The Regional Particulars: Atlanta Slang

 In Cultural Immersion

There’s a lot of slang usage in American spoken English, and much of it is regional, meaning that it is particular to a given state or town.  Atlanta slang – like other regions, cities or even neighborhoods, can tell you a lot about the social identity of the people.  The most common slang Atlanta natives use are versions of “hello”.  This is because, as the students have noted, “local people are friendly and kind.”

Slang, Atlanta-Style

atlanta slang

Local Expressions TALK Students Say You’ll Hear in Atlanta

“Hey” is a commonly used casual substitute for “hello”.  It can be followed by…

“Y’all” – short for “you all”, even when you’re standing there all by yourself.  Or…

“Darlin’” as in “Darling”, if it’s the person’s habit to say this, or if they’re feeling especially warm toward you.

“Hi Due” is, to my thinking, an extremely contracted version of “how do you do?”, previously shortened to “howdy do?”

“What’s up?” is a question form of “hello”, how are you doing?”, or “hello, what do you need?/what can I help you with?”

“What’s going on?”  This means What’s up AND also “hello” – all meant to spark a friendly conversation.

“It’s raining cats and dogs”  When there’s a heavy rainfall people are likely to comment that, “it’s raining cats and dogs”.  This a phrase common to many parts of the US.  There are a few ideas regarding the etymology of this phrase.  The one that seems most likely is kind of depressing—Jonathan Swift wrote a poem in 1710 called, “City Shower” that described animals left dead in the streets after flooding caused by heavy rains.  Later, the memorable imagery of the poem was picked up and used conversationally.

atlanta slang“Buggies” are shopping carts.

“OTP” is shorthand for “outside the perimeter”, the perimeter being the Interstate 285 that circles the city of Atlanta.


“ITP” is shorthand for “inside the perimeter”.  People in Atlanta are pretty particular when it comes to identifying as an “OTPer” or an “ITPer” just as some New Yorkers “won’t go above 14th street” or people in Los Angeles have opinions about “the valley”.  I’m sure wherever you live there are parallel attitudes about neighborhoods or areas.

These are just a few of the slang words and phrases that you’ll encounter when you study English at TALK School in Atlanta.  Knowing the local slang not only helps you understand what someone is actually saying, but it keeps you current with pop culture, and give you confidence in your ability to communicate with your peers in English.



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