CISL students living in San Diego or San Francisco learn many English words, but they also learn something not typically found in textbooks: how to speak “Californian!” As a Californian might (jokingly) say, “It’s, like, totally awesome!”

California has its own special dialect and many of its own words. Thanks to Hollywood, some California slang makes its way into the language of all Americans, but many of these words are typically spoken only by natives of the Golden State.

For each of these five words, we have included the real definition (if there is a real definition) and then the slang definition and an example. Have you used any of these “awesome” slang words?

1. Bail

Real definition (verb): Release or secure the release of (a prisoner) on payment of bail: “get bailed out of jail”.

Slang (verb): to leave a place.

Example: This party is boring. Lets bail.

2. Bum

Real definition (noun): a homeless person

Slang (verb): to borrow/take something

Example: Can I bum five dollars from you?

3. Clutch 

Real definition (verb): Grasp or seize (something) tightly or eagerly.

Slang definition (adjective): to help a situation

Example: I forgot my sunglasses when I was at Mission Beach, but my roommate had two pairs so I borrowed hers. That was clutch.

Example: Thanks for picking me up after my tire got a flat. So clutch that you answered your phone!

4. Heavy 

Real definition (adjective): Of great weight; difficult to lift or move.

Slang definition (adjective): Serious.

Example: “My roommate’s dog died.”

“Man, that’s heavy.”

Example: This news report is so heavy. Lets turn it off and go to Coronado instead. 

5. Post up

Real definition: there isn’t one! There are many definitions for the word “post” in English, but there is not the phrasal verb “post up.”

Slang definition (phrasal verb): to wait, stay.

Example: I am just going to post up on here Mission Beach while my roommate surfs.

Example: You guys post up here while I buy us some fish tacos.