The Coolest California Slangs You Need To Know

On our journey to discover the most well known American slang terms, after Texas and Chicago, we arrive to California. If you’re visiting California and plan to experience it like a local then you should know it’s not enough to just eat burritos, avocados and hamburgers from the In-N-Out. Besides this diet, sunbathing whenever you can and experiencing incredible traffic, there’s one more thing to get your closer to your goal. And that’s learning to speak like a true Californian. Let’s take a look at the coolest California slangs that you need to know!

The industry

Hollywood sign

When you say the industry in California it can only mean one thing. It refers to Hollywood, so actors, actresses, directors, producers and other professionals who are cogwheels of the American Dream. If you say you’re in the industry it means you’re trying to make it in the filmmaking business. How can you know that you made it? When your name appears in the credits at the end of a movie.


San Francisco, California

When something is a bust it means it was bad or unsuccessful. In other words, something that failed. For example a movie can be a bust, or the exam was a bust.



Gnarly may refer to task or even a wound. The slang’s roots lie in the surfing scene of California in 1970, when saying something is gnarly meant something was messed up, twisted or just serious. For example if a skater falls and scrapes their knee, based on how the injury looks, someone could call it gnarly.



Hella is the Californian way of saying “hell of” and is used to refer to something there is very much of or a lot. For example “this burger is hella tasty” means that the burger is very delicious. Another example is when people say Hella day which mean a hell of a day or a very difficult or crazy day.



Ballin is somewhat of the opposite of bust and usually refers to a person who is doing well, being successful and above all, making a lot of money. Someone living the big life can be called a baller, or he’s ballin’.

Spot and dub


Spotting someone in California is different from spotting someone in the gym. It means you’re covering a bill for them, inviting them to a drink or a meal, lending them money. This is where dub comes in, which stand for a $20 bill. So if someone comes and tell you “Can you spot me a dub?” they mean they want to borrow $20.

Get in where you fit in


The roots of this slang lie in the fact that driving in Los Angeles can be quiet chaotic. They call it the jungle for a reason. So the slang is something you say when you’re driving frustrated and cut some one off for example.

On heavy rotation


This slang refers mainly to music and stands for the songs that are constantly on loop because they’re very popular at that moment, but doesn’t have to be limited to music. In general anything you can’t get enough of, you could say is on heavy rotation, repeating often.


Beautiful sunset through the palm trees, Los Angeles, California

In the slang sense of the word, cooking is not involved in the slightest. To marinate means to chill, rest or relax. If you say you’re marinating, it means you’re taking it easy that day.