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17 California Slang Terms: How to Speak Like a Californian

17 California Slang TermsSlang is one of the most interesting and fun aspects of a language.

The more slang you know, the easier it is to connect and make friends with native speakers.

People from California love to use and make up their own slang, adding color and personality to the language.

A lot of the slang used in California is also used by the rest of the United States, partly because of Hollywood and partly because a lot of people want to move to California. People from California tend to use much more slang than people in other parts of the U.S.

FREE Slang Guide: 101 Words You Won’t Learn in School

Also, because of Hollywood and music, California slang gets spread to the rest of the English speaking world as well.

One of the great things about slang is that it makes normal, boring things sound much cooler and more exciting. For example, check out “post up,” “cruise,” and “bail” below (among others).

Here are some of the most common California slang terms that you’ve probably never heard of:

17 California Slang Terms

Bail – to leave a place. (Bail also means the temporary release of someone awaiting trial for a crime.) For example, if you’re at a friend’s house and you want to go home, you can say, “Hey man, I’m tired. I’m gonna bail.”

Bomb(ie) – you can say something is bomb when you really like it. When a girl is very attractive, you can call her a bombie. (Bomb also means an explosive.) For example, “Angelina Joline is so bomb,” or “Angelina Joline is such a bombie.

Bum – to borrow/have. (Bum is also another word for a homeless person.) For example, if you order food that costs $8.25 you can ask your friend to bum a quarter.

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Butthurt – when someone gets upset over a small thing. You use this to emphasize how easily someone got upset about something so small. For example, Joe got butthurt when Cami didn’t answer her phone.

To call (someone) out – to say someone is wrong. For example, I decided to wait until after the speech before calling him out on his mistake.

Claiminit – what you say when someone is bragging. (Claim also means to state something is true, usually without evidence.) For example, if someone’s talking about how cool they are because they can do a backflip on a snowboard, you can say while rolling your eyes, “Claimin’ it,” or “he claims so hard.”

Clutch – when someone unexpectedly has something that helps a situation. (Clutch also means to grab tightly.) For example, if you buy some wine but you don’t have a wine opener at your house, but your friend has one in his backpack, that’s clutch.

Cruise – another way to say “come” or “leave.” (Cruise also means to sail about for pleasure, often with no desitination.) For example, “Hey man, you wanna cruise over to my place after work?” Or, “Hey man, it’s getting late. I’m gonna cruise.”

Dank – another way to say something is good. (Dank also means disagreeably damp and stale.) This originated from marijuana, but is commonly used for other things as well. For example, “This food is dank, I could eat it every day.”

Drag – to inhale cigarette smoke. (Drag also means to pull something or someone with force.) For example, if someone is smoking a cigarette, you can say, “Hey man, can I get a drag?”

Heavy – when something is very sad or depressing. (Heavy also means something that weighs a lot.) For example, if someone tells you their cousin died yesterday, you could say, “Damn, dude. That’s heavy...”

Mob – similar to cruise, but it usually implies to come quickly, often by foot, bike, or skateboard. (Mob also means a large crowd of people.) For example, if you ask someone to cruise over to your house after work, and they say they don’t have a car you can say, “Just mob, dude.

Post up – to stand around (often leaning against a wall) without doing much. You can use this when telling some to wait for you, “Just post up here, I’ll be right back,” or if you’re in the club, “hey let’s post up by the bar.” This is a little bit like hang out. [link]

Put (someone) on blast – to make fun of someone in front of other people. If someone is making fun of your new haircut at a party in front of other people, you could say, “Yo dude, why’re you putting me on blast?

To rock (something) – to wear clothes/accessories with style. (Rock also means to move gently from side to side.) For example, if someone asked to borrow white sock from me, I could say, “Sorry man, I only rock black socks.” Also, asking someone, “Can I rock this?” is another way of saying, “Does this look good on me?”

Swooped – to steal/take. (Swoop also means a fast, downward movement through the air, usually by a bird.) This is also used when you’re trying to get with a girl and someone else ends up hooking up with her. For example, if you’re sitting in the front of a car and you leave to go to the bathroom, and someone takes your spot, they swooped you (or you “got swooped”).

