Bay Area slang: a vocabulary lesson for non-native students

Coming from all parts of the country, we knew there would be a bit of a cultural gap when we Cloggers first moved to Berkeley. Now we can say without a doubt that one of the greatest barriers between ourselves and Bay Area locals was not politics, fashion trends or fracking (although these topics were all met with a great deal of ridicule, anger and straight up confusion). No, the true “gap” was caused by something much simpler – something we did not realize until we found ourselves incapable of understanding almost entire sentences spoken by our friends native to the Bay Area, who eventually enlightened us in the intricacies of Bay Area slang. To fellow out-of-staters and Californians not from around Berkeley, you are not alone. And to prove that, we asked some of our hometown friends to guess the definitions of common Bay Area terms. To those of you from the Bay Area, may you continue to awe us with your hella dope language.

“Simpin” 

adj.

What we thought it meant: dancing weirdly, the act of sulking in the corner, someone who’s bitter

What it actually means: the act of missing someone or something (ex: “I’m simpin’.”)

 

“Juiced”

adj.

What we thought it meant: buff, under the influence, exhausted

What it actually means: to get pumped up or excited (ex: “This concert got me juiced!”)

 

“Purpin’”

verb

What we thought it meant: plotting revenge, being jealous, getting into someone else’s business

What it actually means: to lie hesitantly in order to cover something up or pretend something happened when it actually did not (ex: “Don’t be purpin’ about things again.”)

 

“Joog”

adj.

What we thought it meant: name of a creature in children’s book, to tease someone, an alternative way to say “what’s up” (ex: “what’s the joog?”)

What it actually means: to get something for a discounted price, for “hooking someone up” or offering a good deal (ex: “I got this for joog.”)

 

“Jawsin’”

verb

What we thought it meant: sneaking around, hiding your anger about something, hallucinating

What it actually means: to lie (ex: “you’re jawsin’!”)

 

“Swoop”

verb

What we thought it meant: steal your girl, to beat someone up really quickly, to be in the mood to party (ex: “I wanna swoop tonight.”)

What it actually means: to pick someone up (ex: “Come swoop me!”)

 

“Boosie”

adj.

What we thought it meant: to meddle in drugs or alcohol, another word for idiot, an alcoholic

What it actually means: lame, pathetic (ex: “He’s actin’ hella boosie.”)

 

“On mamas”

What we thought it meant: the act of hitting on a girl, a name for a guy who likes older women, when you’re shopping with your mom’s credit card

What it actually means: to swear or to make an oath, as in “I swear on my mom” (ex: “On mamas, I’m not lying.”)

 

“Cattin’”

verb

What we thought it meant: to be suspicious, to fool someone, to seduce or manipulate

What it actually means: the act of flaking out on someone or being unreliable

 

“Hyphy”

adj.

What we thought it meant: when something is really clear or in high definition, to be excited, can be used as a greeting (ex: “hyphy, girl!”)

What it actually means: crazy, high-energy, acting like a fool (ex: “I’m about to get hyphy!”)

Image source: kyle rw via Creative Commons

Contact Carina Zhao at [email protected].