Dude, You are so Obama!

An article last month in the New York Times discussed American slang and how quickly it has been changing.  With the Internet, people are able to communicate instantaneously (immediately), sharing new expressions and words much faster than in the past.  As a result, teenage and adult slang (very informal language, often used by a particular group) now changes almost daily (everyday).  In fact, it changes so quickly that an expression which may be popular this week may not be popular next week.

One recent addition to American slang is to call someone “Obama” to mean that they are really, really cool (hip, popular).  So to say, “Dude, you are so Obama!” means “Friend, you are very cool!”  This usage may change depending on the president’s popularity, however – so be careful!

Here in Los Angeles, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has started a slang dictionary to try to keep track of (make a record of) the latest slang words and phrases.  Linguistics professors published UCLA Slang 6 a few months ago; the dictionary costs $10.95.  (To see a much older version from back in 1993, but one that still has many popular terms used today, look here.)  Since Los Angeles is the capital of popular entertainment in the US, a lot of slang begins here in LA and moves to other parts of the country, although the Internet may change that pattern in the future.

Here are a few other new terms the kids (young people, including young adults) are using nowadays, according to the folks (informal for people) at UCLA:

  • Schwa! – Wow!  Amazing! (“schwa” is actually what we call an unstressed vowel in English)
  • to destroy a test – to do very well on the test (opposite of what you might think!)
  • Epic fail! – What a mistake!
  • mija – my female friend (this comes from the Spanish “mi hija” (my daughter); Spanish is of course often heard here in Los Angeles)
  • sisters from another mister and brothers from another mother – friends that are so close that they are like sisters or brothers

I have to say that, before reading this article, I had never heard of any of these expressions.  Then again, these are slang terms popular among college students, not 40-something adults like me (40-something is someone in their 40s; also possible are twenty-something, thirty-something, etc.).


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29 Responses to Dude, You are so Obama!

  1. Julio says:

    What a terrible topic! Apart from all my homework, I am going to have to study many slang words as well. In my case, I usually have no idea when listening someone in American English, so that if I have in addition to worry about such new terms I am going to become a fool!
    Anyway, Thank you, Dr. Jeff, for letting us know about it.
    Best regards from Spain,
    Julio (Jack).

  2. Kaochan says:

    Interesting! For 40-something like me in Japan, many abbreviated words from online games are beyond my understandings.
    Last week, I finally understood what PWN is!

  3. Fabio Dantas says:

    MIJA is a informal verb in Brazilian Portuguese that means to urinate in the imperative form. hehe

  4. Peter says:

    Good stuff Jeff,

    I had heard of Obama’s thing,but no inkling about the rest .You are right it is not easy to keep up with the flow of slangs entering and vanishing. Good thing is ,to maintain a healthy communication, one does not need to know all the fancy slangs.Though ,there are Some expressions who are deeply rooted in the culture and creed of a nation. They never get tarnished .They are always there and are passed on from one generation to another.I believe we should heed those.

  5. elcomandant says:

    What a mess!.

    I think that this is a shame, because it doesn’t give nothing to language, on the contrary, it destroy it.

    However, on second thought, I’m wondering, why?.

    English language isn’t a dead language, but it is alive. What wrong there is in adding new expresions?. I think this gives cool to English language.

    In other words, and this is a question to Jeff, could I say that to speak with these slangs is “Obama” (fashionable)?.

    If English language changes so quickly, I never will finish to learn it.

    P.S. It happens the same with Spanish language.

    See you.

  6. emiliano says:

    Well, I would like to be like him more than to Mr. Zapatero who I dislike so much. But what is so amazing is that English has these new and fast
    slangs. We, students, have enough knowing the usual words that we need to read or to be understood if we travel ouside our own countries.
    Some times I have listened to say “mi hijita” to south american spanish speakers, but here in Spain we don´t use that expression that as a matter
    of fact I like it.

    Thank you Jeff, is a good matter to talk about.
    From Spain, Madrid, the hottest city of the world, emiliano

  7. emiliano says:

    This summer is killing me, killing all spaniards that have to support more than 40 º C, along days and days without a rest.
    May be the planet is going hotter?, I don´t know but it seems so, at least here in my country.

  8. Peter says:

    My friend Unlike you , Here ,I am experiencing a spring-like-temperature, not so shabby,hah . ( joking)

    Don’t worry man .All the joke will be on me in winter time.

  9. Peter says:

    Here is the society outcast again(LoL)


    How about the word wino or bag lady . Bag lady is pretty old ,but I never heard of wino up until 2005-20006.

    You know what, these make shift/improvised words are not peculiar to English language. Every single official or unofficial language carries such an attribute.

    You see what I mean. I believe the most important part of every language is sentencing structures . Sentence structures are the essence. When you learn the essence, you own the language.You can easily make do.

    Then as you go along ( improve along), you will learn highfalutin Jorgan to spice it up.
    But ,it is just me.

  10. Peter says:

    Oh ,another term just hit me( no pun intended )

    Showboating is a pretty good one. No showboating ,but, right now ,I can think of tons of just-recently entered words in this challenging language.

