Hoosier. Pissa. Sourdough. Hoss. You can find slang anywhere you look in America and college campuses are no exception to this rule. College students create short forms for anything and everything, taking a serious word and putting it into a funny context.
While it may seem contradictory that slang would even crop up in academic institutions such as colleges or universities, it shows a live example of the mix of high and low culture on a day-to-day basis.
If you go to the University of Oklahoma, your college professors may be teaching you about natural disasters; yet, you’ll most likely learn about a quakenado from friends. (Luckily there are no sharks in this one!)
College slang is typically viewed as a negative, “trashy” version of high culture. Nothing brings college students together better than being miserable together, slogging it through an all-nighter. At the same time, looking forward to something other than school will most likely bring you more joy than any 4.0 GPA would.
Unless that is, you’re planning to go to law or med school — then saddle up and study away. At the end of the day, college slang reminds you that you are not alone during your undergrad — millions of other college students across the country are going through the exact same experience as you are.
To celebrate the class of 2018’s impending graduation, here are 18 college slang expressions from across the country.
1. “Bard Borrowing” from Liam Ainslie Mayo, Bard College
Forgot your bike in your dorm room? No problem; just try bard borrowing. Originating from Bard College in New York, the term means to take something without necessarily meaning to steal it, but without necessarily meaning to return it either.
Though you’ll want to bard borrow at your own risk, you may have just struck a balance between being a borrower or lender — dicey positions indeed.
2. “Cocks” from Andrew Crossan, University of South Carolina
Context is king (or queen). Without the right context here, many readers would be led to think a whole slew of things far from its intended meaning.
The college slang refers to the University of South Carolina’s college football team, the South Carolina Gamecocks. While nobody questions the chanting of [game]cocks in the stadium, others would most definitely be taken aback by someone’s use of it.
3. “Full Send” from Kayla Lichtman, Middlebury College
Although the term is used among skiers and snowboarders frequently, college students use the term to mean committing to something 100 percent or giving it your all.
Whether you’re deciding to go steady with someone or building out that time machine you promised your wacky scientist of an uncle, you can use this expression for any commitment you’ve set your heart and mind on.
4. “Club Jackson” from Cason Ragland, UNC Greensboro
At UNC Greensboro, if you’re looking for a banging good time studying for your quantum physics exam, look no further than Club Jackson, aka Jackson library.
When you spend all day nursing a hangover or doing just about anything else you can to avoid those rigid numbers, you’re likely to be found partying at Club Jackson the day before an exam.
5. “Brick” from Gillian Farnan, SUNY Cortland
Students at SUNY Cortland and others in the northern states will be familiar enough with the blistering cold weather, which is the meaning of this college slang.
Up there, the cold hits your face so hard, you’d think you were hit by a brick. Maybe it’s time to upgrade your hats and scarves to a hockey mask or hard hat.
6. “Lower 48” from Hollis Reddington, University of Alaska Anchorage
Don’t worry, there are still life forms out in Alaska. They even have a smile on their faces during summer solstice when they get 20 hours of daylight. Oh, bless their hearts.
7. “Tilted” from Jade Hookham, UC San Diego
Tilted is a more intense version of the word shook. College students use it as another way to express how in trouble you are for an upcoming assignment or test. You’ll be right-side up in no time as soon as you get through this week.
8. “Chirp, Chirp” from Audrey Bowers, Ball State University
This is the menacing, yet jovial cheer of the Ball State Cardinals that brings Ball State students together to watch a good old-fashioned game of football.
Warning: This chant has the power to wake even the cardinals up in the morning before they wake you up with their song; be wary of that and proceed with caution.
9. “Chomp Your Flavor” from Kerrianna Wallace, Arcadia University
Sometimes, you can’t wait for someone to ask for your opinion on something, or “What’s your flava” like in the Flava Fashion dolls commercials of 2003. But if you waited, you can be like college students who use this expression when someone says what you were going to say.
10. “Wicked” from Michaela Sickles, Suffolk University
No, this infamous Bostonian slang doesn’t come from the Broadway musical “Wicked”; instead, it comes from the 1961 classic hit “West Side Story.” Whether you’re using it to describe the weather or a person, keep calm and wicked on.
11. “Lannex o’clock” from Rakshya Devkota, Saint Louis University
In reference to the Library Annex club, Saint Louis University students use this expression when they know they need some down time from all that studying. It may be called a “library,” but not much reading and even less studying will be done during that time.
12. “Howdy” from Sarah Hoenig, Texas A&M University
You don’t need to watch an old Western flick to hear this college slang. This is a common greeting among Texas A&M college students, usually followed by y’all or hoss — another word for partner, as in friend.
13. “Bird” from Abraham Ramirez, UCLA
UCLA has electric “bird” scooters on campus available to rent and ride to class. Naturally, the expression is now shamelessly incorporated in students’ vernacular to mean anything from a mode of transportation to mustering the courage to do something.
14. “Litty Titty” from Sarah Lynch, Marist College
It’s a good thing slang is not meant to be taken literally — otherwise this expression would only shock and awe in the worst of ways. Another term used by Bostonians, college students use this phrase instead to express excitement.
15. “Michigan Time” from Shashank Rao, University of Michigan
Used by college students at the University of Michigan, it refers to the start time for classes at the university.
Classes at UM Ann Arbor start 10 minutes after they’re supposed to so that people have enough time to move between buildings. In Michigan Time, a class that is scheduled to start for 11:30 a.m. will start at 11:40 a.m. When you’re late to class, you must be on Michigan Time.
16. Hella from Vanessa Le, Chabot College
Introduced to the world by San Franciscans in the Hunters Point neighborhood, this college slang is to Californians what “wicked” is to Bostonians. It’s so popular there that Californians from Oakland have opened a restaurant called Hella Vegan Eats.
17. Jawn from Brittany Sims, Temple University
An expression originating from Philadelphia, jawn can be a person, place or thing. Challenge of the day: Try forming a whole sentence using only the word jawn.
18. Calm from Elise Bortz, New York University
Basically interchangeable with cool or chill, students at NYU use calm to refer to something they approve of, but often something that you don’t want to appear to geek out about, so often something very cool.