- very informal usage in vocabulary and idiom that is characteristically more metaphorical, playful, elliptical, vivid, and ephemeral than ordinary language, as Hit the road.
- (in English and some other languages) speech and writing characterized by the use of vulgar and socially taboo vocabulary and idiomatic expressions.
- the jargon of a particular class, profession, etc.
- the special vocabulary of thieves, vagabonds, etc.; argot.
- to use slang or abusive language.
- to assail with abusive language.
Origin of slang1
SynonymsSee more synonyms for slang on Thesaurus.com
- simple past tense of sling1.
- 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.
Examples from the Web for slang
Not even Radio Bemba (Cuban slang for the rumor mill) had picked up the signal.The Life and Hard Times Of The Family A Cuban Defector Left Behind
December 19, 2014
“I do all this stuff in the community and the haji mart over there,” he said, using the slang for Iraqis used by U.S. soldiers.Awkward: This Democratic Judicial Candidate's Husband Is a White Supremacist
August 11, 2014
To be bad is to be afraid of equality: Behind all the sloganeering and slang, that is the truth of the age.From Smarm To Snark, We’re All Soldiers In The War On Obscurity
December 7, 2013
The club drug Molly—slang for a form of ecstasy—is linked to four recent deaths.Molly: The Dangerous Drug That’s Too Good to Quit
September 8, 2013
Spending time around C.I.s makes it easier for a U.C. to pick up the slang of meth and its users.The Devil’s Drug: The True Story of Meth in New Mexico
August 24, 2013
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
Tim was picking up all the city boys' false pride as well as their slang.Stories of a Western Town
- 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
- (as modifier)a slang word
- another word for jargon 1
- to abuse (someone) with vituperative language; insult
Word Origin and History for slang
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."
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.)