San Diego Slang

San Diego Slang

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San Diego, Calif. -- home of sun, sand, surf.... and slang! Of course, San Diego slang includes the expected surfer lingo ("Dude, did you ride those swells this weekend?"), but there also exists an entire local language that a San Diego tourist would be wise to learn before venturing into the city. The easiest way to explore San Diego lingo is to deconstruct a typical sentence. For our purposes, let's use the statement, "Hey dude, let's meet at State then head down the 8 to OB to chill."


This word has become a mainstay of American slang, and it's a San Diego staple. Used to casually refer to a friend, "dude" is heard on a regular basis. Don't worry about calling a girl "dude." In San Diego, the lingo applies to males and females alike.


This is the local abbreviation for San Diego State University. Mention State to locals, and there's no question about the reference. Even students at other local schools know that this lingo always refers to SDSU. If you stop to ask someone for directions and they tell you to go east past State, don't look for a State Street. Just keep an eye out for the giant university just off the 8 Freeway.

3. "OB"

San Diegans spend a great deal of time at the beach, so local lingo necessarily reflects this preoccupation with hanging out oceanside. In San Diego, "OB" signifies Ocean Beach 619-224-4906, a local hot spot. Located next to Mission Beach and Pacific Beach (PB), locals and visitors alike can head here for an unpretentious experience. Locally owned shops inhabit this unique, eclectic community. No one knows why Mission Beach doesn't enjoy its own abbreviated slang, but it doesn't. Ocean Beach and Pacific Beach, however, are always referred to as "OB" and "PB."


Since this part of California only has three of the four seasons (there's no winter here), I'm baffled as to how this San Diego slang came into existence. Certainly, we'd never say, "With the recent chill, I am expecting the first snow to fall soon." Instead, San Diegans chill with friends and family, hanging out, relaxing and enjoying each other's company. In keeping with the city's laid-back ambience, tourists are invited to chill and enjoy all that this exciting city has to offer.

5."The 8 Freeway"

Commonly referred to as simply "the 8," this is Interstate 8, a freeway that runs east to west and connects all of San Diego. From here, you can get just about anywhere you'd like to go in the city, including Alpine, El Cajon, La Mesa, San Diego State, Mission Valley and Fashion Valley. Wherever you're headed, the 8 will get you there.

My last bit of advice on San Diego slang is a warning on what not to say during your stay in this beautiful city. While it has become popular with the younger crowd, the word "hella" is an abomination to most San Diegans. This is a non-word, really, originating in Northern California. A true San Diegan would not use this slang, which infiltrated the city via native Northern Californians attending college here. Its meaning is something close to "super," but you'll never hear a San Diego native say this.

This brief explanation of some of San Diego's most commonly used words will help any tourist blend in with the locals and find their way around town. Still feel unprepared to tackle this city's laid-back local lingo? No worries. San Diegans are chill, so don't be afraid to ask for help.

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