I’ve been a native New Yorker for my entire life. So yeah, I have a solid 30+ years of knowledge about New York slang words that locals actually use.
That’s why, if you want to learn about common NYC slang for an upcoming trip (so you sound more like a local) or want to see how much of a TRUE New Yorker you really are then this post about common New York phrases and slang is for you!
Because I’m about to share all my secret insider tips about all of the New York slang words that locals actually use. This way, you can look, feel, and sound a lot more like an authentic New Yorker.
Who knows, people might even mistake you for a super savvy local if you really nail some of the terminology outlined below.
Because guess what? Learning and understanding New York slang words can be really tricky.
And that is especially true in a place that is the most densely populated urban area in the USA with 8.5 million residents – many of whom have immigrated here from other countries.
Accordingly, NYC has developed its own unique accent and terminology. An iconic pattern of phrases that reflect the city’s inherent diversity and association with hip-hop culture.
FUN Fact: Hip hop started in da boogie down Bronx and features influences from African, Caribbean, and Latin cultures.
So, to help you better understand and communicate with people during your 4 days in NYC, here is some common NYC slang that residents use on the reg.
That’s why, in this post on New York slang words, you’ll learn all about:
- What words do New Yorkers Say Weird?
- What is the Slang Name for New York?
- Is “Brick” a New York Slang Word?
- New York Slang Words You Need to Know Now!
- And so much more!
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What Words do New Yorkers Say Weird?
Well, since I’m a local New Yorker I personally don’t think we say anything weird. LOL. However, here are some words and New York phrases that we definitely pronounce a little differently than the rest of the country.
Also, full disclosure, not everyone in New York will say things exactly the same. Because the New York accent definitely varies a lot depending on where you are in the state, and even in the city.
- Coffee = Caw-fee
- Chocolate = chaw-clet
- Dog = Dawg
- Water = Waw-ter
- Call = Cawl
- Walk = Wawlk
- Talk – Tawlk
- Waiting “on line” = waiting in line
- Off = aw-ff
- Office = aw-ffice
- New Yorker = New Yawker
- Bronx = da Bronx
- Sure = shore
- Awful = awe-ful
- Want to = wanna
- Long Island = Lawn-guy-land
- Awesome = AWW-some
- Regardless = Ra-gardless
- All = Awl
- Often = awf-ten
- Remote = ra-mote
- Remove = Ra-move
- Return = Ra-turn
- Wrong = Raw-ong
- Corner = Cawn-nah
- Regular = reg-u-lah
- Lobster = Lobstah
- Fault = Fawlt
- Sausage = Saw-sage
- Sauna = Saw-na
- Thought – Thaw-ght
- Taught = Taw-tt
- Boston = Baw-ston
- Lost = lawst
- You know = ya no
- Heard = hurd
Pro Tip: If you’re visiting New York and want to try using some New York slang words, don’t overdo it and mimic what they do in Hollywood since many of those accents are totally overdone. But we, on the whole, like to emphasize “aw” in phrases and like to change “re” to “ra”. So, instead of remote, you’d say, “ra-mote”.
What is the Slang Name for New York?
As you probably already know, New York City (aka NYC) has a couple of different nicknames. So, some slang names you could use for New York are:
- The Big Apple
- The City that Never Sleeps
- The Capital of the World
- The Center of the Universe – especially with regards to Times Square
- The City – this is what most New Yorkers call NYC
- The City So Nice They Named it Twice – this refers to the fact that you’re in New York, New York
- The Empire City
- The Five Boroughs – refers to the five major boroughs that make up New York City proper including Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Staten Island, and Queens.
- Fun City
- The Greatest City in the World
- The Melting Pot – with regards to the incredible diversity of people who live here.
- America’s City
- New Amsterdam – the original name of the Dutch colony
- The Modern Gomorrah – this is old NYC slang that refers to the overwhelming amount of organized crime in NYC
Pro Tip: In all honesty, most New Yorkers simply refer to NYC as “the city” since well, what other city really matters? LOL/ So, if you want to sound like a TRUE local, just call NYC “the city” and you’ll fit right in.
Is Brick a New York Slang Word?
Not gonna lie, I love the fact that this is really and truly a popular question asked on Google about New York slang words. So, let me clear the air by unequivocally stating that “brick” really and truly is a part of NYC slang vocabulary.
On the whole, it’s a common NYC slang word that refers to something that is extremely cold. Generally speaking, it’s a term that is used to describe weather but you might also hear it used to describe other things too.
So, you’d probably hear someone say something along the lines of, “Ugh, the weather is mad brick tonight.”
New York Slang Words You Need to Know Now!
