Do You Know Your Urban Slang?

Yesterday while watching a YouTube game review I scrolled down to the comments, which is always a futile exercise, only to discover that I didn’t recognise what I was reading. This could be down to my age now that I’m on the wrong side of 60, but I do try to keep up with the latest lingo – sad, sixties boomer that I am. Here, take a look:


It’s not often that I have to turn to Google for a translation of my own native language but on this occasion, I was stumped. It turns out that massive W or huge W, in its more common form, means “huge win”. That’s a duh! moment right there, where my daughter would probably ask, “Dad, where have you been?”.


I have to assume that awarding something with an L means that it’s a loser because I can’t find a meaning for this anywhere. Dayum, on the other hand, is an expletive and slang for damn! which I can only assume originated in the southern United States, much like y’all, but that’s another story.

Clearly, the Internet has a lot to answer for in our ever-changing English language and it won’t be long before we’re all communicating in single-syllable sound bites, much like our close relatives, the primates. Mind you, Londoners came up with Cockney rhyming slang long before the Internet was conceived. So, talking of monkeys, in Cockney rhyming slang, £500 is a monkey, dog and bone is a phone, duck and dive is hide – you get the drift. Cockney rhyming slang, not to mention military jargon, might be the mothers of urban slang which is so ingrained in everyday usage that it now creeps into TV and films. FYI (for your information) is now used frequently by on-screen characters, which I found a little odd and out of place at first. Then we have copy that, stay frosty, he’s toast, and the utterly deplorable, my bad, two words when joined at the hip that make my skin crawl. Seriously.

Here are some slang terms that you may or may not find useful:

Rent-free – when you can’t stop thinking about something and it stays in your mind

Blamestorming – pointing out who was to blame for a failure (usually in a business meeting)

Brocopalypse – a large gathering of males getting drunk

Zombie ad – a political advertisement that’s still around long after an election is over (seen plenty of those in these parts)

Wtf! – (needs no introduction)

Ego surfing – searching for yourself on the Internet (I must try that!)

Humblebrag – boasting about something whilst trying to be humble. For example: “I’m exhausted after that two-week holiday in Hawaii. I need another holiday.”

I can’t imagine myself using such terms in actual, face-to-face conversation (as they do in some films, fyi), but I have used some when texting, with wtf! being my fave. What is also interesting is that a lot of English urban slang has crossed over into Spanish, in which bro, googlear, hackear and one of my favourites, suéter (sweater) feature heavily.

As you may have guessed, I’m fascinated by language and since I live in a Spanish-speaking country, I come across urban usage every day and often have to ask the person to repeat what they just said. For example, a few years ago, I would be asked where the seeber was and after much head-scratching, I realised that what they really wanted was a cybercafe – cyber/seeber, not forgetting that Spanish is completely phonetic, as opposed to English.

One last one is how I was asked to provide a maader. Now that one really stopped me in my tracks, but it turned out that they wanted a motherboard, which in Spanish is usually referred to simply as a mother. But since Spanish doesn’t have the ‘U’ pronunciation as in muther, they pronounce it maader. Get it?

You’re welcome!

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