  11. Peter says:

    Guys ,

    Going commando is another one . There Is highly likely that Eslpod never discusses the term. The term is used among the youth, for the most part.

    Going commando means wearing ur regular clothes to where ever you r going with no under wear on. The term is unisex.
    Believe you me, the term is ridiculously common. I mean ,it does not count as vulgar.

  12. Daniele says:

    When I am reading something on line, you know, maybe a forum or a comment to an article, and I find a slang word that I do not know,I help myself with the

  13. Christina Niven says:

    I think Obama is cool, but I’ve also heard him called a skinny “geek”. I’m fifty-something, so I think geeks are cool. Guys that are smart and hard-working are always in style. Thanks for the mini cram course on new slang words, Jeff. It’s very helpful to ESL teachers like me who don’t always keep up with such things.

  14. Peter says:

    Dear Christina ,

    I believe the term geek is a bit too strong.soundsl like name calling.the term geek typically refers to a person who studies ,who reads a lot you know what I would use ,would be the term bookworm.

    I don’t really beleive in the social awkward part of definition of the geek

    I happen to have a friend who is a real bookwarm( geek,if you will). he has a broad common knowledge ,and at the same time he is a very pleasent person,awfully sociable.

    my guess is bookworm is fairly meet the pur[pous

  15. Peter says:

    what ,I would use

  16. Peter says:

    Hi peers ,

    Last night was my friend’s birthday .We went all night ( thank to Lucy). the birth day boy(my friend) was supposed to fix me up with a girl with British heritage ( thank to Jeff) .The thing is, she was a no-show. As a gift,I got him a deck of tarot cards,or a tarot card deck cause he is into spiritual,divine stuff.

    what I m trying to point out here is that Last night on my route/way back home, I was thinking that it might be cool for us to know that the deck of cards with all weird looking images on them used for bogus foretelling and bleak prophecy is called Tarot.

    Of course ,it is just a reminder.

  17. Peter says:

    No offence, but,I don’t believe in this fortune telling scam ,although truth is truth til the end of reckoning.

    Fair well chaps,

  18. rodrigo arellano says:

    In Venezuela a spaniard professor from high school issued many years ago a diccionary ago based on the expresions and words used by his pupils which are very common among young people and have become incorporated to the spanish we speak here, the diccionary name is “El Carreno de los panas”, even for venezuelans many of the words used currently are unknown, in fact the word “PANA” means “friend” and comes from the english word “PARTNER”. We have many new words incorporated to spanish….

  19. sergio berber says:

    mija, is the term used to discribe in an informal way to girls in the north of Mexico, p.ej (ven pa ca mija, mija ayudame a lavar, recoje los platos mija, etc), but is actually said from parents to daugther. is also used in boys but the correct form is MIJO. when you see old mexican movies, like movies where a famous actor Pedro Infante appers, is often used and said.

  20. Bakhtyar says:

    Thank you for being bend over backwrads for as every time you are really great, keep going, nowadays i am preparing myself for applying to Chevening Scholarship, any tips my friends.

  21. Tania Misaras says:

    Hi ! I have some troubles and I cannot contact you .
    I miss you very much .

    All the best for you all ,


  22. emiliano says:

    Tania, a pleasure to see you here again, I was missing you and I hope the troubles are gone already.

    The hot is going off at the end, we can sleep again.
    What about your country, same hot?


  23. Peter says:

    Speaking of slangs and expressions, tomorrow is the day of reckoning for me. I must stand trial to dispute a speed violation. Apparently,I was going 50 kilometres beyond the speed limit. No room for postponeding it again.It does not matter how many times you evade it,at the end of the ay you are the one who is cashed out.

  24. Peter says:


    You don’t know how good you have it . Ready to trade places with you anytime. I am going to Paris for one week to soak up some rays before Canad’s notorious winter makes land here again, part of my winter ritual preparation. I dare you to come down here for just two months from early January to late February.Just do it ,and I promise nobody will hear you complain the hot weather. I bet my bottom dollar on that.

    To circumvent winter this time around ,I am planning to hibernate. I am dead serious.

    I am leaving for Paris this coming Monday , Or my flight out to paris is this coming Monday.I don’t know about you guys , but rumour has it that Eslpod team started to rejoice already.

  25. Peter says:

    the hot weather again

  26. Peter says:

    Probably ,This winter, I will run into the polar bear family I walked passed by last winter. I will let you know the second I bumped into them if we are lucky enough to have this one of a kind blog up and running until then.

    if we contribute to the whole thing financially , we can cross our fingers that the luxury( having Jeff and Lucy as our profs) will outlast all of us.



  27. Peter says:

    last winter ,again

  28. Peter says:

    Walk passed by

  29. emiliano says:

    Peter, I have been only once in Paris and a thing I can remeber clearly was “What have I was doing till now without coming to this city so many years, having it so close to Madrid”….Really I was impressed with the beauty of Paris.
    Congratulations, you are going to the Light City that I like so much.

    Sure, If I was there in Canada it is possible I don´t say nothing more about the hot, I do hate the cold even much more….but humans are always complaining about the weather that´s the fact of being so nude, without any body protection as other animals.

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