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Mastering Florida Slang: From Iguanas to Cuban Coffee

Knowing some common slang words from the Florida idioms list below will help you sound more like a native speaker when you are out shopping, dining or just socializing.

You’ll find making friends easier while taking English classes in Boca Raton if you can include words from this list of Florida slang in your conversations.

Mastering Florida Slang


You may encounter some interesting animals when you are in florida. These are some of the most famous locally. These Florida idioms are often used to talk about them, rather than their more formal name:

Chicken of the trees:

What is a “chicken of the trees”? On your way to your English classes you might encounter a large, greenish lizard sunning itself. This is the iguana, which although fearsome looking, will avoid human contact by running away. It’s an invasive species, so state law allows it to be hunted. At night, it often hangs out in the trees. Those who have tasted its meat say it tastes like chicken, so it’s sometimes called “chicken of the trees.”

Sea cow:

What is a “sea cow”? This is slang for the manatee, due to its relaxed demeanor, bovine appearance and ocean habitat. When enjoying water activities while you may be lucky enough to see them. They are a highly protected species, so just enjoy looking without touching them.


This is of course, short for alligator. It can also mean a student or alumni of the University of Florida. The famous sports drink “Gatorade” is named for this school, where it was developed.

Skunk ape:

This is Florida’s version of Bigfoot, or Sasquatch. It’s named for its simian appearance and accompanying strong odor. Although you are not likely to see one of these cryptids, if you do, make sure to take a few photos with your phone. It might make you famous! You might even try striking up a conversation with it, but being a Florida native, you will need to know some of the Florida slang you are reading here.

No see ums:

These are small insects, sometimes called gnats, that are so small they can’t be seen, but can be felt. They can be annoying but not as much as mosquitos.


This is Floridal slang for “mosquito”. It’s also humorously called “Florida’s state bird” due to its numbers during the summer months. It’s a good idea to keep some skeeter repellent handy when enjoying outdoor activities during the summer.

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Amazing Food:

South Florida is home to many immigrants and visitors from Spanish speaking countries. In particular, Cuban culture has made many contributions of uniquely delicious food. Learning some words from this list of Florida slang will help you get your order right. Try to sample some of these:

Cuban coffee:

Newcomers to Florida often ask “what are the types of Cuban coffee?” Enjoying the famous Cuban coffee is a great way to stay at your most alert during your English classes in Boca Raton. Cuban coffee is a unique kind of very strong espresso. It’s the ultimate brain fuel. It can be ordered in four ways:

  • Cafecito: A small, single shot of Cuban coffee. It is usually covered in a layer of foam made from beating sugar and the first drops of coffee from the coffee maker.
  • Colada: A 2 to 4 ounce cup of sweetened Cuban coffee. You are given several small plastic shot cups so it can be shared among several people. Sharing a colada during a work or study break is a typical social activity in South Florida.
  • Cortadito: Half milk and half Cuban coffee, but the sugar is already added.
  • Café con leche: This is mostly hot milk, with one or two shots of Cuban coffee added. You can order it claro (light), oscuro (dark), or mediano (medium), depending on how much coffee you want added.


While “tostada” simply means “toasted” in Spanish, when used as a noun, it means toasted Cuban bread. Cuban bread is similar in shape to a French baguette, but with a lighter texture. It is prepared by slicing the bread lengthwise, spreading butter or margarine on the halves, and toasting it in a sandwich press. A tostada is often eaten with Cuban coffee.


This means “little pastry” in Spanish and is another Cuban treat often enjoyed with Cuban coffee. Flaky pastry is filled with sweet things like guava, or cream cheese or both. There are also savory versions with ham and cheese. Enjoy these as part of your breakfast.


You will have many options for great dining out. The area is home to many people from all over the Spanish-speaking world, so there are many regional cuisines to be enjoyed. People will ask “what are the two kinds of Tortilla”? because the word has two distinct meanings.

