Can You Translate These Common Slang Words?


By: Allison Lips

6 Min Quiz

Image: RyanJLane/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

We all have our favorite slang words. Some words have become so ingrained in our language that we don't even realize the words are slang!

Something may be cool because we like it. Hot because it's flying off the shelves. We may be "Jonesing" for something because we want to keep up with the Joneses. College students cram for exams in the hopes that they don't bomb.

Everyone has their favorite words. While slang may be incomprehensible to those who are unfamiliar with the terms, we use it to get closer to people. When we ask our friends "What's up?" we don't expect them to respond with something in the sky. If they seem tense, we may wonder why they can't chill or lighten up. If they refuse to talk, you may tell them to spill the beans. If you push too far, you may get an earful.

Are we getting you hyped for this quiz? Or is this intro putting you to sleep? Don't bail! This isn't the slammer. You'll have a blast!

You don't have to take a rain check or buy the farm to take this quiz. You may find that this quiz is a piece of cake! Test your knowledge of common slang words now!

What is a college student doing when they "cram?"

The word was created before 1000 A.D. It comes from the Middle English "crammen" and the Old English "crammian." They mean "to stuff."


When you "pig out," how much did you eat?

"Pig out" became a slang expression in the early 1970s. The phrase is related to "making a pig of yourself," which means you ate a lot.


What does it mean to be "Jonesing" for something?

In the early-1960s, the "to Jones" took on the meaning of an addiction. This sense is said to come from Jones Allen, which was a Manhattan area popular with drug addicts.


What is someone doing if they are playing "Monday morning quarterback?"

The phrase comes from football. Since American football games are often played on Sunday, someone would be able to criticize the game and talk about what they would have done differently on the following Monday morning.


If you are asked for your "John Hancock," what should you give?

In the 1840s, John Hancock's name became synonymous with a signature. This signer of the Declaration of Independence is still well known for his huge signature that stands out among the other founding father's signatures.


What are you asking someone to do if you want them to "spill the beans?"

"Spilling the beans" may date back to the Ancient Greeks. They would place black or white beans in a jar to cast votes. If the jar was spilled, the election results would be known early.


What is someone doing when they "pass the buck?"

President Harry S. Truman was a fan of the phrase. He promised that the "buck stops here." He even had a sign made to put on his desk in the Oval Office.


What does it mean to "hang out?"

The phrase "hang out" dates back to 1811. However, the phrase "hang" took on the meaning of "spend time" as part of 1950s teenage slang.


What are you doing at a restaurant if you are "going Dutch?"

The Oxford English Dictionary traces the origin of "going Dutch" to the 17th century. At the time, the English and Dutch militaries had an intense rivalry, so the English started applying Dutch to phrases that are derisive.


Someone who is "down to earth" is what?

The origin of "down-to-earth" is unclear. However, it was in use in the 1920s. A newspaper called the Newark Advocate wrote about "garments at 'down to earth' prices.


What does it mean to be "feeling blue?"

Beginning in the late 1300s, the word blue started to mean "sad." The phrase is related to "having the blues."


What happened if you "had a blast?"

In the 1950s, a blast referred to "a wild, noisy party." The meaning was expanded to mean "a good time" in the 1960s.


What is something that is "dope?"

Dope to mean "cool" was popularized in rap music. However, the slang meaning originally referred to a narcotic. The latter usage dates to the late 1800s.


What happened if you "bombed" a test?

Bomb has two very different slang meanings. If something is "the bomb," it's awesome. If you "bomb," you did poorly.


If you're hanging with your "bestie," who are you with?

Your bestie is your best friend. The first known usage was in 1991.


What did you receive if someone gives you "swag?"

"Swag" became a popular way to describe promotional items and other free stuff in the 1990s. However, its current usage dates to the 1960s.


If you're "stoked" about something, what are you?

In 1965, "stoked" entered slang. It originally meant to add coal to a fire.


If someone tells you to "chill," what should you do?

Chill can also be used as "chill out." This dates to the 1980s.


Who are you with when you hang with your "bros?"

"Bro" was originally a shortening of "brother," informally used to refer to a male sibling. In the mid-20th century, its meaning began to expand to any man.


If something is "legit," what is it?

Legit is a shortening of "legitimate." However, it can also be used to describe something cool.


When someone responds to "Let's hang out" with "I'm down," what do they mean?

If you're "down with" something, you will also be "up for it." Both phrases mean that you want to do something.


What are college students doing when they pull an "all-nighter?"

"All-nighter" is a combination of all night and adding an -er. It was coined in the 1890s. The slang term can also refer to something that lasts all night.


If someone wants to borrow a "buck," what did they ask for?

A buck is just one of many slang terms for money. Others include Benjamins, Cheeder, big ones, and sawbuck. The word "buck" to describe money did not become popular until the late 19th century.


Why wouldn't you want to be pulled over by the cops?

In English, "cop" has long meant "to take or seize." This eventually turned into "to arrest." From there, it expanded to mean a police officer.


How often does "once in a blue moon" occur?

"Once in a blue moon" comes from the bluish appearance of the second full moon in a month. This phenomenon only occurs every 32 months.


If something is a "piece of cake," what is it?

In 1936, the earliest known usage of the phrase appeared in Ogden Nath's Primrose Path. It is similar to "easy as pie."


When two people are "shooting the breeze," what are they doing?

"Shoot the breeze" in the sense of chatting was first recorded in 1919. Prior to that coinage, the variant "shoot the bull" was first used in 1908.


When someone says FYI and proceeds to talk, what do they mean?

The earliest known usage of the abbreviation FYI was in 1941. In 1959, FYI was used in "The Twilight Zone" episode "One for the Angels."


What does to "pull a fast one" mean?

The 1920s gave us "pull a fast one." Someone attempting to "pull a fast one" may be trying to "pull one over."


When someone gives you "kudos," what are they giving you?

"Kudos" comes from Ancient Greek where it meant "glory." It originally entered English in a joking manner. By the 20th century, the word entered general use as a substitute for "praise."


When you "dig" something, what are you saying?

"Dig" received the meaning "to admire" sometime in the early-1900s. It can also mean "understand."


When you "diss" someone, what did you do?

"Dissing" is a shortened form of the word "disrespect." It entered American English in the early-1980s through hip hop music.


What does the "bottom line" refer to?

"Bottom line" literally means the last line of a financial statement. The figurative sense comes from accounting and first appeared in 1967.


If something is "not your cup of tea," what do you mean?

The positive version of the phrase, "my cup of tea," was used in the 1800s by the British to describe something enjoyable. The word "not" was added in the 1920s to give it the opposite meaning.


What is someone who "throws shade" doing?

The slang "shade" means to "show subtle contempt for someone." The phrase can be traced to the Manhattan drag community's Latino and black queens, who used the phrase in the mid-1980s. However, the first recorded use is in the documentary "Paris is Burning," which documents this community.


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