What does slag mean?


In slang, slag is an insulting British English term for a contemptible person. When used of women, it can be equivalent to slut. As a verb, to slag (off somebody) is "to attack (them) verbally," i.e., to talk smack about them.

Examples of slag


Examples of slag
Howlinn at Erin pretending to cry last night when Ross shouted at her calling her a slag and then grabbed her hands off her face and went “your not even fucking crying” 🤣🤣🤣
@sommer_manson, June 2019
To get slagged off by Noel [Gallagher] was, for me, a real life-affirming moment,” says [Lewis] Capaldi. Would he like to slag off anyone in return? “That’s not really my move. Ask me at the end of the year.”
Elle Hunt, Guardian, June 2019 / Ketflix & Pills

Where does slag come from?

Londonist / Entertainment One

Outside of slang, slag refers to residue from the process of smelting, a method used to separate a metal from raw ore. This slag comes from a German root and has been recorded in English since the 1550s.

The British slang slag, for a “worthless or objectionable person,” is attested by the late 1700s. Its origin is unclear, but the smelting slag may have contributed a sense of “useless detritus.”

From this sense of “contemptible person,” slag expanded to all types of people or things considered unsavory. In the early 1900s according to Green’s Dictionary of Slang, we can find slag for a “rough person,” “nonsense,” and “petty criminal,”

One particularly extension of slag is slang for “prostitute” or “promiscuous woman,” equivalent to slut or whore. This sense emerges by the mid-1900s, and is considered offensive and sexist.

Another use of slag is as a verb, usually in the verb phrase slag off. This means “to verbally abuse (someone),” e.g., He was slagging me off by calling me an idiot. This use has been recorded as early as the 1960s.

The English rock band the Arctic Monkeys notably used slag in their 2007 song “Fluorescent Adolescent”: “Oh, the boy’s a slag, the best you ever had.” Here, slag is apparently characterizing a male as being sexually promiscuous.

Who uses slag?

While not as coarse as some slurs or swears, slag is considered offensive. When used of women, it’s even more insulting and can be considered sexist.


Slagging (someone off) isn’t a nice thing to do, but using the slang verb isn’t as offensive as outright calling someone a slang.

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