And now – drumroll please – it’s on to the epic main event. Because we’re about to swan dive into a ridiculous number of New York slang words and NYC slang phrases that are legit used by locals.
This way, you can – ya know – actually understand what people around you are saying. Who knows, you might even work up enough courage to use these New York phrases in your everyday life.
So much so that someone might (insert gasps of awe and shock here) actually mistake you for a local.
1. Grill (v) – To stare at someone for a prolonged period of time in a stern way or to ask someone questions in an accusatory way.
Ex: “Yo, her father would not stop grilling me when I showed up for our date.”
2. Whack (adj.) – NYC slang for something that is appalling or just really bad.
Ex: “Dude, that show last night was SO whack.”
3. Lit (adj.) – One of many New York slang words for something that is amazing, turned up, poppin’, or just super cool.
Ex: “Did you go to that party last night because that sh*t was lit.”
4. Kid/Son (n.) – A word used to describe a close friend. Basically, an east coast version of the word homie.
Ex: “Yo, what up son? I missed you bro.”
5. Beef (n) – To hold a grudge against someone or to start one with another person.
Ex: “How long are you gonna have beef with everyone?”
6. Real Talk (common phrase) – Used to grab the attention of whoever you’re talking to and to let them know what you’re about to say is serious and that you are speaking candidly. Also used to emphasize that something REALLY did happen.
Ex: “Real talk? That is a very bad idea and will totally backfire.”
7. Bridge and Tunnel (adj.) – Okay, this term has changed over time so hear me out because this is one of those New York slang words that needs a little explanation.
So, this term originally developed as a form derogatory New York slang – with reference to distinct class differences – for a less affluent person who lived in the outer boroughs of NYC and who had to use either a bridge or tunnel (hence the phrase) to get into Manhattan.
As time has moved on, the term has now evolved to become a derogatory slang word for someone who is very culturally ignorant and who has very ethnocentric ideas about the world as a whole. So yeah, maybe someone who idealizes reality TV stars or who only knows music from the Top 40 on the radio.
Ex: “Ugh, Williamsburg is now overrun by Bridge and Tunnel type of people on the weekend.”
8. Basic (adj.) – Much like “bridge and tunnel” above, this word is used to describe someone who is only really interested in things that are very mainstream and that are very stereotypical. It’s often used in the phrase “basic b*tch”.
Ex: “God, she is so basic. All she wants to do is drink pumpkin spice lattes, wear Ugg Boots, and take selfies.”
9. Boujie (adj.) – Derived from the French word “bourgeoisie”, this phrase is used to describe someone (or something) who is doing something to make themselves appear more affluent.
Ex: “I feel boujie AF when I order mac and cheese with Emmenthaler swiss cheese in it..”
10. Bodega (n.) – A small local convenience store or grocery store, that is not a chain like 7-11, where you can get daily essentials like milk, eggs, liquor, etc.
Ex: “I’m gonna head to the bodega around the corner and pick us up a couple of sodas.”
11. Yooz (n.) – A plural form of the word “you” that is often used along with the word “guys”. You’ll hear it a lot in movies with Italian gangsters from NYC that are always saying, “Yooz guys.”
Ex: “Yooz going to the party tomorrow night?”
12. Regular Coffee (phrase) – If you ask for a “regular coffee” in NYC it means that you want one with milk and sugar.
Ex: “I don’t want a black coffee. Get me a regular coffee instead.”
13. J.A.P (n) – Short for “Jewish American Princess” this is a derogatory term that is used to describe someone – typically a woman – who is rich, snotty, and entitled. It’s typically used to describe women from affluent communities in Long Island and Westchester.
Ex: “She basically a wannabe J.A.P. since that velour Juicy tracksuit or hers is a total fake.”
14. Waiting on line (phrase) – A common set of New York slang words that mean you are standing in line or waiting on a queue. I personally use this phrase all the time and never thought it was weird until someone told me they thought I was talking about the internet. LOL.
Ex; “Ugh, I’ve been waiting on line for over an hour.”
15. Cop (v.) – to buy, purchase, receive, or steal something.
Ex: “Yo, I’m about to cop a drink. You want one?”
16. Thirsty (adj.) – Someone who is acting desperate. It’s usually used to refer to dating and could also mean someone who is really horny.
Ex: “Why you acting so thirsty? Get off those dating apps and just chill.”
17. Thirstbucket (adj.) – Someone who is acting REALLY desperate. And they are usually desperate for love.
Ex: “You’ll never get laid if you keep acting like such a thirstbucket.”
18. Mad (adj.) – This word is basically used to replace very, extremely, or a lot and is used to emphasize something. It’s similar to the word “wicked” in Boston and “hella” in Northern Cali.
Ex: “Man, this pizza is mad good.”
