New York City Slang

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New York City Slang

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New York City: The City that Never Sleeps. From the top of the Empire State Building, to the man selling hotdogs on Broadway, New Yorkers are in a class by themselves when it comes to lingo. Being from the Tri-State area, I happen to use some of this New York City slang myself.

Often L's are replaced with W's. For example, someone might say, "Let's have a talk," but your ears may hear, "Let's have a tawk." Another subtlety occurs when S's are replaced with X's. When a New Yorker says, "You had better ask somebody," your may hear it as, "You had better axe somebody." Unless you watched a horror movie last night, what you heard probably didn't sound too inviting.

To keep you from heading for the hills the first chance you get, here are 10 slang terms and phrases that you will definitely hear whether you are shopping on 5th Avenue, or visiting friends in Long Island. This New York City lingo outline is sure to help you settle in, relax and really enjoy the amazing things that New York City has to offer.


10. "Loosie"


If you're looking for a single cigarette you can ask, not axe, someone for a "loosie." Though this term is now widespread, it has been a long time part of the New York City local lingo used by those folks who didn't have enough money for a pack of cigarettes. They simply went in the nearest corner store and asked for a "loosie," or a single cigarette that the manager may be willing to sell to them from anywhere around ten to fifty cents.


9. "Jack"


This term can be interpreted in a number of different ways using New York's local lingo. One way it's used: "That person just got jacked." In this case, it means somebody was just robbed. Another New York City usage is, "This guy got jacked up." This is slang for a specific person losing a fight. If you see someone with an ice pack, that's most likely who they are talking about. "Hey, can I use your jack?" is a final way you will hear someone use this bit of local lingo. In this case, a person is simply asking to use your phone. If you ask that question anywhere else in the United States folks are likely to hand you a large tool from the back of the car.


8. "Word Up" or "Word"


These slang terms mean that you agree with something someone else said. A good example is:
Joey: Grey's Papaya has the best hot dogs in town!
John: "Word!!"
Other ways of using it are "Word to mother!" This is typically used in place of, "I swear to God." The one I am very guilty: "Word is bond." If someone says this to you, they are guaranteeing the next thing that comes out of their mouth will happen. So, if you say, "Word is bond I'm going to the party tomorrow," you had better be there.


7. "Gypsy Cab"


New York is known for its taxis, but it may be hard to pick this variety out of the crowd. Coming in from the airport you may accidentally come upon one or even be approached by the driver. These are unlicensed taxi drivers who charge WAY too much for a cab ride. To avoid getting ripped off, remember this handy piece of local lingo while you're in New York City ... consult a native before you load your luggage and empty your wallet.


6. "Chips"


No, not Erik Estrada – In New York slang, "chips" refer to money. The obvious correlation would be Las Vegas, where chips are as good as money. Fortunately, nobody walks around with $500 in chips in their pocket in New York City. However, in slang, you might tell someone, "I'm stacking my chips to buy a car." It can also be used as a "you break it you buy it"-type reference. For example, if you let someone borrow your bike, you could say, "Chips on the bike." Sure, there may be a little paint coming off, but what you mean is that, if it breaks or gets stolen, the person who borrowed it has to pay for it. It's better known as a Brooklynism.


5. "The Boogie Down"


This is a specific reference, coined by rapper KRS-One, to the Bronx area. He used this name as motivation to create a sense of unison for DJ's and rappers hailing from that borough. From underground hip-hop to break dancing, this area is universally known as the "Boogie Down Bronx."


4. "Mad"


Every other sentence from a native New Yorker will probably have "mad" in it at least 3 to 4 times. Ok, maybe not that much - but it does mean "a lot of something." Instead of saying, "That person must have a lot of money," you would say, "He's got mad money." This likely sounds funny to those hearing it for the first time, but not to worry: New York City "chips" don't have an attitude problem.

These final three slang terms and phrases are very unique to the New York City local language and really get outsiders saying, "Wait...What...Huh?" and "Excuse me, did you just say what I think you said?"


3. "7:30"


Eastern Standard Time? Could be, but unfortunately time has nothing to do with this local lingo. This is the New York City slang way of saying "you're crazy." Rikers Island prison had a form called a 7:30 Form for inmates needing to be transferred to the Psychiatric Ward. The phrase eventually made its way into the local, everyday New York language. So, if someone tells you, "Stay away from that guy. He's 7:30,"...STAY AWAY!


2. "Bananas"


This is another local New York term meaning "crazy," but if you use this lingo it means you've seen or experienced something crazy. For example, "That accident was bananas," or "The nightclub is bananas right now." Both mean there is a lot going on. Let me re-phrase that: There's "mad" stuff going on!


1. "Son"


This is number one because 99% of the people from New York City use this word as slang unconsciously. Most have no clue they even use it in a sentence or even say it at all. A New Yorker may be the only person who will call you "son" even when he is YOUNGER THAN YOU. The next time you are in New York count how many times you hear the word "son" in conversation. You'll most likely run out of fingers - maybe even toes. Most people start conversations, "Son, let me tell you something," or "Son, look at this." This popular local lingo is normally used to get someone's attention, similar to "Yo!" or "Hey!"

So, using New York's proper local language: Stack your chips, son, because that gypsy cab ride is going to be mad expensive. If you see something bananas don't go all 7:30. Get on the jack and tell your friends about it. Word?
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