New York slang has been shaped by the city's melting pot of cultures, history, and geography.
New York City is known for its iconic skyline, diverse culture, and lively streets. But did you know that it's also home to a unique and distinct slang? New York slang has been shaped by the city's melting pot of cultures, history, and geography. In this article, we'll explore the origins and meanings of some of the most popular New York slang terms.
Since every person involved in the CDPAP program lives in New York, we're all quite familiar with the common slang used in the area. However, if you're curious to test your knowledge, we've put together a guide of 20 popular New York slang terms.
New York City is famous for its unique slang, which has been shaped by the city's rich history and diverse population.
Here are the top 20 most popular New York slang terms:
New York City is famous for its ubiquitous bodegas - small convenience stores that can be found on many street corners of the city. These local shops are often family-owned and provide a variety of products, from snacks and beverages to household items and toiletries, making them a one-stop-shop for their customers.
For instance, let's say you're walking around Manhattan and realize you need to buy a bottle of water and some gum. Instead of heading to a larger grocery store, you can simply stop by a bodega and find everything you need. The convenience and accessibility of these stores make them an essential part of New York City's culture.
"Deadass" is an urban slang term that originated from New York City and is often used to emphasize the truthfulness and seriousness of a statement. It's considered a colloquialism and is commonly used in casual conversations, particularly among young people.
For example, let's say you're having a conversation with your friend about a rumor that's been going around. You might say "Deadass, I heard it from the source herself," to assert that what you're saying is 100% true and not just hearsay.
In some contexts, "deadass" can also be used to express frustration or disbelief. For instance, if someone cancels plans at the last minute, you might say "Deadass?!" to express your annoyance or surprise.
A "cabbie" is a slang term that is commonly used to refer to a taxi driver. In many cities, including New York City, taxis are a prevalent mode of transportation for both locals and tourists.
For example, if you're in New York City and need to get somewhere quickly, you might hail a taxi and say to the driver "Hey cabbie, can you take me to Times Square?" The term "cabbie" is often used in a friendly or informal way, and can help establish a rapport between the passenger and the driver.
In addition to traditional taxis, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft have also become popular modes of transportation in recent years. However, the term "cabbie" is generally not used to refer to drivers who work for these services, as they are not driving traditional taxis.
"Schmear" is a Yiddish term that has been adopted into American English to describe a generous amount of cream cheese spread on a bagel. It's a popular way to enjoy a bagel, particularly in cities with large Jewish populations, such as New York City.
For instance, if you're at a bagel shop in New York City and you want to order a bagel with cream cheese, you might say "I'll take a sesame bagel with a schmear of cream cheese." The word "schmear" implies that you want a substantial amount of cream cheese on your bagel, as opposed to just a light coating.
While "schmear" is most commonly associated with cream cheese, it can also be used to describe other spreads or coatings on food. For example, you might say "I'll have the lox platter with a schmear of horseradish sauce" to indicate that you want a generous amount of horseradish on your salmon.
"Yerrr" is a slang term that has become increasingly popular among young people in the United States. It's an informal greeting that is used among friends, and is similar in meaning to phrases like "what's up?" or "hello".
For example, if you're hanging out with your friends and one of them walks in the room, you might say "Yerrr!" to acknowledge their presence and greet them in a friendly way. The term "yerrr" is often pronounced with a drawn-out "r" sound at the end, which gives it a playful and distinctive tone.
While "yerrr" is most commonly used as a greeting, it can also be used as an exclamation of excitement or approval. For instance, if someone tells you some exciting news, you might respond by saying "Yerrr, that's awesome!"
"Fuhgeddaboudit" is a slang term that is commonly used in New York City and other parts of the United States. It's a phrase that is used to dismiss something as unlikely or impossible, or to indicate that a particular topic or idea is not worth further discussion.
For example, imagine that you and your friend are discussing your plans for the weekend, and your friend suggests going skydiving. You might respond by saying "Fuhgeddaboudit! I'm not jumping out of a plane!"
In addition to being used to dismiss ideas or suggestions, "fuhgeddaboudit" can also be used to express frustration or resignation. For instance, if you're trying to fix a broken appliance and it's not working, you might say "Fuhgeddaboudit, I'll just buy a new one."
"The Bronx Cheer" is a term that refers to a rude noise made by blowing through tightly pressed lips. It's also commonly known as a "raspberry", and is often used to express disapproval or contempt.
For example, imagine that you're at a comedy show and one of the jokes falls flat. You might hear someone in the audience make "The Bronx Cheer" as a way of expressing their disappointment with the performance.
In addition to being used to express disapproval, "The Bronx Cheer" can also be used to mock or ridicule someone. For instance, if someone makes a boastful or grandiose statement, you might respond by making "The Bronx Cheer" as a way of indicating that you don't take them seriously.
"Slice" is a term that refers to a single serving of pizza. It's a popular way to enjoy pizza in many parts of the United States, particularly in New York City, where there are countless pizzerias that offer slices for sale.
For example, imagine that you're walking down the street in Manhattan and you see a pizzeria with a sign that says "Hot Fresh Slices." You might decide to go inside and order a slice of cheese pizza, which is typically the most basic and popular type of slice.
In addition to cheese pizza, pizzerias often offer a wide range of different types of slices, including pepperoni, sausage, mushroom, and many others. Some pizzerias also offer specialty slices that are made with unique ingredients or toppings.
"The Big Apple" is a nickname that has long been associated with New York City. It was popularized by jazz musicians in the early 20th century, and has since become an iconic symbol of the city.