The tortilla of Mexican and neighboring cuisines is a flat cake made of corn or wheat flour, and used in various dishes such as burritos, soft tacos and enchiladas. The tortilla of Cuban and continental Spanish cuisine is quite different, being like a thick omelet or quiche. Potatoes, onions and ham are often blended with the eggs before baking.


This is a very sweet dessert made of eggs, sweetened condensed milk, sugar, and various flavorings, such as vanilla, coconut, or orange. It is baked and often served with caramel sauce.

Tres leches:

Another sweet dessert, the name comes from the three kinds of milk used to make it. Sponge cake is soaked in evaporated milk, condensed milk, and whole milk. This is a favorite at many bakeries.

What are some Spanish words used as Florida slang?

Several Spanish words have become Florida idioms and are used even among native speakers of English. Check out this list of Florida slang words with a Spanish origin:


If you ask someone from Cuba about the buses, they might talk about the “guagua.” This can be confusing to speakers of Spanish from other countries, where this word is slang for a small child. It seems to be an onomatopoeic, or imitative word, sounding like the noise made by a bus motor, or the gurgling sounds made by a toddler.


While this word clearly has its origins in “papa” (daddy), it has become a general term of endearment, usually used by a woman when speaking to a man. You might hear a waitress, store clerk, or fellow student call you “papi.” It doesn’t mean she thinks you are older, but she is just being friendly. It implies affectionate respect.


This Spanish word can be used in its original meaning, “Listen up”, to get someone’s attention, or as a general greeting.


The literal translation of this is “give it.” In Florida slang use, it means “go ahead” or “go on” (either speaking or doing something).


While you are improving your English skills, you may want to visit some of the other nearby areas. Knowing some words from this list of Florida slang will help you get to the right place:


An abbreviation for South Beach, one of the world’s prime party destinations. Many people like to take a weekend trip here to experience the famous nightlife.


This is how locals refer to the area of south Florida consisting of Monroe (Key West), Broward (Fort Lauderale) and Palm Beach (Boca Raton) counties. When you study English in Boca Raton, you’ll be a short distance from all the diverse fun to be found in “SoFlo”.


This is the way locals refer to Palm Beach Country,


This is the Florida idiomatic expression for “Tallahassee”, the state capitol.


This is how locals usually refer to Jacksonville, a major city in northern Florida

Alligator Alley:

Alligator Alley is a section of the I-75 highway that spans 80 miles. It runs through the Everglades between Naples and Fort Lauderdale. It gets its name from the alligators who live in the surrounding swamps. Visiting this spectacular habitat makes an interesting and exciting day trip when you have free days.


What is a “snowbird”? These are people from colder climates who come to Boca Raton and other parts of South Florida to enjoy the warm, sunny weather. They come from many parts of the northern United States, as well as Canada. As many of them are native speakers of English, striking up a conversation with them is a great way to practice.

Party Slang:

When you want to take a break from studying English, you might want to go to a party. Your English speaking friends will use a lot of Florida idioms when enjoying these events. There are some special kinds of parties given in the area:

Hurricane Party:

It’s a tradition for friends to gather together when a hurricane is approaching for mutual support. Everyone brings food and drink to the home or apartment of one of the group and waits for the storm.

Of course, if the authorities have suggested evacuation, you should follow their directions.

Tailgate Party:

If you are a sports fan, you may be invited to a “tailgate party” or simply “tailgate”. In this kind of party, the person in the group with the largest car loads up with snacks and drinks and serves them from the “tailgate” of their vehicle. This is sometimes done in the parking lot of the game location, if the management permits it. Social events like a tailgate party are great places to practice your English as you will be mixing with many native speakers.


Florida has the most awesome weather and Foridians like to talk about it. Here are some weather-related slang terms you might hear:

Florida Bath:

What is a “Florida Bath”? It’s almost always a good time for a dip in the pool or ocean, also known as a “Florida Bath.” You never know who might meet there, so be ready for a real conversation with some of the words you’ve learned from this list of Florida idioms. Don’t forget your sunscreen.


You’ll enjoy sunny, clear weather on most days. However, you might experience this unusual phenomenon when it is raining and sunny at the same time. These are usually very short and clear up quickly.

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