Part II – 16 More California Slang Terms

Did you think this was it? You’re trippin’ out, bro!

Get pumped for the second part of this series, and learn 16 more cool California slang terms.

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  • Thanks, Trevor, this article is hella dope!

  • Farzan Rafieyan says:

    Ashkan Ansari and Doug Ryan: that was funny.

  • aleid says:

    hey,thanks for post , I just wanna say I have been studying ENGLISH for several years ,I’ve read several novels in ENGLISH up to 11 until now and thousands of new york times and the econemist articles not to mention watching a bunch of AMERICAN movies ,songs , reality show . also worth mentioning lived in uk for a year. being an exchange student at MCGIL university for a semester (montreal,canada) still sadly enounter new words, idiom ,pharsal verbs etc.. I feel really blue beacuse of that one reason beacuse wanna to move to learning a third language but if ENGLISH extremely easy as opposed to oriental tonal languages or even EUROPEAN such as salvic or even german took from me this of amount of work and still need to learn more and more , I do understand learning a language a lifelong jorney and there is always room for improvement but this an overwhelming endeavor now my question is it wise to start learning a third language while I still encounter new words in ENGLISH .I will start learning german soon beacuse I need it my company ask me to learn it since they have cooperation with germans companies otherwise they will fire me ,they will pay me all the bills for tutors ,travels ,acommadation,etc .. they asked me to finish b2 within six months and doing bussines courses afterwards , is it possible within this frame time and is true easier to learn a third language than a second language also how i will keep and improve my ENGLISH while studying GERMAN please help I need your insight your answer will be really important for me . about me I am ARABIC native speaker, I am 27 year old ,I will travel to germany 10/6 /2013 just after two months , my plan in german language to listen videos and read for beginner as much as possible when I go there I will work with tutor since they will pay me,so I guess learning process will be speedy than a class room.thanks a bunch in an anticipation .

    • Trevor says:

      Hey Aleid, thanks for your comment!

      You are correct when you say that learning your third language is easy than learning your second.

      As for whether it’s a good idea for you to learn English and German at the same time, only you can answer that question. How badly do you want to learn English? How important is it to you? Do you have enough time to learn two languages at once?

      Personally, I would recommend you try to practice your English at least a little bit each day, even if it’s only 15 minutes. This could be just doing all of the things you’ve already do like watching movies, listening to music, etc.

  • Yosef Vega says:

    Thanks, that was very helpful.

  • Farzan Rafieyan says:

    Seyed Mojtaba Mansouripour: You cam learn how to speak like Californians hahahaha, probably you gave up your Minnesotan accent ;).

  • Marcio says:

    Good Morning Trevor! your article is awesome man, however I have a doubt and I guess you can answer it. Here in Brazil or at least in the southern side of the country, there are some slang but only a tribe could used like GLS people, it very common they said; That bitch gives a ‘Elza’ : Elza means , roubar. And It’s no usual someone out of that tribe say something like that. So This California Slang above everybody used or some group of people? I mean can I hear a teen or a elder say in the street something like : Post up here, I ‘ll be right back. thanks.

    • Trevor says:

      Hey Marcio, good question. Many of these words are very common for the younger generation, people in their 20s and 30s who live in California. Unlike Brazil, it’s much more uncommon for elderly people and younger people to speak the same. Most of these words older people won’t use, but they will understand.

  • Livia Randaccio Mello Franco says:

    pretty amazing boyzzz.

  • Livia Randaccio Mello Franco says:

    who wants to kiss me?

  • Livia Randaccio Mello Franco says:

    who wants to kiss me?

  • Lalito Cynara says:

    U're a food person

  • Reed Jones says:

    you wouldn't say that some chick is such "A bomby" you would just say shes bombie you can say bombie or bomb the same, like this food's bombie brooo. Also nobody says "clutch," and same with claiming, at least not in that context… 😉

    • Jc says:

      I concur. Tho I never heard Bomby, there da bomb or just plain bomb. Maybe they’re referring to “boxie”

  • Michael Page says:

    Most of that stuff appears to be ghetto slang. I hardly recognize any of it.

