistakes and resigned.

heads-up: a warning or caution; watch out for this.

Our supervisor gave everyone a heads-up today and said that we needed to work a little harder in order to keep our jobs.

head trip: a person has a high opinion of himself or herself based on some past accomplishment.

She’s been on a big head trip ever since she appeared in that TV commercial.

heebie-jeebies: to feel a little sick or queasy at the mention or sight of something unpleasant.

Big hairy spiders give Janice the heebie-jeebies.

hell: a bad situation (Be careful with this word. some very conservative, religious people think it’s bad to use it, but it’s not. “Heck” is a good subsititute if you’re worried about eternal damnation.)

His car has been giving him hell lately, so he brought it in to bet it fixed.

hell of it: for no good reason.

Just for the hell of it, let’s see what happens if we buy a few lottery tickets this weekend.

hey: hi

  • A: Hey, Tony. How’s it going?
  • B: Hey, Paul. Good. How are you?

hick: a person who lives in the country (way outside of the city) and whose educational achievements are low. Often used with the word “stupid.” Voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004)

You know those stupid hicks who leave all their cars parked in the front yard? They had a big party last weekend and burned down their barn.

high: to feel light and dizzy from drugs or alcohol or both.

It doesn’t take Mario very much to get high. He’s often high at work.

high five: to slap a person’s hand in the air, usually done in celebration of an accomplishment.

High-five, man!

high tech: new technology; a product or machine that looks completely modern and new.

It’s fun to work at a job where everything is high-tech.

hip: cool; aware of current trends

Raya tries so hard to be hip, but she just looks silly in the clothes that she wears.

hippie: a person with long hair and nonconforming beliefs; someone whose antiestablishment ideas are similar to those of the 1960s and 1970s counterculture.

The hippies who live down the street turned their entire front yard into a garden.

hit the spot: to consume something that provides satisfaction; to eat or drink something good.

This cup of coffee really hits the spot.

hokey: phoney; overly sentimental.

Why do you like those hokey movies on TV? They always follow the same formula.

hold up: wait.

Can you hold up a minute? I have to tie my shoe.

holy cow: wow! (this is used as an exclamation when something suprising or amazing happens.)

Holy cow! Look at the size of that boat!

homeboy / hommie: a friend, a person who lives in you neighborhood. (African American origin, but now popular among young people)

I’m going to a concert with some of my hommies tonight.

hooked: addicted; unable to stop doing something.

Doris is hooked on video games. She plays them all the time.

hoops: the game of basketball.

Darrel and Roger stayed after school to play some hoops.

hooters: a woman’s breasts. (This is also the name of an American restaurant that hires women with big breasts to work as waitresses)

She’s got a big pair of hooters!

horny: to feel sexually aroused.

Whenever she gets horny, she calls her old boyfriends on the phone and tries to arrange dates.

horse around: to goof around; to play when work should be done.

Hey, you kids! Stop horsing around and finish your homework.

hose: to cheat.

Jeremy got hosed by a car dealer and paid way too much for his car.

hot: attractive; good-looking; sometimes used to describe a popular product.

The new iPhones are so hot, they’re flying off the shelves.

hottie: a beautiful woman

A woman who works in our office is such a hottie, she turns heads wherever she goes in the building.

hunker down: work hard; prepare for something difficult.

It’s time to hunker down and start studying for tomorrow’s math test.

hype: to promote; something that is promoted. (this can be a verb or a noun)

Don’t believe the hype. Use your own judgement in deciding if a popular song is good or not.

http://www.learnamericanenglishonline.com/American_Slang/American_Slang_G.html

Idioms for Doing Business in the U.S.

across the board: in all areas of the business or the organization; an even effect.

The manager of our department announced that the company needs to make cuts across the board in order to save money.

bail out: to provide financial assistance in order to save a business from financial ruin.

The U.S. government bailed out GM by buying up shares of the company.

bottom line: the final result; money made or lost.

Before making any more investments in his company, he’ll need to take a close look at his bottom line.

bet on: to believe that a result will be good; to take a risk or a chance.

Melissa’s company is betting on consumer interest in green technologies in order to improve sales.

branch out: to make a company larger by adding more locations or more products.

They want to branch out into the southwestern part of the state.

break even: to show neither a profit nor a loss.

