A guide to Bay Area slang

A guide to Bay Area slang

Click or swipe through the gallery above for a guide to Bay Area slang.

When outsiders think of classic California slang, it's the southern half of the state that tends to get all the credit. Surfer talk and valley girl dominate the California slang stereotypes, but that leaves out the slang our region has given the world.

In the Bay Area, things are a little more gritty. We're less about beaches and malls and more about the local hip hop scene, a place that has given the region many of its most famous slang terms.

Then, of course, there's hella.

The Bay Area's greatest gift to the slang world, hella first began appearing in the 1970s. According to linguists, the word's origins are murky, but they believe it popped up first in the black community in Oakland. Hella was the stuff of high school halls and sporting events for a while, but it wasn't until musicians brought it into the national lexicon that it started taking off.

One of the first to use hella in national interviews was James Hetfield of Metallica. The band formed in Southern California, but gained a national platform after moving to the East Bay in 1983 (the group lived for a while in a house in El Cerrito).

Hella went truly mainstream with the explosion of the hyphy movement in the 1990s. Local rappers E-40 and Mac Dre elevated hella from an occasional qualifier to a mainstay of the NorCal dialect. By 1993, linguists were classifying it as a distinctly Bay Area word. In 2002, it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

There are also contributions to the world's lexicon from the tech and social justice communities in the Bay Area. For example, the phrase "lean in" was contributed by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and the term "mansplaining" came from Bay Area author Rebecca Solnit.

For more Bay Area slang terms, click through the hella cool gallery up above.