"High Key” These New York Slangs Are Worth Knowing

22 June 2023
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Japanese House
Unsplash: Maria Teneva

When in New York, take the slang expressions you hear around you and take the cannoli too. Don’t leave anything behind. Well, maybe leave the trash in the bin. That’s it. Otherwise, take everything with you because one of the best things that a place like New York can give you is a shoebox of memories. And those, you do have to take with you because those memories are irreplaceable and are always going to be part of you.

Generally, you think of New York as this kaleidoscope of movie scenes that you’ve already seen. From Central Park to the steps of the Met to the yellow cabs passing to the orange leaves falling… hmmm, yep those have already been depicted in like almost all of the movies and shows set in the city that never sleeps. So yeah, guess you are very much familiar with those. But what you might not be familiar with is New York slang. Hah no, I’m not talking about “cawfee” when referring to a hot cup of coffee or “dawwg” when referring to a cute dog because those are just words said in the distinctive New York accent. I’m talking about words and phrases that many New Yorkers use when talking about something. Are you familiar with any of them and their meanings? If not, scroll ahead and find out.

  • the City: specifically referring to Manhattan
  • bop: a very good song
  • yeah nah: no
  • nah yah: yes
  • no cap: not lying
  • B and T: bridge and tunnel
  • low key: to describe something that is not obvious
  • high key: to describe something very obvious
  • mad: another term for "very"
  • brick: to describe something very cold
  • whip: a term to call a very expensive car
  • B: a term of endearment for a friend or a loved one
  • mack: to flirt with someone
  • bread: money
  • wavy: to describe something very cool
  • chill: to relax
  • buggin: another way of saying "are you crazy"
  • pop off: an emotional outburst
  • Bucktown: Brooklyn
  • cheddar: money
  • bird: to describe someone loud
  • my b: another way to say "my bad"
  • 718: area code for Brooklyn
  • mint: to describe something that is still in good condition
  • dope: to describe something very cool
  • sick: to describe something very good
  • fire: to describe something amazing
  • the Burg: Williamsburg
  • Manhatty: Manhattan
  • the Park: Central Park
  • Village: West Village
  • LES: Lower East Side
  • UWS: Upper West Side
  • FiDi: Financial District
  • SoHo: South of Houston Street