Learning the Fast Food Lingo

in Fast-food

When you are taking an ESL class, you are certain to learn the language very well. Unfortunately, the hardest part of using the language may come when you "head out with friends to grab a bite to eat at the local fast food joint!" That sentence itself is a perfect example of how learning the lingo of the language is maybe the biggest challenge of all. Fast food dining has an English language all of its own. The term "fast food" itself is a slang term used to describe a meal that can be prepared in just a few minutes. Restaurants such as McDonalds and Burger King are the two industry leaders, and have been serving up quick and convenient meals for decades. Most of the food provided is either fried or grilled, and is made to go or eat in. Here are a few explanations to help you navigate the ups and downs of ordering a meal on the go.

Short Forms

As is often the case with first languages, common words and phrases are shortened for convenience and quicker communication. The fast food industry is one place where this is very common and widely accepted and understood. Here are a few examples of shortened phrases or short forms that are popular both with fast food patrons and customer service staff.

A hamburger is usually just called a burger, or might have a name established by the restaurant and that becomes the standard way to order it. An example might be a Whopper or a Big Mac. French fries are usually shortened to just "fries" and a milkshake is just a "shake".

"Rings" are the accepted lingo for onion rings and chicken fingers are simply "fingers." A "sub" is short for a submarine sandwich and an ice cream cone is usually just called a cone.


Every language has its own kind of slang and English is no exception. Following are some of the more common slang terms used in a fast food environment.

"Grab a bite", "Get take out", "Hit a drive-thru" are all slang terms meaning to go out and order fast food.

A "combo" refers to a fast food meal that includes all the elements of the meal, such as a hamburger, French fries and a drink.

"Pop" and "soda" are both slang terms used to identify carbonated beverages and are determined by geographical location.

"To go" means you are taking the food with you rather than eating it in the restaurant.

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Susan Thomason has 1 articles online

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Learning the Fast Food Lingo

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This article was published on 2010/03/27