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UK vs. US: 10 slang words you must use in 2016

Let’s be real: If you’re learning English, you’re not going to use words like facetious and discombobulated every day. With your new English-speaking friends, you’ll be using cool and hip words like squad and chill.

Since most of the popular slang originates in the U.S., Martinique’s here to give you the lowdown of all the current lingo you need to know, and Tom’s firing right back with his interpretation of what those words mean to someone from the United Kingdom. So, wherever you’re speaking English at the moment – we’ve got you covered!

1. Squad

Martinique: This is the group that you hang out with or wish to. Think Taylor Swift and all of her model friends.

“I can’t go to the party without my squad.”

Tom: To me, this describes a football team. I don’t think squad has really taken off in the U.K. yet, or maybe it has, and I’m just not cool anymore. *single tear sadness emoji*

2. Bae

M: This stands for Before. Anyone. Else. and refers to your significant other – be it boyfriend, girlfriend, or favorite late-night snack.

“If bae never gets jealous, then bae is not bae.”

T: I actually use this flippantly, and my girlfriend doesn’t like it. I also prefer to spell it bæ which is more graphemically correct.

3. On fleek

M: When something is really great or basically perfection. It could be your eyebrows, an outfit, or a haircut.

“OMG, your eyebrows are on fleek!”

T: This is best when used jokingly, especially to describe something about yourself, like, “I don’t want to alarm anyone, but my hair is totally on fleek this morning.” I may or may not have said this about my own hair in the past. Let’s move on…

4. Queen

M: Beyoncé. No exceptions.

“Beyoncé is Queen.”

T: Nobody is queen except the actual Queen in England. Not even Beyoncé. Although, I’d like to see Queen Elizabeth II dance to Single Ladies.

5. Throwing shade

M: This has nothing to do with saving someone from a sunburn: If you “throw shade” at someone, you are giving them an evil stare, as in disapproving or criticizing them.

“That girl just threw shade at me for talking to her boyfriend.”

T: I actually didn’t know about this one, but I might use it from now on. I expect to get confused and slightly insulted stares from people.

6. Roast

M: This isn’t describing your Christmas dinner, but rather, when you’re insulting someone, and they can “feel the burn.”

Justin Bieber used to get roasted all the time before his last album.”

T: All I can think of when I see this word is a delicious, traditional, meat-based ‘roast dinner’ that’s eaten by most families in the U.K. every Sunday afternoon. And now I’m hungry.

7. Dead

M: You’re still very much alive, but the thing you saw or heard made you feel as if you died.

*Sees something funny* “Dead!”

T: My friends and I use this a lot – usually accompanied by five crying-tears-of-joy emojis.

8. Life

M: Something that gives your world meaning.

“Oreos are life.”

T: The list of foods that give me life is pretty endless, so I’m not sure I want to start using this word because I don’t know where it would end.

9. Slay

M: Back in the 17th century, slaying was reserved for your war enemies. Now, it means to succeed in something amazing.

“Beyoncé doesn’t just live, she slays.”

T: Slaying used to explain how brave knights defeated terrifying dragons in medieval stories. Now, I use it to describe what I did with an entire pizza last night.

10. Chill

M: A few years ago, chill only described relaxed or easy-going, but the word has become super versatile: It’s now an adjective or noun for someone you think is really cool or down-to-earth and a verb if you want to hang out, take it easy, and watch a movie.

You have, like, zero chill.

T: I’ve recently been told I have no chill, and I wasn’t sure how to take it, but I now see that it wasn’t a good thing. So, to the person who said that: I’ll show you that I have chill. I’m full of chill.

Learn even more cool and hip English words in 2016Learn More

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