19. Frontin’ (v.) – To put up a facade and pretend that you’re better than you really are. Usually, someone is trying to impress or shock someone else.
Ex: “Stop frontin’! We all know that Rolex of yours isn’t real.”
20. Guap/Cheese/Cake (n.) – All New York slang words for money.
Ex: “Don’t forget to count all that guap before you leave.”
21. Dead-ass (adj.) – To be extremely serious about something. It can also mean, “I swear to God” in certain situations.
Ex: “Deadass kid, she just keyed my car.”
22. Whip (n.) – A really nice car like a flashy sports car.
Ex: “Damn, that is one awesome whip right there.”
23. Tight (adj.) – Something that is really cool or that is really nicely put together. It can also be used to mean that you’re upset about something.
Ex: “That party was tight.” Or, “He’s still mad tight about what you said to him last week.”
24. Gully (adj.) – Something from the streets or the gutter or something that is really rough. It could also mean something that is raw and real.
Ex: “Yeah, that place was gully.”
25. Ratchet (adj.) – Usually refers to a promiscuous woman. Someone who doesn’t take care of themselves and has a filty appearance. Could also be used to describe a nasty place that is shabby and just looks really unfortunate. Derived from the word “wretched”.
Ex: “She thinks she’s so cool but she’s just straight up ratchet.
26. Brick (adj.) – As I said earlier, this NYC slang word is used to mean very cold and is usually used to refer to the weather. Although, there are several other uses of the word too.
Ex: “The weather is mad brick, you’re gonna need a jacket.”
27. The City (n.) – This is very common (I say this all the time) and everyone uses it to refer to NYC or Manhattan specifically in most cases since that’s where most people go when they, “head into the city”.
Ex: “I’m so excited to go into the city tonight.”
28. Schmear (n.) – NYC deli slang for a small amount of cream cheese. However, it could also be used to indicate a small amount of any other condiment on something or to mean a medical test for a woman in New York.
Ex: “I said a schmear of cream cheese, not the entire container.”
29. Pie (n.) – While this word is used to describe a dessert pastry in many parts of the country, a pie in New York generally refers to a whole pizza or entire pizza pie. We just like to shorten it from “pizza pie” to “pie”.
Ex: “Damn. I’m so hungry I could eat an entire pie.”
30. Slice (n.) – A single slice of regular (aka cheese) New York style pizza. You can find dollar slices all around the city and can hit up Gotham Pizza and Joe’s for great authentic pizza in the city.
Ex: “Can I have a slice to go?”
31. Hero (n.) – It’s a long deli sandwich that is made with either hot or cold fillings or meat and cheese and that is topped with the condiment of your choice. So, just think of it as a long sandwich that is known as a “sub” in the Midwest, a “hoagie” in Philly, and a “grinder” in Connecticut.
Ex: “Can I get an Italian hero to go?”
32. Schvitz (v./n.) – This is originally a Yiddish word that is used to mean sweating profusely. In some cases, you could also use it as a noun when talking about a place (like a sauna or steam room) that is gonna make you sweat.
Ex: “It’s so hot out here I’m schvitzing all over the place.” Or, “Come on, let’s go for a schvitz.”
33. Stoop (n.) – The steps right out in front of someone’s apartment.
Ex: “On warm summer nights I likei to sit out on the stoop.”
34. Schtup (v.) – Another Yiddish word on this list of New York slang words that means to have sex. Note, it’s only used to refer to two people having sex together and not one person having sex with another.
Ex: “They’re so loud! I think they’re schtupping!”
35. Dumb (adj.) – Like the word “mad”, this word can be used to really emphasize something and be used to replace very/really.
Ex: “That party was dumb good last night.”
36. Gotham (n.) – This is a nickname for New York City. It got this name because it used to be a really corrupt city, like the one described in the Batman comics. I personally don’t use this NYC slang but other people might.
Ex: “Yeah, crime is all too common here in Gotham.”
37. Spaz (n./v.) – A person who is really hyper or overactive. It can also mean that you’re getting really angry at someone if you’re, “spazzing out” at them.
Ex: “She totally spazzed out at me after I stayed out too late.” Or, “OMG, she cannot sit still. She is such a spaz.”
38. Take it There (phrase/n.) – It could mean a physical fight as a phrase or it could also refer to a game where you engage in witty banter to come up with offensive but funny one-liners.
Ex: “If you don’t stop right now I’m gonna take it there.”
39. Buggin (v.) – Freaking out, trippin’, acting crazy, or causing a problem.
Ex: “I forgot about the test today and now I’m buggin’ out.”
40. Ice (n./v.) – Expensive jewelry that is usually made of diamonds. It could also be used as a verb that means to murder or kill someone.
