American Culture California English Slang The Bay Area Vocabulary

Technology Slang + Exploring Silicon Valley

January 11, 2017

Adobe, Apple, eBay, Hewlett Packard, Netflix, Facebook . . . perhaps you’ve heard of these companies? Do you know what they have in common? They are all located in Silicon Valley! When you’re studying English at IEC@DVC, you are within arm’s reach of Silicon Valley: the hub of technology. In fact, the Bay Area is filled with young professionals either working for one of the world’s most famous companies or working hard to make the next “big thing” in tech. To celebrate this fascinating part of the Bay Area, we are looking at some tech slang in English that we now use thanks to the innovations of these companies.

Technology and Social Media Slang

First off: why do we call this area “Silicon” Valley? Today, it is home to thousands of  startup companies and the world’s largest tech corporations, but the region received the name “silicon” because it was once home to many silicon chip manufacturers.

Silicon Valley includes large parts of the Bay Area, such as the Santa Clara Valley (San Jose), the southern part of the San Francisco Peninsula, and the southern portions of the East Bay. Map source

With the new technologies these companies created came new vocabulary. How many of these tech and social media slang words do you know?

Digital detox

cell-phone-smart-phone-social-mediaOnce upon a time, a “detox” was when a person refrained from eating certain foods in an attempt to be healthier.

Today’s definition? A digital detox is a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers. This is usually an attempt to relieve stress or stop a technology addiction.


A troll once was a mythical creature who often lived in caves and who had a very ugly appearance.

In today’s terminology, a troll is a person who creates problems on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people. Trolls often post rude or upsetting or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the purpose of upsetting readers and creating arguments.

Troll can also be a verb: “His account was expired after he trolled too many people.”

Hot spot


A hot spot once was a dangerous place to avoid (often used to talk about locations in a war).

Today, a hot spot is a public place with an available wireless signal for Internet access.

Plugged in


Before the internet, plugged in meant when something electric was plugged into its electrical source.

Today, plugged in also means “to be online.”


We have the collocation to make a friend, and we have the word befriend (to become someone’s friend). But in the last few years, thanks to social media we now have another word: unfriend.

Unfriend is a verb that means “to stop being friends with someone on social media.”



Follow once meant “to go where another person was going.” In today’s tech world, follow also means “to receive updates from a person or company’s social media account.” These people are called followers.


We once subscribed to magazines or to channels on television. We still do . . . but now we also subscribe to YouTube channels, conversations, etc. In the online world, subscribers are called “subs.”


In the pre-Google world, 411 was the number we would call to get the numbers of people and businesses. It was run by a real operator.

Today, 411 means “information.” “What’s the 411 on the meeting tomorrow?”

Exploring Silicon Valley


We have Silicon Valley to thank for the technology that brought many of these words listed above. Have you explored this exciting part of the Bay Area? As an IEC@DVC student, you are less than an hour away from Silicon Valley using public transportation! Here are just a few of the things you can do and see during a trip to this famous part of the world.

Check out the Apple Store and Headquarters


You can’t buy a computer . . . but you can pick up some cool souvenirs like an Apple hat for yourself or a tech-loving friend at home! Unfortunately, Apple does not offer tours, so taking a look past the security guard is as close as we can get!

Address: 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA 95014
Hours: Monday — Friday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Visit the NASA Exploration Center


The NASA Ames Research Center is one of 10 NASA centers in the U.S.. The Ames Center does not offer tours, but visitors can visit the Exploration Center, where moon rock is on display!

Address: Moffett Field, California, 94035 Center
Exploration Center Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and on weekends 12 p.m. – 4 p.m)

Explore the Intel Museum


Parking is free, admission is free, and a visit to the Intel Museum gives visitors 10,000 square feet of exhibits showing Intel’s history and the process of making computers. Pretty cool!

Address: 2200 Mission College Boulevard, Santa Clara, CA 95054
Hours: Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Eat at Buck’s of Woodside

Hotmail and Tesla are said to have been incorporated at this restaurant, which is where “everyone” in the Silicon Valley is rumored to meet for lunch. Eat here and rub elbows with employees at some of the most popular companies!

Address: 3062 Woodside Road, Woodside, CA 94062
Monday — Thursday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Say hi to SmugMug


There are go-carts, a wall of gigapixel photos, and friendly staff members ready to welcome you at SmugMug. This family-operated photo-sharing company is a great place to explore!

67 E. Evelyn Ave, Suite 200
Mountain View, CA 94040
Call for hours

Tour the Winchester Mystery House


Take a break from tech and visit a crazy and fun Northern California landmark: the Winchester Mystery House! Widow Sarah Winchester purchased the home after her husband passed away and she inherited $20,000,000. For 38 years, she continued additions and repairs on the home. Some believe it is haunted!

Address: 525 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128
Call for hours and various tours.


KEEP LEARNING: Use this article in the classroom!


Answer these questions in class.

  • How do YOU define technology?
  • What’s one piece of technology you couldn’t live without?
  • Have you ever experienced someone trolling online? What do you think makes people do this?
  • Have you ever considered doing a digital detox? Why or why not?


What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of technology? Write a compare/contrast essay.

Technology has created a generation gap that cannot be mended. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Write an essay explaining your choice.


Check out some of these great articles.


How can you grammatically correctly answer this question, which is a Conditional:

What would have been considered “technology” 100 years ago?

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