ip target image
You are currently browsing our site with content tailored to students in your country

Our cookies

We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience with personalized content, relevant ads and enhanced functionalities. By allowing all you agree to the use of cookies as per the cookie policy and remember you can manage your preferences anytime.
The basics
THE USA: Once you arrive

American slang words you’ll probably hear on campus

Americans use slang regularly in their everyday lives, especially students! This list of American slang words and their meanings may come in handy as you settle into your new home


Studying abroad in the United States provides many opportunities for students from Sri Lanka. You will have the opportunity to immerse yourself into a new culture and environment. However, studying abroad can also mean culture shock. You’ll have to adjust to a new way of life during your time in the USA, and even though you may speak English pretty well, there will be a lot of language that you might not understand. Here are eight American slang words or phrases that you’ll likely hear on campus while studying abroad in the United States.


1. “Pull an all-nighter”

It’s not uncommon to hear students talk about their plans to “pull an all-nighter.” This is a phrase that refers to staying up late the night before an exam (sometimes without going to sleep!) in order to do last minute revision. A student may also “pull an all-nighter” in order to write a paper that’s due the next day. Students typically pull all-nighters when they have something that needs to be done before the next school day (usually because they leave it to the last minute!)


2. “Ace”

Students use the term, “ace” to describe receiving an excellent grade on an exam or an assignment. For example, “John aced his physics test,” means that John got an excellent grade on his exam. You could also say “I’m going to ace that test tomorrow,” to imply that you feel confident about your ability to do well. You may notice that students who study more and get better grades use this American slang word more often than students who don’t study often or get good grades. Here's hoping you "ace" your studies in the United States!


 3. “Cram for an exam”

The word “cram” means to study a lot of information in a short period of time. If you ask one of your new friends if they want to chill, they may say, “Sorry dude, I can’t tonight, I have to cram for an important test tomorrow." What they mean is, they have a lot of material to study in order to prepare for an exam. In the United States, cramming is a popular method of study, but in most cases, it’s not the most effective method. Cramming and pulling an all-nighter go hand in hand.


4. “Totally bombed”

In American slang, students will typically use the word bomb to describe failing, or doing poorly on an exam or an assignment. Dude, I totally bombed my Chemistry test,” for example, where “bombed” means, failed, or did poorly. Your friend may have bombed his exam because he was tired from pulling an all-nighter, and trying to cram, instead of studying a little bit every day like he should. If you work hard and pace yourself, you shouldn't find youself "bombing" any exams.


5. “Screwed”

This is a term that you might hear in many different scenarios, but typically, it is used when a person believes that things will not work out in their favour. For example, someone might say, “Dude I bombed that test and now I’m screwed. I’m probably going to have to drop the class.” In this situation, the term “screwed” means, “out of luck”, or “in an unfortunate situation.” This person feels that it is unfortunate that he failed the test and as a result may have to drop the class to avoid a failing grade.


6. “Dude”

Dude is a term that students use when addressing a familiar friend or an acquaintance, or even when describing a random person. They may say, “Hey dude, how’s it going?” In which case they mean, “Hello, how are you?” They also may use it when they are addressing no one in particular. For example, one might say, “Dude, my classes are really hard this semester.” In this case, they may not necessarily be addressing you or anyone else, but they are still using the term “dude.” They may even use the word to talk about someone that you do not know. For example, “There’s this dude in my chemistry class who aced the first exam.” Dude refers to the person who aced the exam and generally refers to someone male.


7. “Hang out/chill"

You may hear students asking if you want to “hang out" or to "chill." They don’t mean to ask you if you want to get cold or hang upside down! They're asking you to spend time with them, usually after class, in the evenings, or on weekends. “Do you want to chill at my place later?” or “we should chill out sometime.” If you’re looking to make new friends and you do want to “chill” or “hang out” with that person, then you should definitely say yes! Getting to know your peers outside of class is a great way to feel at home in your new study destination.

Note: “chill” or “chill out” can also be used as a way to tell someone to calm down. So you may hear a student say, “Dude, chill out.” What they mean is, you (or whoever they are addressing) should calm down or relax.


8. “Wrap it up”

If you are in a study group or in a class and someone says “let’s wrap it up,” or it’s time to “wrap up,” what they mean is finish or bring to a close. So if your fellow students want to “wrap up,” a study session, it means they want to end it.


So, in an effort to “wrap up” this article, I remind you that you will most definitely hear many American slang words that you don’t understand, but the words listed here are good to know. Remember, studying regularly is “cool” and “cramming” during “all-nighters” might not be the best way to “ace” your exams. In fact, you may end up “bombing” the test, in which case you would be totally “screwed”.


Studying abroad is about your education, but it’s also about the experience, so definitely make time to “hang out” and “chill” with all of your new friends.


Start your study abroad adventure in the USA today!

Study in the USA


'Study in the USA' eBook

Enjoy what you’ve read? We’ve condensed the above popular topics about studying in the USA into one handy digital book.

Get your eBook