  • Ali G. Wood says:

    "brah, that shit's hella dank ass." Literally all you will hear in Humboldt…

  • Valerie Lynn says:

    Just moved to Folsom from Chicago. Thought this could be helpful but it's the same slang we use. I'll prob bring a few out here!!

  • william says:

    i need to perform my english

  • […] California Slang Terms: How to Speak Like a Californian. (2013, April 4). Real Life English RSS. Retrieved March 29, 2014, from http://reallifebh.com/california-slang-terms […]

  • Khepera says:

    I live in cali and 50% of this is not true…just say’in

    • Justin says:

      I’m curious, were you born there? The guy who wrote this article is from Huntington Beach, California. I guess that means something.

      • lexi says:

        Uhhhh I live in norcal and it’s totally true… teenagers and 20-somethings use these.. and they’re slang, you don’t use them w adults man

    • Petunia says:

      I’m a California native and don’t recognize a lot of these words. They seem more likely for teens and people that want to be ‘cool’.

    • TahoeJohnny says:

      Too funny. Just came across your comment about your living in “Cali”. I assume you are not FROM California? Just teasing. 🙂

  • rex says:

    drag also refers to taking a hit from a bong or joint

  • Jared Dean Thomson says:

    Are you sure this article shouldn't be Colorado slang?

  • Kim Mika says:

    Literally never hear/use half of those. Must be regional…probably NorCal.

  • I was going to say the exact same thing, only "…Must be regional…probably SouthCal." (I'm from NorCal) haha

  • Samuel Hardy says:

    I use 90% of that shit. Its a SoCal thing.

    • Zuzu says:

      Nope. I’m 58 and have lived in NorCal my whole life. These have been used since the 60’s or 79’s regularly.
      My husband is a 7th generation Californian. Our kids 8th gen.
      We use them all the time.

  • Jessica says:

    95% of the words I use and I’m from Southern California – SD.

  • Jess Alicdan says:

    I'm living in CO right now and I've only heard less than half of these words used here.

  • Jess Alicdan says:

    Yeah, I use 95% of these. Definitely SoCal

  • Jared Dean Thomson says:

    You haven't been here your whole life or met enough locals then

  • David Wisniewski says:

    I have regularly heard and used 11/17 of these terms all my life. I'm honestly surprised to see bum, butthurt, drag, and to rock something on this list – I just assumed those were used everywhere.
    I'm thinking this slang is from the central valley – Stockton to Fresno, along the 99. So…like maybe 1/25th of California.

  • Mary Lamons says:

    The only term I've never used is "claimin' it"… never heard it. Also, mob was portrayed incorrectly; it usually suggests a very long journey, which can be made by car, bike, board, or foot. I heard these terms mostly in high school. I think it's a generational gap instead of a distance.

  • Brian Huynh says:

    Yep, live in Nor Cal and everyone revolves around a good 98% of this.

  • Mars says:

    I found this super accurate as an Egyptian livin in Cali, perhaps you wanna add, Broo That Was (Narly/ Gnarly!), haha my fav word! Cheers 😀

    • VoxPopulus says:

      As a native Californian, may I offer one small bit of advice, Mars? The word “Cali” isn’t used by Californians! And at least within my circles (and they’re both broad AND deep circles throughout my state) that’s considered to be something of a derogatory term.

      • Margaret MacGregor says:

        Before I moved here I was told not to refer to it as Cali, and also never call San Francisco, ‘Frisco!

        • VoxPopulus says:

          And you were VERY well-advised, Margaret! Thank your advisors – on behalf of THIS native CaliFORNIAN! (And FWIW, welcome to California – although this may be really tardy – I’d guess you’re probably a full-fledged CALIFORNIAN now, and we’re glad you are!)

          • Margaret MacGregor says:

            I thank my husband of 20 years!

          • VoxPopulus says:

            A doubly-wise man, then!

