Hey! This is part 2 of my California series: lingo. Here’s a small dictionary for understanding Californians, and being able to speak like one too!

Tight - cool, awesome (SoCal)
Person 1: I make millions off YouTube ads.
Person 2: That’s tight!!

Hella - Can be used in different ways. 1. Very, really 2. A lot 3. I agree, used as an affirmation. Alternative: hecka (NorCal)
1. I’m hella tired.
2. There’s HELLA people here.
3. Person 1: This party is lit! Person 2: Hella!

california and hella image
Warning: Hella is the most controversial word in California slang. It is very symbolic of Bay Area/NorCal pride. There are some Southern Californians who will give you side eye for it.

Sus - short for suspicious/suspect, means suspicious/shady, not trustworthy (SoCal)
Person: This food is sus. I don’t wanna eat it.

Facts - used as an affirmation, something you say if you think something is true. (I think this is from NorCal)
Person 1: you guys! This avocado toast is bomb af!
Person 2: Facts.

Finna- replacement for
“gonna” (SoCal)
I’m finna go to Sig Nu tonight!

You guys- everywhere in California. Do not say “y’all” unless it’s a joke. “You guys” can be used to address guys, girls, or a group of both
Hey you guys! What’s up?

Down - how to say you want to do something.
Person 1: there’s a party at lamda tonight! Let’s go!
Person 2: I’m down!

Dude- I have noticed in other places that “dude” is only used to address boys. In California, people say “dude” to address both guys and girls.

Trippin- used when someone who is sober is saying something that doesn’t make sense.
Person 1: I thought you spelled California with a “k”.
Person 2: girl you trippin!

Don’t trip = don’t freak out
Jack: dude I’m gonna fail this test!
Carly: dude don’t trip! You literally studied all day!

Dank - NorCal version of “tight”. Can be used more generally, however. Means something is high quality/awesome. Originally used to describe good quality weed. Now used to describe lots of food.
Person: This boba is fuckin dank bro!

Clutch- another way to describe when someone “comes through”
Person 1: I forgot my lighter, but Shy came in clutch with his!

Swoop - to steal, used in a large variety so I’ll give more than 1 example
1. Cruise broke up with Brandy. Then Patrick totally came in and swooped. (Brandy and Patrick are dating.)
2. Aspen gets up from her seat to go to the bathroom. As Joey goes to steal Aspen’s seat, he says “I’m finna swoop.” When Aspen comes back, she says “Fuck, I got swooped!”

Gnarley - originates from surfer lingo. When something is scary/gross/intense. (Pronounced narley)
Brad: Dude, Stacy, look I sliced my finger open!
Stacy: Aw that’s gnarley!

Gnar - 1. Shortened version of “gnarley”. Can mean gross, but also can mean cool! (Gnarley will not be used to say something is cool. Only gnar can mean cool. Yeah...it’s confusing lol)
2. Used in the phrase “shred the gnar”. The phrase is used for skateboarding, snowboarding (surprise, it snows here!), and surfing. Basically means you’re going to go do this activity, and do the specific activity intensely. This is mostly used in joking terms, and if you say this seriously, people will prob laugh at you lol.

Rip- what you say about someone when something goes bad for them or when something is gonna suck. (Stands for Rest In Peace)
Elle: I’m taking my final tomorrow and I know nothing!
Tyler: Rip you!
Elle: rip me.

Whip- your car/ride
Lucy: look at jake’s new whip 😍

Stoked- pumped/excited
Luke: I’m stoked for this concert dudeee!

Hyphy- honestly, I never have heard anyone actually say this, but since it’s a famous NorCal word, I’m including it in the list. It just means to go crazy/get out of hand/ act dangerously or dumb. Usually a person who is drunk will be acting hyphy. (Pronounced high-fee)
Liz: we got hyphy at the club!

Mob- Another one I personally have never heard before, but am including since it’s v popular. Comes from San Diego. Means to come or go.
Chase: We’re going to get acai bowls! You should mob!

1. Do NOT say Cali. Please. So bad. Just no. Biggest give away that you’re not from California. Californians stop referring to it as “Cali” after like elementary school.
2. San Francisco is “The City”. It is also acceptable to call San Francisco “SF” or “San Fran”. Don’t say “Frisco”. Cringe
3. Freeways. In NorCal, people say freeway numbers without putting “the” in front. In SoCal, “the” does go in front of the number! (NorCal: “Just take 17 to Santa Cruz!” vs SoCal: “I’m on the 1!”)
4. When people talk to friends, “dude” and “man” are the most commonly used ways to address them. You can say these to girls!!! However, depending on the person, you might not want to call someone you have a crush on “dude” or “man” because they may think you only see them as a friend. But depends on the person! Personally, I don’t pay attention to that, put my roommate freaks the fuck out if her crush calls her dude!
5. “Yeah, no” = no
6. “No, yeah” = yes
7. “Yeah, no, for sure” = definitely!
8. Yay Area = Bay Area
9. People give distance in time. (This is due to varying amounts of traffic). An example that could describe a place 1 mile away or 10 miles away: It’s 15 minutes away.

ca, you, and california image

Disclaimer: a lot of these exist in other places. Not every California person says these things. This is just a general list of things I have noticed! Thank you for reading!

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