For example, imagine that you're visiting New York City for the first time and you're exploring Times Square. As you look around at the bright lights and bustling crowds, you might feel like you're truly experiencing "The Big Apple."
In addition to being a popular nickname for New York City, "The Big Apple" has also been used in many other contexts, including literature, music, and film. It's a term that evokes a sense of excitement, opportunity, and possibility, and is often associated with the city's vibrant culture and diverse communities.
"MTA Delayed" is a phrase that New Yorkers are all too familiar with. It refers to the frequent delays and disruptions that occur on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) subway system, which can cause commuters to be late for work, appointments, and other important events.
For example, imagine that you're running late for an important job interview because your subway train has been stuck in a tunnel for the past 20 minutes. As you emerge from the station, you might apologize to your interviewer and explain that you were "MTA Delayed."
"Stoop" is a term that refers to the steps leading up to the entrance of a building, particularly in urban areas like New York City. It's a word that has been used for generations, and is often associated with the idea of community and socializing.
For many residents of New York City, the stoop is more than just a set of steps - it's a gathering spot where they can connect with their neighbors and watch the world go by. It's not uncommon to see people sitting on their stoops on warm summer evenings, chatting with friends or simply enjoying the fresh air.
"Bag" is a term used to describe a paper or plastic shopping bag, commonly given out by bodegas and other convenience stores in New York City. These bags are often emblazoned with the store's logo and can be found in various sizes, depending on the items being purchased.
For example, let's say you're at a bodega in Brooklyn and you've just bought a few snacks and drinks. The cashier might ask if you want "a bag for that," meaning they will provide you with a paper or plastic bag to carry your items.
"Jawn" is a slang term that originated in Philadelphia but has become increasingly popular in New York City and other parts of the United States. It's a catch-all noun that can be used to refer to any object or thing, regardless of its size, shape, or purpose.
For example, if you're at a party and someone asks you where the cups are, you might say "Oh, they're over by that jawn on the table." The word "jawn" implies that there is some object or thing on the table that can be used as a reference point for finding the cups.
"Mug" is a slang term that is commonly used in New York City and other parts of the United States to describe the act of robbing or stealing from someone, particularly through pickpocketing.
For example, imagine that you're walking down a crowded street in Manhattan and someone bumps into you. A few minutes later, you realize that your wallet is missing from your pocket. In this case, you might say "I think I just got mugged!"
Musicians, dancers, and other performers can often be found entertaining commuters on subway platforms and trains throughout the city. These "subway performers" are a beloved part of New York City's culture and add to the vibrant energy of the city.
In addition to providing entertainment for commuters, subway performers also have the opportunity to showcase their talents to a diverse audience. Many successful musicians and artists got their start performing in the subways, including Grammy-winning jazz musician Esparanza Spalding and singer-songwriter Regina Spektor.
"Dollar slice" is a term used to describe a type of pizza that is sold at many pizzerias throughout New York City for just one dollar per slice. It's a popular option for those on a budget or looking for a quick and easy meal.
Despite the low price, dollar slices are often surprisingly tasty and satisfying. They're typically made with simple ingredients like tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and a thin crust, but can be customized with additional toppings like pepperoni or mushrooms.
"Seltzer" is a carbonated water beverage that has been popular in New York City for generations. It's a refreshing drink that can be found at many bodegas and delis throughout the city, often sold in glass bottles or aluminum cans.
One of the unique features of seltzer is its versatility - it can be enjoyed on its own as a thirst-quenching beverage, or used as a mixer in cocktails and other drinks. Many New Yorkers enjoy seltzer with a splash of fruit juice or syrup for added flavor.
"Spaldeen" is a term that refers to a type of rubber ball that was commonly used in street games like stickball and stoopball. The ball was originally produced by the Spalding company, but over time the name "Spaldeen" became synonymous with any small, bouncy rubber ball.
"Hoodie" is a term that refers to a sweatshirt with a hood attached at the back. It's a versatile piece of clothing that can be worn for warmth, comfort, or as a fashion statement.
Hoodies have been popular among young people for decades, particularly in urban areas like New York City. They're often associated with hip-hop and streetwear culture, and are frequently worn by musicians, athletes, and other celebrities.
"Sucker free" is a slang term that is commonly used in New York City and other parts of the United States. It's a phrase that is used to describe someone who is not easily fooled or taken advantage of, and who has street smarts and savvy.
For example, if someone tries to sell you a counterfeit handbag on the street, but you can tell that it's fake based on its poor quality and construction, you might say "I'm sucker free - I know the real thing when I see it!"
Knowing New York slang is more than just a way to fit in with the locals. It's also a way to gain a deeper understanding of the city's culture and history. By learning about the origins and meanings of popular New York slang terms, you can gain insight into the city's diverse communities and the unique experiences that have shaped its identity.
In addition, knowing New York slang can be helpful for navigating everyday situations in the city. Whether you're ordering food at a deli, hailing a taxi, or trying to understand directions from a local, being familiar with common slang terms can help you communicate more effectively and avoid misunderstandings.
Finally, learning New York slang can be a fun and rewarding experience in itself. It allows you to connect with others who share your interest in language and culture, and can open up new opportunities for socializing and exploring the city. So whether you're a lifelong New Yorker or just visiting for the first time, taking the time to learn some popular New York slang terms is well worth it.
New York slang is constantly evolving and changing, influenced by the city's diverse communities and cultures. If you're ever in the city, take some time to listen to the locals and learn some of the unique slang terms. You might just sound like a true New Yorker in no time!
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