U.S. Idioms and Slang

As is true for all languages, everyday English in the United States includes many slang terms and idioms (expressions that have meanings different from the literal meanings of the words they include). These terms and expressions may be encountered in the medical setting and in interactions with people in any setting. The websites below can provide some assistance in better understanding these terms. For information on specific slang terms and jargon used in the medical setting, please visit the “Medicalese” Glossary.

A note of caution: Appropriately using slang terms and idioms can be challenging, and when such terms are used inappropriately it can lead to miscommunication. It is also important to note that some slang terms, even when used correctly, are offensive. The best way to learn and master these terms is in conversation with peers or with people outside the medical setting. Also, please note that many of these sites have advertisements for products, books, and services; none of these are endorsed by ECFMG.

In the Loop

A useful reference guide to American English idioms and their meanings published by the Office of English Language Programs, Bureau of Cultural and Educational Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

English Daily–Slang

This site has a good, though not exhaustive, list of common slang terms and a good list of idioms. Both lists are very accessible and easy to use. They not only define the terms but give examples of usage.

Commonly Used American Slang

This site contains many more slang terms than idioms. It is one of the easiest sites to navigate, and it is designed to show terms but withhold the definitions until the user clicks on a button. This allows users to practice or self test their knowledge of slang. Terms can conveniently be studied in sets of 10, selected randomly by the program.

Back to top