To my English learners out there: Have you ever been in a situation — maybe been watching a movie — and the experience just feels like you are in another dimension, another world, and you’ve essentially left planet Earth? Well, today’s terms are great for these “otherworldly” experiences. I’m going to discuss some informal terms that use the word “trip” as well as similar terms like “freak” and “flip.” At the end I’ll talk about the word “shorty.” We’ll observe these words with the help of our old friend, Charles. If you find this information helpful, share it with someone you know is learning English. Cool? Let’s do it!
Today’s terms: trip, trippy / trip out, freak out, flip out / tripping, slipping / shorty, shawty
1. Trip – Trippy
So we know what a trip is. Taking a drive down the coast, going camping in the mountains, a vacation to Disneyland. But trip also has a more figurative meaning. You can call a situation or an event “a trip” when it is really crazy, spectacular, or unexpected. Sometimes when someone is being really funny or silly, you can call that person “a trip” too. Trippy has almost the same meaning but is an adjective. It describes situations that are very strange, crazy, and almost supernatural. You might see a ghost and say, “Wow, that was trippy.” On the other hand, “trip” can be used as a verb to talk about someone who is acting badly or in a stupid way. In this case don’t trip is also a common way to tell someone “don’t worry.”
Charles was in the recording studio with his friend, Sheila, as she was finishing recording a song. He was bouncing his head and enjoying every second of the lively music with the swirling sound of the musical track. The producer noticed that Charles was enjoying the beat he had made.
Charles — Man, this song is just wild how it fills up your brain and every part of your body just wants to dance!
Producer — I know, the sound is trippy, right? It’s one of my favorite tracks.
- The sound is really cool, crazy, and almost supernatural.
Charles — Well, your beats are always a trip. That’s why I love to come here and listen to you guys record live. Sorry if I’m intruding, by the way.
- The beats are always fun, enjoyable, interesting, and kind of strange at the same time.
Producer — Don’t trip, bro. You can come anytime you want.
2. Trip out – Freak out – Flip out
Now remembering the words from above, these next terms carry a similar meaning. If “trip” can sometimes mean “to worry,” then to trip out means to worry a lot, but in a way that you are almost paranoid. This term is common for referring to people who get paranoid on drugs and act in a very strange way. They trip out. Trip has been used to talk about the experience of getting high on drugs, so this relationship makes sense. Still, you can trip out even when you’re not on drugs. Same for freak out or flip out, these terms mean to overreact to a situation, or react to something in a very dramatic or exaggerated way. Freaking out or flipping out can come in many forms, like getting mad, being really paranoid, or being super scared or anxious. Some people also just say freak or flip, but the same meaning is implied when used as a verb.
The producer looked over at Charles and saw that he was almost falling into a weird dream state.
Producer — Psst! Dude, are you okay? You look like you’re tripping out.
- He looks like he is dreaming, like he is on drugs, like his body is being taken over by something.
Charles popped his eyes open and stood up quickly.
Charles — What? Oh, man, I thought I was dreaming. The music together with Sheila’s voice is putting me in a trance, I think. Feels like her voice is coming to attack me or something, to control my mind.
Producer — Okay, well that’s a bit much. Maybe you wanna step outside and take a breath before you start flipping out.
- Before you start acting crazy, acting paranoid, or have some kind of loud and weird reaction.
Charles — No, no, I can handle it. Sorry, I didn’t know I would freak like this.
- I didn’t know I would have this weird reaction, act strangely this way, act paranoid like this. He could also say “freak out” here with the same meaning.
Producer — It’s all good. She’s almost done recording, anyway.
3. Tripping – Slipping
Going back to the meaning of trip as “worrying,” we see that tripping is when someone is acting strange or worrying too much about something. Tripping can also mean to act in a way that other people don’t like. Slipping is a similar idea, but it’s used to say that someone is not doing something well. Usually, it’s a situation where the person was really good at something before but has been doing worse in more recent times.
Sheila finally finished singing and came out of the recording booth. She didn’t look very happy.
Sheila — Dang, that sucked. I can’t believe my voice sounds like that.
Producer — What are you talking about?! You sang great! You had your friend Charles over here looking like he was going to grow wings and fly away.
Sheila — Aw, is that true? I thought I was slipping.
- I thought my singing was getting worse, my voice isn’t as good as usual.
Charles — Yeah, I was about to catch a rocket ship and fly to Mars while you were singing. Haha.
Producer — Your voice is as good as ever, girl, strop tripping.
- Stop worrying, stop acting insecure like that.
Sheila — Thanks you guys. I do sound pretty great, don’t I?
4. Shorty – Shawty
These final words are actually the same word. They both are used to refer to a woman in general, and they are often used as terms of endearment (loving terms). For example, some men call their girlfriends shorty, or even a woman they are attracted to. This term is more common for young women, and even girls can be called “shorty.” I have an Aunt Shorty (not her birth name), to give you an idea. Shorty in the past wasn’t always for just women either. It used to be a nickname for men too, especially short men. More recently because of music, in the States calling someone “shorty” gives a sense of care or femininity, at least. Shawty is just a more informal way of pronouncing the same word.
Producer — Yeah, Sheila, you’re my star singer here. Of all the shawties that come here to record, you’re the best.
- Of all the young ladies that come here.
Sheila took a bow and went to the restroom to clean the sweat off her nervous forehead.
Charles — What do you think? Is she taken?
Producer — Huh? What do you mean? You have a crush on Sheila?! Ooh, I’m telling!
They laugh together.
Charles — Nah, shut up bro! I’m serious. I might try to make her my shorty.
- Make her my girlfriend or go out with her. It sounds less serious and more casual, even though he means something serious.
Producer — As far as I know, she’s never had a man come in here and watch her like you do. Try asking her.
Charles nodded at the producer as he noticed Sheila coming out of the bathroom.
Sheila — Ready to go?
Basically, tripping and words like it (freak, flip) are related to strange and undesirable behavior. Sometimes it can be worrying, paranoia, or someone just asking too many questions. Slipping has to do with not being as good at something as before, or even being lazy at something. Some other terms I want to add real quick are slip up or trip up which both mean to “make a mistake.” Think of it as falling over your own feet or slipping on a banana peel. Those both are good phrasal verbs to add to your vocabulary. Another note about “shorty” is that sometimes men refer to a woman as a “shorty” when they don’t want to sound like they are super interested or in love with her. It’s kind of to look more manly or look tough, we can say to “downplay” their attraction for that woman. Of course, you don’t have to use these words, but you might enjoy understanding them in natural contexts, especially in current music.
Okay! What do you think? Was this helpful? Let me know if you know how to use these words, or write me a few example sentences if you have time. Comment if you’ve heard these words before! And don’t forget to follow the blog and read other posts, you might find something you’ll like. Until the next time, take care y’all!