Common Slang Terms From NY


Every person involved in the CDPAP program lives in NY. Therefore, we are all quite familiar with the common slang. But in case you wanted to test your knowledge, we put this guide of 40 popular NY slang terms.

New York Brooklyn bridge

Introduction to New York Culture and Vernacular


New York City is the most densely populated urban area in the U.S. with approximately 8.5 million inhabitants and a large number of these people, almost a third, are immigrants from other countries.

As a result, New York City has developed its own unique language that’s been heavily influenced by the city’s linguistic and cultural diversity combined with hip hop culture.

New York City slang is heavily influenced by hip hop culture, an art movement that started in the Bronx and that combines African, Latin, and Caribbean cultural influences.

Though most people are only familiar with hip hop music, its roots actually run much deeper than that, spawning its own artistic flavor, language, and lifestyle.

If you live in NYC, it might be hard for you to really understand and sync up with the nuances of New York nightlife without understanding the customs, style, and the dialect that locals use to communicate. People all over the world admire and copy New York slang.

So below, we’ve provided a list of some of the most popular words that are in use every day on the street, in nightclubs, and mostly everywhere in the city. This is just enough to get you started on NYC slang..

40 Slang Words From New York

Grill (v.)

To stare at someone in a judgmental or angry way; to look at another person for a long period of time. (E.g., “Her dad was grilling me the whole time I was there.”)

Kid/Son (n.)

A caring term used to refer to a close friend. (E.g., “Hey kid, wanna hang out?”, “Son, you gotta chill out.)

Real Talk (phr.)

A phrase used to get the attention of a listener and to alert them to the idea that the next topic matter is serious. (E.g., “Real talk, I’m not cool with what happened between us last week.”)

Guap/ Cake/ Cheese (n.)

Three different words all used to refer to money; simply put, each of these words can be used as a direct substitute for the word “money” (E.g., “Wow, that job sure earns you a lot of cake, huh?”, “Hey kid, can I borrow some guap for tonight?”, “That’s some mad cheese, bro.”)

Mad (adj.)

Very; a word that emphasizes the word that follows it; the word “mad” may be used anywhere that the word “very” could be used. (E.g., “That’s mad cool, bro!”)

Frontin’ (ger.)

Yo pretend that one is better than he/she actually is, most often in an effort to impress or shock other people. (E.g., “Don’t you be frontin’, we all know you don’t have the cake to pay for it.”)

Dead-ass (adj.)

To be totally serious about something. (E.g., “I’m dead-ass bro, I didn’t know she was gonna do that.”)

Whip (n.)

An expensive, nice, or otherwise attractive car or vehicle, (E.g.  “Dang, that whip is amazing, bro!”)

Tight (adj.)

Used to describe an object or situation that is well put together, really cool, or in style, (2) angry, upset, or disgruntled about something. (E.g. (1) “Whoa, that outfit is tight, girl!”. (2) “He’s still mad tight about what you said to him yesterday.”)

 Gully (adj.)

Raw, real; similar to saying something is “street (style)” or “gangsta (style)”, meaning that a thing or situation is rough, (E.g., “That place was gully, bro.”)

Ratchet (adj.)

Word used to describe a woman who has a poor moral code and poor standards in regard to men, lifestyle, etc. originally derived from a mispronunciation of the word “wretched”. (E.g., “That ghetto girl thinks she’s cool, but really she’s just ratchet.”)

New York city slang and culture

Brick (adj.)

Really cold; freezing. (E.g., “The weather is brick tonight, you’d be crazy to go out there!”)

The City (n.)

Manhattan; within the greater area of New York City, Manhattan is referred to as “The City”. (E.g., “Hey, I heard there was this great new club in The City. Wanna go?”)

Schmear (n.)

A shorter, more concise way to say “a lot of cream cheese”. (E.g., “I always get my morning bagel with schmear, don’t you?”)

Pie (n.) 

Pizza; regular pastry pie. (E.g., “I’m so hungry I could eat a whole pie right now, man.”)

Schvitz (v./n.)

Sweat; sweating – this is a Jewish word that nearly all New Yorkers use. (E.g., “Man, I was mad schvitzing on the walk over here, it’s so hot out there!”)

Stoop (n.)

The steps located right in front of an apartment building in the city. (E.g. “Sometimes I like to just sit outside on the stoop and watch the world go by.”)

