Complaining about the behavior of tourists who visit your city is something that most people can relate to, especially until you go on vacation and… now you are the tourist! However, this city is not just any city, this is New York City! Regardless of whether you plan to visit her for a couple of days or if you want to move and live the American dream at the Big Apple, take a look at these famous slang words and sayings used in New York City to quickly adapt to her rhythm and get the most out of this wonderful metropolis. You’ll hear these words in the streets and everywhere!
What for us is the city, for New Yorkers is the center. That is, if you are in New York and they tell you: “I have to run some errands in the city” they refer to Manhattan, a district with a little more than 1.5 million inhabitants to which you have to add those who live in other areas but they go there for work and, of course, tourists. Now that you have a picture of the amount of people that move there, you have to think like a New Yorker and consider two things: you are in a hurry and there are many things that will slow you down. If you don’t want to irritate the locals, stay alert and aware of your surroundings and adapt to them, in other words: don’t be a hindrance! If you ask someone there to define a group of stereotypical tourists, they will very surely tell you that they are an inseparable mass with maps and cameras in the middle of the sidewalk, blocking the road. If you need to stop, do not stop at the entrances to the Subway (the subway, not the chain store) or next to the green light to stop those who want to cross.
To grill someone means to stare at someone for an extended period or time, look at them in a negative or rude way.
If, after spending a few hours walking down 5th Avenue or Broadway, you realize that you don’t want any more noise and would rather go for a walk or picnic in Central Park, then you can have a whip. Whip means car, so if you need to rent one you can say: I need to rent a whip. And remember, if you take a taxi it is customary to leave a 15-20% tip depending on the service. If you don’t, nothing may happen or you may be insulted, but hey, it’s all part of the experience.
Real talk is a way to change the tone from making joke to something serious. People usually say it when they’re about to say something they really mean or something important or something they want taken seriously.
This word also has its special meaning and, no, it is not a piece of meat. Beef means to fight or argue, for example, NAS and Jay-Z are famous hip hop sings that have beef. So now you know, if you are on the subway and you hear someone say: “I had a bad day, please do not start a beef with me”, they are saying that they are not in a condition where they wish to fight.
Going on with the food… this is one of my favorites because if you go to New York, you have to eat bagels. Although cronuts continue to reign on Instagram, for bagels to arrive from Poland to New York they had to go through ethnic conflicts, labor activism, underground political movements.. in short, they are like the city itself. This is why this word is so important if you want to eat bagels like a New Yorker. Schmear is a type of cream cheese and its origin is Yiddish (a dialect in which this word can also mean “slapped” in a more colloquial register). The word also means a lot of cream cheese.
Just as summers in New York are inspiring, cold snow-filled winters are a vital part of local life. Brick is used as an analogy to that sensation of cold that freezes and petrifies. That’s why in New York you don’t say I’m cold, but you say brick. You may hear a mother telling her young son: “It’s brick out today!”, Which means that it is cold as hell.
This expression is so popular that it even made it onto the pages of the Oxford dictionary. Apparently New Yorkers make the most of time, even to pronounce their words and that is why they have shortened the expression forget about it in this way, which means forget it and is used to refer to something improbable or that will never happen.
It may sound strange to us, but if you want to buy drinks or something to eat in New York, you can go to the bodega, which means winery, on the corner. The winery is the typical small store that always has everything. If you are Couchsurfing and your host tells you: “I’m off to a bodega to buy some groceries, you want something?”, You can ask him for that beer you’ve been wanting to drink since you arrived.
Our roots are often evident in the way we speak. Well, in New York this is kind of confusing. The expression dead ass is the equivalent of I swear! New Yorkers use it to describe something that is incredible and that really happened.
Despite their aversion to being blocked when they are in a hurry, New Yorkers are very friendly. The city has not earned its world fame for free, travel to New York on your own and create your own opinion of this great city. You will love it, dead ass!