Nah or Naw – What’s the Difference? (Helpful Examples)

Have you ever had someone answer a question you made using “Nah” or “Naw”? When it happened, did you wonder what it meant?

We want to know if those two words are correct and acceptable to use. Also, if we should avoid one and the proper way to use them.

Nah or Naw – What’s the Difference?

“Nah” and “Naw” are slang for the word “no”. They’re used when someone wants to answer a question in a light, not serious way. “Nah” is more common, used by people of all ages. “Naw” is more common on social media, among teenager groups. Both are correct and acceptable.

nah or naw

Take a look at the examples below:

  • Nah, she’s not coming to dinner.
  • Naw, she’s not coming to dinner.

“Nah” and “Naw” are synonyms. They convey the same meaning and are used with the same tone, which is extremely informal and light. You can interchange them in any sentence (as seen in the example) without harming the message you’re sending.

You should keep in mind, though, that “Nah” and “Naw” are slang. They aren’t meant to be used in any serious conversation, formal or informal. We wouldn’t use it in letters, professional papers, or anything that requires any level of seriousness.

The only appropriate context to use them is with people you’re very close with, like friends and family, in text messages, casual conversations, or on social media.


“Nah” is slang for the word “no”. People use it orally when trying to sound dismissive or casual. In writing, “Nah” is used mostly in extremely informal communications, such as text messages, social media conversations, etc. We’d never use it in any serious conversation, formal or informal.

According to The Cambridge Dictionary, “Nah” is merely slang for no, and works in a sentence as an adverb.

Take a look at some examples below, that show how “Nah” would be used to answer a question:

  • Do you want to go out tonight?
  • Nah, I don’t feel like going out.
  • Are you still majoring in computer science?
  • Nah, I switched my major to biochemistry.
  • Do you want to join me in my workout session tomorrow morning?
  • Nah, I’ll skip it this time.
  • Do you think Julia regrets what she said last time we met?
  • Nah, she was mean, but I don’t think she realizes it.


“Naw” is less common than “Nah”, but is an alternate form of slang for the word “no”. It’s more common amongst teenagers on social media, but indicates the same meaning, with a very informal tone.

You may be wondering, is “Naw” a word? The Cambridge Dictionary doesn’t acknowledge it as such. However, the presence of this word in teenage communications is undeniable. Also, it’s “Naw” is used a lot in Jamaica, in the place of no.

We think it’s a matter of time until dictionaries add a definition of “Naw”. Let’s take a look at some helpful examples:

  • Are you still dating Sarah?
  • Naw, we broke up a few weeks ago.
  • Do you want to go bowling?
  • Naw, I’m busy right now.
  • Have you watched the new movie?
  • Naw, I haven’t gotten the chance yet.
  • I was thinking about going to Paul’s. Do you want to come?
  • Naw, I had an argument with him last time we met.
  • You sounded upset on the phone yesterday.
  • Naw, I was just tired.

Which Is Used the Most?

Which one of those forms is used more often, “Nah” or “Naw”? Take a look at the graph from Google Ngram Viewer below.

nah or naw usage

“Nah” is, by a large difference, the most used of the two words. However, there are some interesting things in the graph.

First, we can’t help but notice that both words became common at the same time, around 1990. “Nah” grew to be more popular, but both words have been trending up and growing just the same.

Which one of the forms do you think you use more when talking to people close to you?

Final Thoughts

“Nah” and “Naw” are alternate forms of the same word. They mean “no” and are considered to be slang. They can be used in a very informal setting, to answer a question in a dismissive or funny way. Never use “Nah” or “Naw” in serious conversations.