10 slang expressions your English textbook won’t teach you

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Slang & Informal English E-Book

10 slang expressions your English textbook won't teach you Espresso EnglishThese 10 slang words are common in spoken American English, but you probably won’t find them in English textbooks.

Why not? Well, some of them are slightly offensive and others are just extremely informal. But they are part of the English language, so here are examples and definitions to help you understand!

ass-kisser / brown-noser / suck up 

These words describe a person who tries very hard to please another person (especially a boss or someone in a position of authority) in order to get a personal advantage.

For example, let’s say you have a co-worker named Brad and the department director’s name is Caleb. Brad always does nice things for Caleb, says the Caleb’s ideas are brilliant, gives gifts to Caleb and does extra favors for him – only because Brad is hoping to get a promotion. You might say, “Brad is such a suck up. All he does is kiss Caleb’s ass.”

Be careful: These terms (especially ass-kisser) are offensive. It’s not a good idea to use them at work!

hit below the belt 

A comment or action that is especially cruel or unfair can be said to “hit below the belt.” This slang expression comes from the fact that if you hit a man below his belt (in his genital area), it will really hurt – and such an attack is considered unfair in most martial arts and other fighting sports.

For example, let’s say you’re talking about a debate between two politicians in which one said some things that were especially mean. You might say, “Criticizing the opponent’s ideas is one thing… but calling him a fat, lazy pig is hitting below the belt.”


Among friends, if somebody calls “dibs” on something, it means they are “reserving” the first or best part for themselves.

For example, let’s say there is only one piece of chocolate cake in the fridge. If your roommate says “I got dibs on the last piece of cake,” he is saying that the piece of cake is his, and you can’t eat it!

Note: To reserve the front seat of a car, people often say “Shotgun!” or “I call shotgun!”

freeload / mooch 

To “freeload” or “mooch” is to get something for free or live off the generosity of friends, without giving anything in return.

For example, let’s say you have a friend named Craig who lives with you, but he isn’t working or studying. He eats your food but doesn’t help pay for the rent or groceries. You might say: “Craig’s not doing much of anything – he’s just freeloading.”

knocked up   

If a woman gets “knocked up,” it means she got pregnant – often unintentionally (without wanting or planning to). 

For example, let’s say you have a friend named Amanda who had sex with a celebrity. Later, she discovered she was pregnant. You might say, “Amanda got knocked up by a famous actor, but he claims he’s not the father of the baby.”

Be careful: “Knocked up” is not a very nice expression. Don’t say it about yourself, and never say it directly to a pregnant woman.


“Hammered” is one of many ways to say very drunk with alcohol.

For example, if you’re at a party and one of your friends has drunk 20 beers, you might say, “He’s completely hammered! He can’t even stand up!”

A few other ways to say “hammered” include wasted, juiced, sauced, sloshed, plastered, trashed, and shit-faced. ”Shit-faced” is a little bit offensive.

Note: with all these words, you can use “completely” or “totally,” but not “very.”

“He’s totally wasted”
“He’s very wasted”

“She’s completely hammered”
“She’s very hammered”

hit the spot 

If something “hit the spot,” it means it was exactly what you wanted or needed. It is most commonly used with food and drink.

For example, let’s say you just finished running 5 miles and you feel hot and thirsty. You buy an ice-cold lemonade and drink it – it is delicious and very cold. You might say, “Ahh, that really hit the spot.”

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10 slang expressions your English textbook won't teach you Espresso English

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