I think every town has some words and phrases that make that town unique. Well, New York City is no exception. As a city of immigrants, a lot of words common in the immigrant communities became usual slang and casual expressions in everyday English, here in the Big Apple. Today, let’s have a look at some of this language!
1. Agita (n) [A-ji-duh]: (1) Heartburn from eating something. (2) A stressful feeling from aggravation because of another person’s words or actions.
- That pizza gave me agita.
- I can’t stand hanging out with Johnny. Just being near him gives me agita.
2. Boss (n) [Bawss]: A word that a deli clerk may use to address a male customer whose name he doesn’t know.
- What do you need, boss?
- How can I help you, boss?
3. Buck (n) [Buck]: US Dollar. Note that generally, $1 is pronounced “a buck.”
- I can’t believe he charged me a buck and a half ($1.50) for a cup of ice.
- The DVD’s are five bucks ($5) each.
4. Flying Rat (n) [FLY-ing-RAT] Pigeons.
- There were a whole bunch of flying rats in the park this morning.
- Look! It’s a flying rat!
5. Fuhgedaboudit (exclam.) [fuh-GED-uh-bow-dit] This is fast pronunciation of “Forget about it.” We use this to mean, “No way! It’s no good” Or “Definitely!”
- Are you thinking of eating pizza there? Fuhgedaboudit! (no way)
- You want me to walk all the way from Central Park to Chinatown? Fuhgedaboudit! I’m taking the subway. (no way)
- Is New York the best city in the world? Fuhgedaboudit! (definitely)
6. Gavone (n) [gah-VONE]: A person who eats too much with poor table manners.
- Look at that gavone, shoving pizza in his mouth.
- Those kids are a bunch of gavones. They left such a mess on this table.
7. Not Fuh Nuttin’ (exclam.) [NOT-fuh-NUT-in]: “Not for nothing.” This phrase is used when you give your opinion about something that you believe is true, and maybe the listener doesn’t know or realize it. It’s is generally followed by “but…”
- Not Fuh Nuttin’, but this is the best pizza I’ve ever had.
- Not Fuh Nuttin’, but I wouldn’t date that guy if I were you. He’s a looser.
8. Regular coffee (n) [REG-u-lar KAW-fee]: Coffee with milk and sugar. Sometimes we just use regular by itself as an adjective.
- Can I get a regular coffee?
- “How do you take your coffee?” “Regular, please.”
9. Schlep [Schlep] (1) (v) to carry something heavy or bulky a long distance or in a difficult situation. (2) (n) a low-class person:
- I’m not looking forward to schlepping these grocery bags up three flights of stairs.
- I’m glad Jane broke up with Harvey. He’s such a schlep!
10. Scutch (n) [Skuch]: A person who is bothersome, and generally someone who is intentionally bothersome. Also known as “a pain in the neck.”
- I said no five times, but you keep asking me. Stop being a scutch!
- Jack is being such a scutch today. I wish he would stop bothering me.
11. Stoop (n) [Stoop]: The steps that go from the street to the front door of some older apartment buildings.
- We were sitting on the stoop talking about the Yankees.
- It’s too hot in this apartment. I’m going to sit on the stoop for a while.
12. Sup? (interr) [SUP or TSUP]: This is fast pronunciation of “What’s up?” A greeting question meaning “What’s new?”
- Hey Jack, sup?
13. The City (n) [the CIT-y]: Manhattan. Many people who live outside of Manhattan refer to it as “the city.”
- Nick just got a good job in the city.
- I commute to the city every morning by train.
14. The One (n) [the-ONE]: One means the #1 Subway Line. Most New Yorkers refer to a subway line just by the number or letter of the line.
- If you want to go to SOHO, take the six from Grand Central.
- I usually take the F when I want to visit my friends in Forest Hills.
15. Yooz: (pronoun) [use]: Some New Yorkers have created and use a plural form of you, “yooz.” Sometimes also “yooz guys.”
- Where are yooz going after work?
- I don’t know about yooz guys, but I’m tired. I’m going home.