Ex: “She’s dripping in Ice.” Or, “He’s about to get iced if he doesn’t shut his mouth.”
41. Wylin Out’/Wildin’ (v.) – To go crazy or overreact about something and not really care about the aftermath.
Ex: “Man, he was wylin out last night.”
42. Crusty (adj.) – Anyone or anything that is ugly, cheap, raggedy, gross, or unclean. Usually refers to a dirty person.
Ex: “That crusty ass guy in the club is all over me.”
43. Snuff (v.) -To kill someone. I’ve also heard it used in reference to punching someone.
Ex: “I’m about to snuff his lights out.”
44. B (n.) – a term of endearment for a close friend or someone you care about.
Ex: “I love you B!”
45. Schelp (v.) – Another Yiddish word that refers to an arduous journey from one place to another that implies being in a state of exhaustion. Generally used when you’re frustrated about making a long trip through the city.
Ex: “Ugh, I have to schlep all the way from Manhattan to Coney Island.”
46. Sus (adj.) – To describe someone who is acting suspiciously. Short for someone who looks suspect. Basically a person who is not to be trusted.
Ex: “That guy is mad sus. I don’t trust him at all.”
47. Boss/Sis (n.) – Used to refer to either a man (boss) or woman (sis) in general.
Ex: “Yo boss, you ready to go out?” Or, “Sis, what’s taking you so long?”
48. Ace (adj.) – Used to describe something or someone that is really cool.
Ex: “Yo, that move was ace.”
49. Bacon Egg and Cheese (n.) – An iconic NYC breakfast sandwich that consists of, you guessed it, bacon, egg, and cheese. Typically it is condensed into one word or abbreviated as “BEC”.
Ex: “I always start my mornings. with a bacon-egg-and-cheese.”
50. Dime Piece (adj.) – Used to describe a really attractive woman.
Ex: “She’s a total dime piece.”
51. Forget About It (phrase) – Usually pronounced as one word (for-ged-a-bout-it) and means that you don’t need to worry about it. Can also be used to mean agreement or disbelief that something is THIS good.
Ex: “No way your pizza is better than mine – forget about it.”
52. Good Looks (phrase) – This is how you thank someone after they do you a favor.
Ex: You’d say, “good looks” after someone holds the door open for you.
53. Grimey (adj.) – Someone who is acting shady or someone you can’t trust.
Ex: “Don’t trust her, she’s mad grimey.”
54. Gucci (adj.) – Used when someone wants to say that they’re doing really good.
Ex: “No worries, I’m Gucci.”
55. Holla (v.) – To talk to someone.
Ex: “Holla at me later”.
56. Hooptie (n.) – A really old, crappy car.
Ex: “I hate driiving around in this hooptie. It’s always breaking down.”
57. Hollywood (adj.) – Describes someone who is too busy or too good to hang out with you. They’re acting “new” and better than people that they grew up in the same neighborhood with.
Ex: “She’s actin’ mad Hollywood and won’t hang out with us anymore.”
58. Jacking (v.) – One of the many New York slang words used when claiming something is true that really isn’t. Can also be used to mean to steal something or to rough someone up (aka jack someone up).
Ex: “He really jacked me up.” Or, “Stop jacking. You know I didn’t hook up with her.”
59. Jones (v.) – An old NYC slang word that means your craving something really bad.
Ex: “I’m jonesing for a cigarette right now.”
60. Kicks (n.) – Shoes.
Ex: “How do you like my kicks?”
61. SoHo (n.) – Refers to a neighborhood in NYC that is south of Houston Street.
Ex: “Yeah, I just moved to SoHo.”
62. Timbs (n.) – An NYC slang word used to describe a pair of Timberland shoes which are a type of work boot that is often worn by men. Some would say you’re not a real local until you own a pair of Timbs.
Ex: “Better get my Timbs since it’s hella brick outside.”
63. What’s Good? (phrase) – One of many New York slang words that help you ask how someone is doing. Can be used instead of, “How are you doing?”
Ex: “What’s good son?”
Additional NYC Travel Resources You’ll Love!
- Backpacking NYC on a Budget
- 21 Fun Brunch Spots in NYC that You’ll Love
- Best Places to Shop in NYC on a Budget
- 17 Fun Things to do in NYC on Your Birthday
- 25 Places You Must Eat in NYC
- 15 Amazing Things to do on the Upper West Side NYC
Well, that just about concludes this mad awesome guide to all of the most common New York slang words, NYC slang phrases, and slang New York phrases that locals use.
Tell me, did your favorite NYC slang expression make the list? If not then let me know in the comments below and I’ll be sure to add it ASAP.
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