American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A kind of language occurring chiefly in casual and playful speech, made up typically of short-lived coinages and figures of speech that are deliberately used in place of standard terms for added raciness, humor, irreverence, or other effect.
- n. Language peculiar to a group; argot or jargon: thieves' slang.
- v. To use slang.
- v. To use angry and abusive language: persuaded the parties to quit slanging and come to the bargaining table.
- v. To attack with abusive language; vituperate.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. An obsolete or archaic preterit of sling.
- n. A narrow piece of land. Also slanket.
- n. The cant words or jargon used by thieves, peddlers, beggars, and the vagabond classes generally; cant. Slang in the sense of the cant language of thieves appears in print certainly as early as the middle of the last century. It was included by Grose in his “Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue,” published in 1785. But it was many years before it was allowed a place in any vocabulary of our speech that confined itself to the language of good speakers and writers, Its absence from such works would not necessarily imply that it had not been in frequent use. Still, that this never had been the case we have direct evidence. Scott, in his novel of “Redgauntlet,” which appeared in 1824, when using the word, felt the necessity of defining it; and his definition shows not only that it was generally unknown, but that it had not then begun to depart at all from its original sense. In the thirteenth chapter of that work, one of the characters is represented as trying to overhear a conversation, … but … “what did actually reach his ears was disguised so completely by the use of cant words and the thieves' Latin called
slangthat, even when he caught the words, he found himself as far as ever from the sense of their conversation.” No one who is now accustomed either to speak slang [in def. 2], or to speak of the users of it, would think of connecting it with anything peculiar to the language of thieves. Yet it is clear from this one quotation that the complete change of meaning which the term has undergone has taken place within a good deal less than sixty years. The Nation, Oct. 9, 1890, p. 289.
- n. In present use, colloquial words and phrases which have originated in the cant or rude speech of the vagabond or unlettered classes, or, belonging in form to standard speech, have acquired or have had given them restricted, capricious, or extravagantly metaphorical meanings, and are regarded as vulgar or inelegant. Examples of slang are rum for ‘queer,’ gay for ‘dissolute,’ corned, tight, slued, etc., for ‘intoxicated,’ awfully for ‘exceedingly,’ jolly for ‘surprising, uncommon,’ daisy for something or somebody that is charming or admirable, kick the bucket or hop the twig for ‘die.’ etc. This colloquial slang also contains many words derived from thieves' cant, such as pal for ‘partner, companion,’ cove for ‘fellow,’ and ticker for ‘watch.’ There is a slang attached to certain professions, occupations, and classes of society, such as racing slang, college slang, club slang, literary slang, political slang. (See
cant.) Slang enters more or less into all colloquial speech and into inferior popular literature, as novels, newspapers, political addresses, and is apt to break out even in more serious writings. Slang as such is not necessarily vulgar or ungrammatical; indeed, it is generally correct in idiomatic form, and though frequently censured on this ground, it often, in fact, owes its doubtful character to other causes. Slang is often used adjectively: as, a slang expression. See the quotations below.
- n. Synonyms Slang, Colloquialism, etc. See cant.
- To use slang; employ vulgar or vituperative language.
- To address slang or abuse to; berate or assail with vituperative or abusive language; abuse; scold.
- n. Among London costermongers, a counterfeit weight or measure.
- n. Among showmen: A performance.
- n. A traveling booth or show.
- n. A hawker's license: as, to be out on the slang (that is, to travel with a hawker's license).
- n. A watch-chain.
- n. plural Legirons or fetters worn by convicts. The slangs consist of a chain weighing from seven to eight pounds and about three feet long, attached to ankle-basils riveted on the leg, the slack being suspended from a leather waistband: hence the name.
- n. Language outside of conventional usage.
- n. Language that is unique to a particular profession or subject; jargon.
- n. The specialized language of a social group, sometimes used to make what is said unintelligible to those not members of the group; cant.
- v. transitive, dated To vocally abuse, or shout at.
GNU Webster's 1913
- Archaic imp. of sling. Slung.
- n. Local, Eng. Any long, narrow piece of land; a promontory.
- n. engraving A fetter worn on the leg by a convict.
- n. Low, vulgar, unauthorized language; a popular but unauthorized word, phrase, or mode of expression; also, the jargon of some particular calling or class in society; low popular cant
- v. colloq. To address with slang or ribaldry; to insult with vulgar language.
- v. use slang or vulgar language
- n. informal language consisting of words and expressions that are not considered appropriate for formal occasions; often vituperative or vulgar
- n. a characteristic language of a particular group (as among thieves)
- v. fool or hoax
- v. abuse with coarse language
- 1756, origin unknown. (Wiktionary)
- Origin unknown. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“One of the aspects of coolness they note in slang is a playfulness, a sense of fun with the language.”
“A journalist writes to ask about tween-speak, which he defines as slang spoken by people between the age of 8 and 12.”
“The dreary _ennui_ of the heart, _ennui_ that revolts at truth, that is nauseated by earnestness, expresses itself in what we call slang, and slang is the sign of mental disease.”
“And did you notice that 'slang' is one of those words that looks weird after you've seen it a few times in a row?”
“Regardless of how back-formations are formed, they are often initially considered to be irregular, even ignorant, and suitable only for informal use in slang or jokes.”
“I do have trouble with French movies, especially when it starts, then gradually I get it ... slang is also challenging but slang is challenging in English too.”
“The #1 guide to American slang is now bigger, more up-to-date, and easier to use”
“Note that the relatively high transmission rates among MSMs of both Hep-B and HHV-8 are known to be associated with a very specific sexual practice — namely, anilingus (“rimming,” in slang).”
“He learned how to control thousands of computers as zombie-slaves, or "chickens" in Chinese slang, to attack Websites, Mr. Lei said in an interview.”
“But the style, with an endless procession of 1940s slang, is overwrought and the author has yet to learn how to present her material to maximum effect.”
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