It’s a good thing we had a good year last year and saved our cash because this year we’re barely breaking even.

build up: to increase

We’ll need to build up our inventory before the busy holiday season.

buy drinks: to buy alcohol for other people, usually at a bar or a restaurant.

You should have gone out with us last night. The boss was buying everyone drinks to celebrate a good quarter.

buy on credit: to purchase something with borrowed money; to use a loan or a credit card to buy something.

We buy everything on credit and then pay it off at the end of the month.

buy out: to buy an entire company and take control of it; to pay an employee to leave a company, usually someone who is older and near retirement.

Do you think there will be a buyout? We might lose our jobs if that happens.

CEO: Chief Executive Officer = the head of the company.

The company’s stock fell sharply after it was announced that the CEO was leaving the company.

change course: to do something that is completely different; to change direction.

We’re changing course with the introduction of some new products next year.

do business with: work another person or company; to exchange goods and services for money.

It’s been a pleasure doing business with you.

double check: check twice; to look at information more than once.

Let me double check those numbers and I’ll get back to you.

figure out: to think of an answer oneself; to fix a problem.

After studying the problem over several weeks, Emril finally figured out why his customers weren’t coming into the store.

gangbusters: great; very successful.

At first we weren’t doing very well with our sales, but now we’re going gangbusters.

get back to: call back; return with information.

I’m sorry, I don’t have the name of the person who hosted the conference. Let me get back to you with that.

go public: to make ownership of a company available to the general public through the sale of shares (stock) in the company.

If I had purchased Apple when they went public, I’d be a very rich man right now.

hard sell: to work very hard at selling something; to push one’s products on a customer. (this is not a good thing to do!)

Kevin grew tired of the salesman’s hard-sell approach, so he quickly left the store.

in the black: the period during which a company shows a profit.

Many retailers aren’t in the black until around Thanksgiving.

in the red: the period during which a company shows a loss.

It looks like we’re going to stay in the red for the rest of the year.

keep at it: keep working; don’t give up.

Owning and operating a popular restaurant isn’t easy, but if you keep at it, you will succeed.

make out: to do well; to be successful.

Joe must have made out pretty well this week because he’s buying everyone drinks.

make a profit: to make money; subtract expenses from gross sales to find out the net profit.

Felicia’s store is going to make a very large profit on the sale of those computers.

make up: to consist of; to be a part of.

Our staff is made up dedicated professionals who take pride in their work.

(be) on the market: available to the general public for purchase.

The Chevy Volt won’t be on the market until later this year.

pay off: to pay all of something that was purchased on credit.

You should try to pay off your credit cards as soon as possible; otherwise, you’ll have to continue to pay a large amount of interest every month.

put out: produce; make; manufacture

They’re putting out the finest furniture that you can buy at these prices.

sell off: to sell one thing or to sell all the pieces of a company.

Uri decided to sell off his business and retire to Florida.

sell out: to sell all of a company’s products or tickets.

The children’s toys became popular so quickly that they sold out within a week. No one could find them anywhere.

ship out: to send products by mail.

The manufacturing plant in China will ship out the parts we need tomorrow.

take a loss: to lose money; expenses exceed sales; to sell something at a price that is higher than the cost of acquisition.

It’s okay to take a loss on that investment. We can write it off on our taxes.

take a nosedive: to go down; to suddenly decrease in value.

The stock we bought last year took a nosedive yesterday when its quarterly profits were announced.

take off: to do very well; to become successful.

After five years of struggling to succeed, our business is finally starting to take off.

take over: to become responsible; to take control of something; to become the new owner.

Ed Wilson is going to take over the position of CEO in August.

turnover: attrition; the constant change in employees hired and then lost by a company due to firing or quitting.

The rate of employee turnover is too high for this company. We don’t have enough experienced people at any one time.

tool: anything that helps you achieve a desired result: skills, software, incentives, rubrics, spreadsheets, databases, etc. (This is a very popular word used in business–so popular, in fact, that its overuse has turned it into a silly cliche)

Our company wants to use this software as a tool for reinventing itself.

tool box / tool kit: a collection of tools (described above)

We’re going to need all the tools in the tool kit in order to focus on this problem.

work on: to improve something; to create something new.

Danielle is working on a new sales presentation.

work out: to find a solution; to come to an agreement.

Do you think we can work out a deal? We really want to buy this car.

write off: to take a deduction on taxes; something that decreases the amount of money that is paid in taxes.

We can write off the cost of this lunch if we spend a little time talking about doing business together.

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