The Word On The Street: You've Heard 'Em But Never Understood 'Em

Never seem like an illiterate idiot ever again.
The Word On The Street: You've Heard 'Em But Never Understood 'Em

Having really smart friends can be a pain sometimes.When it's exams or essay-season, they're a great help. When you're talking with them at a party, less so.

We've all been there. Your well-read or science-y friend busts out some 3 syllable word and you just nod along, smiling like an asshole, with no clue what they just said. Super trendy/pop-culturally educated friends do the same, spouting out the latest slang you've never heard of.

I'm not talking words you use and think you know the meaning of (those articles are everywhere lately), I'm talking about those words you straight up have no clue what the hell they mean. Luckily, I've done the dictionary work for you. Read on for words you hear all of the time, but have no clue what they mean, until now.

Click here to expand your vocab >


Short form of bourgeoisie, bougey is a slang word I heard and had no idea what da fuck the person was saying. The legit definition makes it a term to describe anyone/anything trying to be fancier than they're social standing normally allows. Street use is much the same, using it as a word to describe anything that's too classy/swanky/bougey for your ghetto self. Think drinking martinis at the Hyatt when your usually downing 10.1%'s in your friend's basement.


You'll usually hear this one after you've made a very inappropriate joke about a serious issue and your smart. politically correct friend will not laugh, cross their arms, and shake their head as they tell you "to not be so facetious." Facetious officially means being flippant, and to further simplify it, your smart friend is basically saying "dude, not cool to joke about that."

Flame War

Forum folks will know this one. Basically any Youtube comment thread in existence, a 'Flame War' is a heated (pun!) debate between two people on a certain topic. Flame War is generally reserved for online arguments, but its not unheard of to use it in regular conversation, as long as the two (or more) people involved are being as ridiculous as internet haters. Check out this hilarious video for a dramatic reenactment of a flame war from a One Direction music video.


When something looks clean cut and all fancy-like, people usually throw 'pristine' as a descriptor. You followed along, thinking it just means something to do with cleanliness. Once more, not the case. Pristine's true definition is 'the same as the original/untouched,' so when you hear Indiana Jones talk about 'pristine artifacts' he's just saying their ancient and not contaminated, rather than being clean or pretty.


People pretty much use 'heathen' as a title for anyone who is a little wicked, devious, somewhat anti-religion, or even pagan. A strong negative feeling is attached to the word, which is technically incorrect. "Heathan' is really just a title for anyone who doesn't belong to a widely accepted religion, like Judaism or Islam. So you could call an atheist a heathan, but it doesn't really function as an insult. Better to use something a tab bit more offensive if you really wanna rip on someone anyway.

Beast Mode

You'll see this one on twitter a lot these days (#beastmode) and if you weren't an avid cartoon watcher in the 90's, you probably have no clue what it's in reference to. Beast mode is originally from Beast Wars, an offshoot of the Transformers franchise where the good guys would shout "Beast mode!" anytime they had to revert to their animal form (these guys rocked living creatures instead of cars.) Nowadays people use Beast mode anytime someone levels up in badass-ness, fitness, or shit gets real. Perfect usage, but its best to know what the hell your referencing lest someone say "omg I loved that show as a kid!" and you just have to awkwardly agree and hope the conversation ends there.


Here's one picked up from Family Guy of all places, and Peter goes through a similiar scene of not knowing what the hell esoteric means (episode with the street parade float contest), only to decide its a word used to describe food . It isn't. Esoteric is a word used to refer to anything that only a small group of people will understand, those with a shared specialized interest. Feel free to use esoteric anytime someone drops a Game of Thrones reference. You'll sound smart and geeky at the same time, which is a win-win in my books.


Thank God I checked the actual definition of bemused, because I have legit been using it wrong forever. You'd think it means mildly amused, since that's how I've always heard it used, but 'bemused' actually means to be scared/bewildered. Never say you were bemused by a comedy show ever again. Someone who actually knows what the word means will call you out and make you look like a tool. Alternatively, you can now do that to anyone too.


Star Wars fans will know this one, everyone else is probably in the dark. Know how all the Jedis move shit with their minds and shoot lighting out of their hands? Well its not because of some magical spellcasting action, it's actually because they have these tiny microscopic organisms in their blood called midi-chlorian allowing Jedis/Sith to tap into the force. If you're thinking that's almost more ridiculous than just a simple 'its magic' explanation, you're right. At least now you can gain some nerd cred anytime someone busts out this Star Wars obscurity.

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