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.
verb (used without object)
  1. to use slang or abusive language.
verb (used with object)
  1. to assail with abusive language.

Origin of slang

First recorded in 1750–60; origin uncertain

Synonyms for slang

4. cant.

Usage note


verb Nonstandard.
  1. simple past tense of sling1. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for slanging

Historical Examples of slanging

  • And if there's anything that stamps a man as a cur and a cad, it's this vile habit of slanging the women for his own sins.

    The Tysons

    May Sinclair

  • He felt that in losing his temper and slanging the older fellows on the steps he had also lost ground.

    The Crimson Sweater

    Ralph Henry Barbour

  • But let me just point out that it is not consistent with my paternal duty to sit here and listen to you slanging your mother.

    Mr. Prohack

    E. Arnold Bennett

  • Her brother broke into a wild laugh at her slanging, which had such a bizarre effect in relation to her physical delicacy.

  • You are slanging those poor scissors because you are out of patience with things in general, Lady Tal.


    Vernon Lee

British Dictionary definitions for slanging


    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
  1. to abuse (someone) with vituperative language; insult
Derived Formsslangy, adjectiveslangily, adverbslanginess, noun

Word Origin for slang

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 slanging



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."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

slanging in Culture


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.)

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.