  • Mars says:

    I found this super accurate as an Egyptian livin in Cali, perhaps you wanna add, Broo That Was (Narly/ Gnarly!), haha my fav word! Cheers 😀

    • VoxPopulus says:

      As a native Californian, may I offer one small bit of advice, Mars? The word “Cali” isn’t used by Californians! And at least within my circles (and they’re both broad AND deep circles throughout my state) that’s considered to be something of a derogatory term.

      • Margaret MacGregor says:

        Before I moved here I was told not to refer to it as Cali, and also never call San Francisco, ‘Frisco!

        • VoxPopulus says:

          And you were VERY well-advised, Margaret! Thank your advisors – on behalf of THIS native CaliFORNIAN! (And FWIW, welcome to California – although this may be really tardy – I’d guess you’re probably a full-fledged CALIFORNIAN now, and we’re glad you are!)

          • Margaret MacGregor says:

            I thank my husband of 20 years!

          • VoxPopulus says:

            A doubly-wise man, then!

  • BasicWhiteGirl says:

    i say “gnarly”…lived in California my whole life. and say “man” (when talking to both girls and guys) …like, man, that food was good…oh and i guess i say “like” often

  • css514 says:

    i say “gnarly”…lived in California my whole life. and say “man” (when talking to both girls and guys) …like, man, that food was good…oh and i guess i say “like” often

  • R. says:

    ? this.

    It’s funny because I grew up saying “Cali” for California. As a Coaster (term for West Coast dude), “Cali” was a friendly anticipatory word for cruisin where it’s warm on your day off. Now millennials have made the term a negative 🙁 Don’t they know everyone basically would love to live there or at least visit & like to have a little nickname for their favorite spot?

    Cali was originally coined by Latinos living in California so it bugs me when people down grade it’s authenticity. Not that LL Cool J didn’t have anything to do with bringin it into the mainstream ;^)

    #Cali #dude #Postup

    • VoxPopulus says:

      As a native Californian (just getting prepared to begin my 6th decade as one, to boot!) that’s the opposite of my experience. It was NEVER a term anyone used – at least those who wanted to be taken seriously! It was always a way of distinguishing between “real” Californians and those who merely wanted to be!! Whenever we heard anyone use that word, eyes would roll – and it was usually because the perp wasn’t from CaliFORNIA! It just sounds more than a little silly, a little – effeminate perhaps. Would a Mississippian call his/her state “Missi”? Or a Minnesotan “Minni”? My Latino friends – by the way – ALSO roll their eyes when they hear that shortened, improper term for our state!

      • Real Life English says:

        Awesome insight from a Cali native! Much appreciated :0)

  • R. says:

    ❤ this.

    It’s funny because I grew up saying “Cali” for California. As a Coaster (term for West Coast dude), “Cali” was a friendly anticipatory word for cruisin where it’s warm on your day off. Now millennials have made the term a negative 🙁 Don’t they know everyone basically would love to live there or at least visit & like to have a little nickname for their favorite spot?

    Cali was originally coined by Latinos living in California so it bugs me when people down grade it’s authenticity. Not that LL Cool J had anything to do with bringin it into the mainstream ;^)

    #Cali #dude #Postup

    • VoxPopulus says:

      As a native Californian (just getting prepared to begin my 6th decade as one, to boot!) that’s the opposite of my experience. It was NEVER a term anyone used – at least those who wanted to be taken seriously! It was always a way of distinguishing between “real” Californians and those who merely wanted to be!! Whenever we heard anyone use that word, eyes would roll – and it was usually because the perp wasn’t from CaliFORNIA! It just sounds more than a little silly, a little – effeminate perhaps. Would a Mississippian call his/her state “Missi”? Or a Minnesotan “Minni”? My Latino friends – by the way – ALSO roll their eyes when they hear that shortened, improper term for our state!

  • Jose says:

    I used “I’m good.” Like “It’s okay.”, “I’m fine.”. Was I the only one who used that slang, “I’m good.”?

  • Elizabeth Putnam says:

    As a millennial and someone who lived in California for 19 years, I had the same experience from VoxPopulus. Until I moved to Massachusetts, I never heard the term Cali. Where I lived in California, people used California. In Massachusetts, people use Cali to describe California. Not many people in state who were born and raised in California use Cali.

