“This is awesome,” Cameron thought to himself as he looked from his balcony at the sick ocean view in front of him.
Just one week ago he was living in a favella—in the ghetto—wondering if he would live until the end of the week. He couldn’t believe how bad ass he was feeling now, chillin’ at the top of his bitchin’ apartment in Rio de Janeiro.
“This view is the shit!” He still couldn’t believe his good luck. “Why had I gotten so lucky? What did I do to deserve this? Why am I able to look at this rad view, while some of my friends are just selling dope fighting for their survival?”
It all started with that killer photo Cameron had taken. He had gotten a phone call from a friend he hadn’t heard from in years…
“Is this information legit? Can I really trust her? If what she says is wrong, all the savings I have would be gone. But if what she says is right… this could be the most wicked thing that had ever happened to me.”
In the above story, you can see many different synonyms for the word “cool.”
Although all the italicized words above are synonyms for “cool,” they have slightly different meanings and contexts.
If speaking like a native is important to you, then you must learn these different ways to say “cool.”
The following is an excerpt from the ebook 101 Words You’ll Never Learn in School that you can receive for FREE when you sign up for the Real Life English newsletter.
The ebook also contains four more words for “cool” that are not mentioned in this article.
When to use it: When you’re extremely impressed with something.
Usage Notes: Used in formal and informal situations, very common.
Example: “I met this beautiful girl the other day.” “Awesome! Do you like her?”
When to use it: When something is pleasing to you.
Usage Notes: A little informal.
Example: “I did yoga for the first time yesterday.” “Sweet, good for you!”
When to use it: When referring to something excellent.
Usage Notes: Very informal. This may be a hint at Western culture—that the word killer is used in a good way.
Example: “Dude, that party last night was killer!”
When to use it: When you like something.
Usage Notes: Very informal. Dope can also mean drugs, but it is very commonly used by young people today to express happiness.
“I found $20 on the ground today.” “Dope, dude!
“I won a surfboard at the raffle.” “Are you serious?! That’s dope!”
When to use it: When something is calm and relaxing. Can also mean to meet up with someone.
Add-ons: Chill out, used to tell someone to calm down. Or I’m chill, meaning I don’t want what you’re offering.
Usage Notes: Very informal. Chill can also mean to cool something down.
“Hey man, you want to chill after I get off work?” “Yeah, I’ll bring over some beer.”
“Yeah I got a job at this local yoga studio.” “Chill, bro.”
“Why are you talking to my girlfriend?!” “Chill out dude, I don’t mean any harm.”
“Hey bro, you want some beer?” “Nah man, I’m chill.”
When to use it: To express enthusiasm.
Usage Notes: Very informal. The literal meanings of both sick and ill (illness) are negative, but the slang versions are positive.
“Did you see that guy do a backflip? That was sick!” “Yeah, it was totally ill!”
7. Bad ass
When to use it: When something displays the characteristics of a person with supreme confidence, extreme ability, and a disregard for authority.
Add-ons: Bad ass mother fucker (for emphasis).
Usage Notes: Very informal.
“I didn’t even study for the test, but I got 100%!” “Bad ass, dude!”
“Have you seen James bond? That dude’s a bad ass mother fucker.”
When to use it: When something is extremely cool.
Usage Notes: Very informal. Can also be used to mean whining or complaining, as in “stop bitchin’.”
“Check out that Ferrari! It’s bitchin’!”
“Why didn’t you take out the trash?! You never remember to take out the trash! Do you think the trash gets taken out all by itself?!”
“Man he never stops bitching…” “I heard that!”
9. The shit
When to use it: To describe something you really like.
Usage Notes: Very informal. “The shit” is a good thing, but just “shit” is a bad thing. It’s usually not used to describe a person.
“Dude, that movie was the shit!” “Yeah, it was awesome!
“Dude, that movie was shit!” “Yeah, I didn’t like it either.”
When to use it: Another word for cool.
Usage Notes: Very informal. Can also be used as an adverb to add emphasis to whatever it’s describing.
“I finally got my driver’s license.” “Wicked cool, now you can drive me around!”
“I passed my biology class. Wicked!
When to use it: When something is agreeable to you or when what you’re describing is real, not fake.
Usage Notes: Informal. Short for legitimate. A common phrase on the internet is “seems legit.” This is jokingly used when something is obviously fake or a lie.
“Yo, check out my Ray Bans (sun glasses).” “Nice, man. But it says ‘Made in China.’ Are you sure they’re legit…?”
“Damn I like this. This song’s legit!”
When to use it: Another word for cool.
Usage Notes: Informal. Short for radical, which is still used but less common.
“That shirt is rad, man.”
How dope is it that you’re learning all these bitchin’ words that natives use all the time? Using these sick phrases makes your English legit.
Start having an awesome time with English by learning wicked fun words you’ll never learn in school.
Sign up now for the Real Life English newsletter and download the free ebook 101 Words You’ll Never Learn in School and start sounding like a bad ass.
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This article was written and read by Trevor Pirtle, the project leader of Real Life English and the author of 101 English Words You’ll Never Learn in School. Trevor is from California, USA but lives in Belo Horizonte, Brazil where he teaches English and yoga for non-native English speakers.