Schtupp (v.)

To have sex with someone; to fornicate. (E.g., “Man, that’s the kind of girl I’d want to schtupp.”)

Dumb (adj.)

Really; very; used for emphasis. (E.g., “The food was dumb good, man, I’d totally go back.”)

Gotham (n.)

Refers to New York City as a whole (this is a kind of joke about NYC, since Gotham is a corrupt city in the Batman comic franchise). (E.g., “Well, here in Gotham crime isn’t exactly uncommon.”)

Thirsty (adj.)

To be or look desperate and/or desirous of something or someone. (E.g., “Quit being so thirsty, you’ve got to control yourself, bro.”)

Thirstbucket (n.)

A term given to a person who is acting very desperately. (E.g., “Man, you’re never gonna get the girl if you keep being such a thirstbucket!)

 Spaz (v.) 

To become physically or verbally aggressive; to be angry with someone and act on the anger. (E.g., “I came home late last night and she totally spazzed out on me, man.”)

Take it there (phr.)

“there” is a fight; this phrase is shorthand for getting into a fight with someone, or threatening to fight with another person. (E.g., “I’m gonna take it there if you keep buggin’ on me, bro!”)

Bodega (n.) 

A small store, shop, or market where locals can go to buy all the essentials, including food items (produce, snacks, etc.), shampoo and other self-care products, a coffee or energy drink in the morning, and more similar items. (E.g., “We’re out of bread, I’m gonna have to go to the bodega in the morning to restock.”)

Yooz (n.)

The slang plural of “you”; used either as a standalone term or preceding the word “guys” in a sentence (as in “you guys”). (E.g. “Where are yooz going tonight?”)

New York graffiti and NY culture

Cop (v.)

Buy; purchase – “cop” may be used as a synonym for these words. (E.g., “Hey man, I’m gonna go cop some pie from the place on the corner, you want anything?”)

Buggin’ (v.)

To act crazy; to freak out; to cause problems and arguments where there weren’t any before. (E.g., “Why you buggin’, bro? I only asked to borrow a few bucks.”)

Ice (n.)

Jewelry – specifically expensive jewelry made with diamonds, gold, or other costly materials. (E.g., “Look at this new ice my boo got for me!”)

Whack (adj.) 

Used to describe something that is crazy, appalling, or otherwise unconventional; “whack” usually describes something bad, though it can also be used in a positive sense in certain cases. (E.g., “Bro, that song is whack, turn it off, would ya?”)

Wylin’/Wildin’ (v.)

To be out of control or crazy. (E.g., “He was wildin’ last night when he told you to get out, that was whack, bro”)

Crusty (adj.)

Gross; unclean; a term that describes a person or thing that is dirty. (E.g., “This crusty guy at the bar kept asking for my number, so I had to give him a fake one instead.”)

Snuff (v.)

To hit; to punch. (E.g., “If he keeps wylin’ on me I’m gonna have to snuff him in the face.”)

B (n.)

Used as a term of endearment when speaking to a friend or close acquaintance. (E.g., “How’s it goin’, B?”)

Schlep (v.)

To go from one place to another in a way that implies exhaustion and disenchantment with the journey; refers to the frustration involved with a long trip across the city or even a short trip that a person really doesn’t want to take. (E.g., “Ugh, I forgot my phone in my car, now I’m gonna have to schlep all the way back to the parking lot to get it.”)

Sus (adj.) 

Shortened version of the words “suspicious” and “suspect”; used to indicate that a person or thing is not to be trusted. (E.g., “My new neighbor is sus, bro, I don’t trust him one bit.”)

Lit (adj.)

Really cool; amazing; incredible. (E.g., “This party is so lit, man!”)

Boss/Sis (n.)

The male and female versions, respectively; simple terms used to refer to a man (boss) or woman (sis) regardless of position in society or any other factors. (E.g., “Hey boss, you ready to go yet or what?” “You’ve got a lot of stuff to carry there, sis.”)

Regular coffee (phr.) 

A coffee made with a large helping of cream and sugar, as opposed to a black coffee. (E.g., “And this time make sure you get me a regular coffee, not any of that black coffee again, alright?”)

Beef (n.)

To have a grudge against someone; to be in a fight with someone. (E.g., “What, are you guys having some beef again?”)


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