Words like savage and beast have been flying around on the internet and in music for a while now. Today, we’ll “test” our English by looking at those as well as some phrases that use test and try in the slang sense. We’ll also look at some dialogues with Charles to see how they can be used. Starting off!
Try normally means “to attempt” to do something. For example, maybe you tried to learn how to play the piano like Mozart but never quite reached that level. In slang, try pretty much has the same sense as “to attempt,” with a small difference. If I say, “Try me,” it means to attempt to explain something to me. We can also say “try” to mean to attempt to do something bad or is a kind of bad behavior. Mom’s can tell their children, “Don’t try it,” which means the same as “Don’t do it.” “Don’t try me” then is like telling someone not to attempt something bad against you. Here’s an example:
Charles —Hey, look at those two kids. They’ve been staring each other down for a few minutes now.
Sheila —They do look pretty angry. I wonder what their issue is.
The two teens suddenly start to argue with one another.
Teen 1 —What? You’re trying to come at me, huh? I’m not scared of you.
Teen 2 —Oh, you think you’re tough. I bet you won’t try to hit me, though. You’ve been trying me ever since I got here.
- Teen 1 has been attempting to scare Teen 2 or be mean to him ever since he arrived.
Teen 1 —Ha! You’re the one who wanted to fight me. I see your fists are balled up. Don’t try it.
- Don’t attempt anything bad or stupid (against me).
Now, test you may know as an exam you sit and take to prove your knowledge. To “test” as a verb usually means to examine something or try a new experience. You can “test” a new flavor of ice cream, so it’s very similar to the word try. It’s the same way in slang, since “test” or “don’t test” can be used in the same way we saw “try” above. Another common phrase is to “test someone’s nerves.” This means to annoy someone, like you’re testing how much their brain can handle. I’ll save “nerves” for another day.
Teen 2 —Look, don’t test me, bro. Today’s not a good day.
- Don’t try to do anything bad or annoy me anymore.
Charles —Sheila, what are they fighting about, anyway?
Sheila — I don’t know. These kids are weird to me.
Charles —They must be mad for some reason. I mean, I doubt they just started an Old West showdown in the middle of the street for nothing.
Sheila —Well, all I know is that the one guy bumped into the other. He said, “Yo, I’m tired of you. You’ve been testing it all semester. Now I’m gonna beat you down.” Pretty much.
- You’ve been pushing the limits, picking on me, being mean to me, all semester.
Charles —Wow. This is wild.
You tried it
Again, the same concept as before. This phrase applies after some bad, mean or undesirable action has already taken place. It’s usually used to discourage any more of those actions from happening.
Charles —Look! I think they’re really gonna fight.
Teen 2 throws a punch at Teen 1’s head and misses.
Teen 1 —Woah, you tried it, huh? You don’t even know how to throw a punch.
- You attempted something bad or foolish against me.
Teen 2 —I was just warming up. Wait...
Teen 2 throws another surprise punch and lands it. He hits Teen 1 in the face and makes him fall down. Everyone standing around them starts to talk and scream.
Savage – Beast
These are two very common slang terms these days, and for good reason. A savage and a beast normally are creatures that live in the wild. They act like monsters or ferocious animals and have no conscience or remorse. The same goes for the slang meaning. Calling someone a “savage” or “beast” is like saying they are really good at something, like they are the best at something. They dominate, they kill (which is another slang that means doing really well at something), and they do other things that we associate with savages and wild beasts. Of course, we mean it in a positive way, like we’re complimenting the other person.
Lots of people, especially in music and sports, consider themselves savages or beasts, just like Megan Thee Stallion. A similar term used is “monster,” which is also a positive compliment. Think of Kanye West (listen to Monster here). “Savage” can also mean doing things without caring about the consequences. Instead of being negative, it is almost used in admiration, like the other person is cool for being this way.
Sheila —Dang! Did you see that hit? Man, these kids are savage nowadays.
- These kids are reckless, don’t care about consequences, but are kind of cool because of it.
Charles —Yeah, I know.
Teen 2 —That’s right! I’m a savage, you heard?
- I’m the best. I’m reckless. I don’t care. But I’m really cool.
As everyone around yells and laughs, Teen 1 gets up and reaches out his hand.
Teen 1 —Yo. I got respect, bro. That was a good hit you got me with.
Teen 2 —Thanks.
Teen 1 —You know, I do MMA down at the gym. You would be a beast in the octagon if you wanted to fight with us.
- You would be great, one of the best, a fearsome fighter.
Teen 2 —Sounds like a plan. I’ve always wanted to try out MMA fighting. Hey, are we cool?
Teen 1 —We cool.
Sheila —Aww. How cute! They made up.
Like with many slang words, savage and beast can be perceived as positive or negative, compliment or insult, depending on how they are used and depending on the speaker’s tone. Generally, these days they are used as compliments and are a way to show admiration for a person or for yourself, but there are always exceptions. Try and test are used usually in more intimate settings and you might say it with a friend, a family member, or another person that is trying to be mean or act badly in some way. Try/test it are acting badly in general situations, while try/test me is acting against you (or whoever is speaking). These terms can be a little tricky, so try to pay attention to cues from others and see how they use them. Otherwise, even if you don’t want to use them (I don’t use these terms too often) you will at least be able to understand when other English speakers say them. Someone definitely will.
Hey everyone! Could you use these terms in your own sentences? In what other situations could you imagine someone saying these? Have you heard these terms in English-language songs? Let me know in the comments! If you have suggestions for words or phrases that you would like explained, tell me here or send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks and take care!