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Slang


Slang is an important source of new words for a language. It springs from the imagination of the people. Slang supplies great numbers of words that share the characteristics of the language, of which it is a part. Many of these words are transitory and disappear within a few years of their creation. Others survive and ultimately become part of the language. They join the stream of words that arise in response to the need created by the forward march of science and technology.

When the term, slang, originated during the eighteenth century, it denoted the peculiar language of rogues, criminals, and beggars. Today, many groups of people have their own special idioms and vocabulary. This special language is used for shoptalk, to help the user feel important, or to differentiate the members of a clique or group from outsiders. The military establishment, jazz musicians, stock and commodity market traders and employees, doctors, nurses, and teen-agers are among the groups that have their own idioms or vocabulary. In addition, some slang phrases are merely attempts to create colorful and unconventional terms. Others are obscenities. Finally, the term, slang, includes existing words or terms to which new or different meanings are ascribed.

Everyone uses some slang. Some of it is wholly acceptable, but not at all times or in all situations. Just as some occasions require the use of more formal clothing, many occasions require a more formal style of language. In addition, slang has two disadvantages. First, it creates a barrier to communication for the uninitiated. Second, because most slang is short and lively, favoring one-syllable words, it leads to the use of clichés, rather than the use of more precise words. Dependence on slang can lead to fuzzy thinking.

Here are some examples of slang:

  • cool
  • have got
  • square
  • weird
  • awesome
  • boss
  • awful
  • hard to get
  • dot-com
  • get/put the point across
  • funny
  • smoothie
  • out of sight
  • unbelievable
  • kid
  • bean-counter
  • amazing
  • when you get right down to it
  • give me a break
  • chill out
  • bunch (except for grapes, etc.)
  • pump you up
  • a good/real buy
  • kind of
  • talk shop
  • dirty bomb
  • loaded
  • smashed
  • anyplace
  • three sheets to the wind
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