  • Karen Outar says:

    It’s insane…a lot of that slang is used up here in Toronto

  • Please don’t say bombie, it’s just bomb bruh, idk where y’all got bombie from XD

    As for mob we usually say mobbin, “Mobbin with my crew” “We out here mobbin” we usually only use mob singularly when describing the crew/group of friends “Where’s the mob at fam?” “The mob over that way”

    Swooped sound waaaayyy too similar to suwoop, so I wouldn’t take that chance if I was y’all. Mess around and have someone pull up on y’all for that ish. I’m just saying fam.

    For “claimin it”, it’s just Claim no need to at the it since we already know whatever you’re claiming when you talk about it, so we usually say “He stay claimin” basically the person constantly bringing up whatever it is they done. NOT “He claims so hard” just, no.

  • Hella Nor Cal says:

    Hella Nor Cal est. 1979 — I never heard anybody I grew up with say Cali, born, raised in Nor Cal…We say NOR CAL or HELLA NOR CAL…We dont like to be affliated with the over wearing Metal Mulisha / Flat Bill Hats That Are To BIG For The Head using words like Epic, Narly that are bred in Low Cal…Here in Nor Cal we have the BEST Weed, The BEST Wine, The Best People, Trust me, Low Cal is like the annoying stepbrother that has no friends and annoys everyone…they can have hollyhood…we got the Bay !!!

    HELLA NOR CAL 4LIFE —

    • Jc says:

      Crazy that only “NorCal” hates like this dude in the above comment. Dude look at a map. You ain’t even Northern Cali. You/ the bay is Central CA. It’s even referred to by just about Every Californian as CCC ( Central coast California ) Anyway SoCAL despite what you see in here in Hollywood got mad love for everybody ain’t too much hate’n going on around here In South Bay. Ima rider and several homeboys from NorCal so I don’t see the N vs S like gen pop. We don’t even see the Harley vs crotch ? tension that NorCal and the rest of the country see. Down here in SoCal especially in SoBay, you on two wheels, then you Lit Fam YOLO fo sho. Hip Hop follows that same trend ie: LA and Oakland throw’n props back & forth non-stop all the time. Anyway, maybe NorCal boy up here should petition for his part of the state to be changed to Arizona North.

  • Hella Lame, Don’t think for one second we aren’t smokin n drinkin that Dank from northern California. Hatin ass hoe, you mad cause you ain’t us. Probably stuck in some shitty little pot hole town with hill Billy lookin ass bitches with Harry ass bushs. While SoCal is WestCoastin enjoying our slang, rep’n our gang, feeling our wine, high af and our fit’s n whip’s on fleek. Yeah!! Lol We stay mad dope. Trevor I really just wanted to just say you got a hell of a run outta this one, 2018 still getting comment’s. One Love WestCoastCrazy.

  • L says:

    How are the just gonna leave out legit & hella.

  • ShadeFireDragon says:

    I dunno about this. I’ve lived in California my whole life, and this is the first time I’ve heard a lot of these words. “Butthurt”? I-i dunno about that one dude

    • Dave says:

      I use Butthurt quite often!

  • Erik says:

    “for sure” as well
    -Native

  • Ray says:

    In Southern California, does people call other people “cousin”?

  • Bruuuuuuuh this lit slang is soooo narly ma duuuuude. Ima rock this dank stuff

  • Dave says:

    I Live, And was born in Cali,
    Some of these i dont recognize but some i do!
    the ones i Do are
    Bail
    Bomb
    Bum
    Butthurt
    Calling someone out
    Clutch
    Dank
    Drag
    Heavy
    Rocking somethin
    and Swooped,

    Though i personally use
    Bail
    Bum
    Butthurt,
    Drag
    Heavy
    alot in the way i talk, though i do use
    Dank
    Bomb
    Rocking somethin
    and Swooped as to say in a Joke sense,
    Like–
    “Oh MaN Im TOTALLY ROCKING THESE SHOWS”
    When- they’re like– i dunno- Sketchers

    Also- Another word is Hella, I dont hear Hella ever outside of California.

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