Word Yo’: A Written Tour Of NYC Slang

A mandatory extension of visiting a new city or country is dealing with a foreign language or distinct dialect. There’s no getting around it. Upon arrival to a nonnative destination, one is met with distinct greetings, framed by unfamiliar words and distinct pronunciation. All at once, travelers may begin to feel a bit tongue-tied as they try to make out the meanings of words they’ve never heard, or words they have heard but are now being used colloquially.

In New York City, there’s a buffet of words that are often used informally in conversation, usually restricted to a particular context or group of people. In other words, slang. Hailing from the metropolitan area, I know a few things or two about the native informal tongue, though definitely not the whole lot. Below, a quick lesson for newcomers on the colorful language of the City of New York. (PS: The following words are obviously used in some other cities around the world.)

1. used to express agreement, acknowledgement, and approval in several ways; to be true
Speaker: “I love this song!”
Response: “Word, me too.”

2. to mean “seriously?”
Speaker: “I met President Obama!”
Response: “Word?!”

1. used to mean “very”
Speaker: “It’s mad cold out today.”

1. a piece of plain cheese pizza
Speaker: “Give me a slice to go!”

Alphabet City
1. Lower East Manhattan, where avenues are called “A” and “B” instead of numbers
Speaker: “I’m heading down to Alphabet City tonight.”

noun; verb; adjective; interjection
1. refers to a sense of confidence and style
Speaker: “Check out my swag.”

On Point
1. to be on top of things; in control; to meet standards
Speaker: “That chef’s cooking was on point last night.”

1. derived from “overdoing”
Speaker: “Don’t OD on the hot sauce! I won’t be able to eat it!”

1. to mean cool or nice; to feel good under the effects of alcohol
Speaker: “Those four drinks had me feeling wavy.”

The City
1. Manhattan itself
Speaker: “Let’s take the F train out of Brooklyn and head into the city tonight.”

1. a cigarette
Speaker: “Do you have a boge I can buy off you?”