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slang1

[slang]
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noun
  1. very informal usage in vocabulary and idiom that is characteristically more metaphorical, playful, elliptical, vivid, and ephemeral than ordinary language, as Hit the road.
  2. (in English and some other languages) speech and writing characterized by the use of vulgar and socially taboo vocabulary and idiomatic expressions.
  3. the jargon of a particular class, profession, etc.
  4. the special vocabulary of thieves, vagabonds, etc.; argot.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to use slang or abusive language.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to assail with abusive language.
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Origin of slang1

First recorded in 1750–60; origin uncertain

Synonyms

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4. cant.

Usage note

slang2

[slang]
verb Nonstandard.
  1. simple past tense of sling1.
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slang dictionary

noun
  1. a specialized dictionary covering the words, phrases, and idioms that reflect the least formal speech of a language. These terms are often metaphorical and playful, and are likely to be evanescent as the spoken language changes from one generation to another. Much slang belongs to specific groups, as the jargon of a particular class, profession, or age group. Some is vulgar. Some slang terms have staying power as slang, but others make a transition into common informal speech, and then into the standard language. An online slang dictionary, such as the Dictionary.com Slang Dictionary, provides immediate information about the meaning and history of a queried term and its appropriateness or lack of appropriateness in a range of social and professional circumstances.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for slang

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • And as Monny remarked, in neat American slang, we were "right up against it."

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • She knitted her brows over this fresh specimen of American slang.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • Ordinary London slang is full of witty things said by nobody in particular.

    Alarms and Discursions

    G. K. Chesterton

  • In short, to use a slang expression, I distinctly got away with it.

    The Harbor

    Ernest Poole

  • Tim was picking up all the city boys' false pride as well as their slang.


British Dictionary definitions for slang

slang

noun
    1. vocabulary, idiom, etc, that is not appropriate to the standard form of a language or to formal contexts, may be restricted as to social status or distribution, and is characteristically more metaphorical and transitory than standard language
    2. (as modifier)a slang word
  1. another word for jargon 1
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verb
  1. to abuse (someone) with vituperative language; insult
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Derived Formsslangy, adjectiveslangily, adverbslanginess, noun

Word Origin

C18: of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for slang

n.

1756, "special vocabulary of tramps or thieves," later "jargon of a particular profession" (1801), of uncertain origin, the usual guess being that it is from a Scandinavian source, cf. Norwegian slengenamn "nickname," slengja kjeften "to abuse with words," literally "to sling the jaw," related to Old Norse slyngva "to sling." But OED, while admitting "some approximation in sense," discounts this connection based on "date and early associations." Liberman also denies it, as well as any connection with French langue (or language or lingo). Rather, he derives it elaborately from an old slang word meaning "narrow piece of land," itself of obscure origin. Century Dictionary says "there is no evidence to establish a Gipsy origin." Sense of "very informal language characterized by vividness and novelty" first recorded 1818.

[S]lang is a conscious offence against some conventional standard of propriety. A mere vulgarism is not slang, except when it is purposely adopted, and acquires an artificial currency, among some class of persons to whom it is not native. The other distinctive feature of slang is that it is neither part of the ordinary language, nor an attempt to supply its deficiencies. The slang word is a deliberate substitute for a word of the vernacular, just as the characters of a cipher are substitutes for the letters of the alphabet, or as a nickname is a substitute for a personal name. [Henry Bradley, from "Slang," in "Encyclopedia Britannica," 11th ed.]

A word that ought to have survived is slangwhanger (1807, American English) "noisy or abusive talker or writer."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

slang in Culture

slang

Expressions that do not belong to standard written English. For example, “flipping out” is slang for “losing one's mind” or “losing one's temper.” Slang expressions are usually inappropriate in formal speech or writing. (See jargon.)

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.