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If a word or phrase is used and has evolved its own meaning peculiar to a specific group, is this described as jargon or is there a closer semantic match?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Yes, jargon usually has a meaning peculiar to a specific group. A synonym is intalk. Here's the Wiktionary definition for confirmation.

jargon

Noun

jargon (countable and uncountable; plural jargons)

  1. (uncountable) A technical terminology unique to a particular subject.
  2. (countable) Language characteristic of a particular group.
  3. (uncountable) Speech or language that is incomprehensible or unintelligible; gibberish.

Synonyms (language characteristic of a group): argot, cant, intalk, slang vernacular

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I like the intalk suggestion. Great word. –  Ben Aug 21 '11 at 12:15

The definition of jargon refers to the vocabulary of a specific group:

the language, especially the vocabulary, peculiar to a particular trade, profession, or group

However, if the word or phrase developed to keep others out (that is, it was purposefully created as a kind of linguistic barrier) it might be classified as a cant:

Cant is the jargon, argot or cryptolect of a group, often implying its use to exclude or mislead people outside the group

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2  
I think that sense of "cant" is hopelessly archaic today. –  FumbleFingers Aug 21 '11 at 13:07

On can also see term of art for some things like this. LINK

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The word vernacular would work.

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Argot

The jargon or slang of a particular class or group.

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