Photo: Joshua Resnick/Shutterstock

17 Expressions You Need to Learn Before Coming to California

by Paige Smith Dec 22, 2016


As in, “This living room couch is janky as hell.” Janky means something is sub-par. You could use it to refer to anything from an old iPhone 4 to a terrible restaurant.

Synonyms: sucky, sketchy.


Butthurt is when you get upset over a small thing. Like, “She was so butthurt that you didn’t call her back.” Or, “Don’t be butthurt that I stole one of your fries. I’ll get you more.”

Synonyms: upset, pissed.


This is one word, not two. It’s used as an adjective to describe something that’s really good, and it’s usually used in regards to food. “That’s one dank-ass breakfast burrito.”

Synonyms: delicious, amazing, incredible.

What a bust

Basically, what a disappointment. Us Californians use “bust” to describe any situation or series of events that’s upsetting or sad. “The waves were a bust today.” Or, “You’re not coming to the party? That’s such a bust.” In certain areas of Southern California, you can even add a ‘y’ to the end to change it to an adjective. “You didn’t pass your law school exam? Sorry man, that’s a busty bust.”

Synonyms: bummer.


As in, “That pho was hella good.” Or, “Her hair is hella long.” Basically, hella is another adverb you can use to describe the intensity of something.

Synonyms: super, way, insanely.

I’m super stoked!

In other words, you’re very excited. The awesome thing about “stoked” is that you can use it to describe exciting events or occasions both big and small. “I’m super stoked about this new breakfast burrito place.” Or, “My sister just got engaged — I’m so stoked!”

Synonyms: pumped, jazzed, frothed, psyched.


Gnarly is one of the most versatile slang words you’ll ever hear. You can use it to describe anything that’s cool, amazing, intense, scary, or serious. “The waves were gnarly” could mean the waves were massive and challenging, but also exciting. “That test was gnarly” means the test was difficult. “That painting is gnarly” probably means it’s super cool, shocking, or interesting to look at.

Synonyms: killer, intense, epic.

Post up

As in, “I’m gonna post up over there by the bench while you try on shoes.” It’s a verb that means to hang out, wait, or kick back for a while.

Synonyms: stand around, wait.


As in, “We’re gonna cruise to the movies later. Wanna come?” It’s just a cooler way of saying you’re going somewhere.

Synonyms: head out, head over.


As in, “This party blows. I’m gonna bail.” It means to leave a situation or place.

Synonyms: peace out, leave.

Kick it

Kick it means to hang out or get together. “Let’s kick it tomorrow night. Are you free?”

Synonyms: relax, meet up, hang.


Californians use this to describe something that’s awesome, cool, or really excellent. “That fish taco was dope.” Or, “It’s so dope that you’re learning how to play guitar!”

Synonyms: cool, rad, sick, sweet, awesome, dank.


As in, “This club looks super sketchy. Let’s bail.” Sketchy means something is weird, off-putting, or even potentially dangerous. It also refers to behavior and people, not just places and situations. Another thing: You can also drop the ‘y’ and just say “sketch.” As in, “He was acting super sketch on our date, so I made up an excuse and left.”

Synonyms: strange, creepy, dangerous, bad.

On the fritz

As in, “This coffee maker is on the fritz.” It’s used to describe something that doesn’t work properly, is unstable, or is about to break. And it’s not just for material objects, either — you can use it to describe relationships, too. “My relationship with Jen is totally on the fritz right now. I don’t know if we’re gonna make it.”

Synonyms: broken, damaged, shaky, uncertain, unstable.


As in, “Congrats on the new apartment! That’s so baller.” Both ballin’ and baller are used to emphasize something impressive, whether it’s an achievement, an accolade, or a person. “She just launched that new app on her own. What a baller.”

Synonyms: impressive, cool, interesting, incredible.


Basically, a lot. “I’ve seen him surf a shit-ton of times and he always crushes it.” Or, “There’s a fuck-ton of flooding happening since El Niño hit last week.”

Synonyms: a lot, a whole bunch.


When something is bizarre, thought-provoking, or mind-blowing. “His artwork is super trippy to look at.” Or, “That movie about the aliens was so trippy, dude.”

Synonyms: crazy, strange, weird.

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