15 American Expressions That Confuse Non-Americans: What do they mean?

There are lots of slang words and special terms that can confuse Non-Americans English speakers, even though they both speak English. Here are 15 words and phrases that often leave the Non-Americans scratching their heads.

1. When Americans say “bite me.”

When Americans say “bite me,” it’s a sarcastic or dismissive way of responding to someone’s criticism or annoyance. It’s meant to convey irritation or defiance in a casual and slightly humorous manner.

2. When someone is “grounded.”

When someone is “grounded,” it means they are restricted from certain activities or privileges as a punishment, typically by parents or guardians, often staying home or not allowed to go out.

3. The term “running errands.”

The term “running errands” means going out to complete small tasks or chores, like grocery shopping, picking up items, or handling other necessary activities.

4. When Americans say they’re going to “freshen up.”

When Americans say they’re going to “freshen up,” it means they are going to quickly groom themselves, such as washing their face, brushing their teeth, or applying perfume/cologne, to look presentable.

5. The term “corny.”

The term “corny” is used to describe something that is sentimental, cheesy, or old-fashioned in a way that seems insincere or unoriginal.

6. When Americans call someone a “tool.”

When Americans call someone a “tool,” it’s a slang term used to describe a person who is seen as being foolish, clueless, or easily manipulated by others. It implies that the person is not very intelligent or is acting in a way that is annoying or uncool.

7. What “tailgating” is.

When Americans say “tailgate,” they mean a social gathering in a parking lot before a sports game or event. People gather around vehicles, grill food, play games, and socialize before going inside.

8. When Americans say “period” after a sentence.

When Americans say “period” after a sentence, it’s a way of emphasizing that their statement is final and definitive, with no room for further discussion or argument.

9. When Americans say they have “finals.”

When Americans say they have “finals,” they are referring to the last exams or tests at the end of a school term or semester. These exams usually cover all the material learned during the term and can be important for grades.

10. When Americans say “I’m just sayin’.”

When Americans say, “I’m just sayin’,” it’s a way to soften a statement or opinion they’ve expressed. It implies they’re sharing their thoughts casually without intending to offend or create conflict.

11. When Americans say someone has been “drinking the Kool Aid.”

When Americans say someone has been “drinking the Kool-Aid,” they mean that the person has unquestioningly accepted or embraced a certain belief, ideology, or perspective, often without critical thinking or skepticism.

12. When Americans say “what’s the 411 on that.”

When Americans say, “what’s the 411 on that,” they are asking for the latest information or details about something. It’s a casual way of inquiring about news, updates, or specifics on a particular topic or situation.

13. When Americans use “football fields” as a form of measurement.

When Americans use “football fields” to measure, they’re using it as a way to describe a large distance or size that’s easy to imagine. It’s like saying something is as long as multiple football fields.

14. When Americans say they are from the “tri-state area.”

When Americans say they are from the “tri-state area,” they are referring to a region that encompasses parts of three states that are in close proximity to each other. This term is commonly used in areas where states border each other.

15. When Americans say “eat me.”

When Americans say “eat me,” it is typically used as a rude or offensive phrase, similar to “bite me.” It’s meant to dismissively express frustration, defiance, or annoyance toward someone.

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