Slang is a type of language that consists of words, and phrases, that are regarded as very informal.

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What is the origin of ZOMG?

I have looked in a number of places, with contradicting results. The Urban Dictionary provides a whopping 73 "explanations", of which I will quote just a few. (Original spelling and punctuation ...
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10answers
14k views

Differences between slang words for breasts

What is the difference between “tits” and “boobs”? P.S. I'm not sure if this question is appropriate but as English is not my native language I really would love to know the difference.
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6answers
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What is meant by “don't piss on my boots and tell me it's raining”?

I have heard a couple of times recently the phrase "don't piss on my boots and tell me it's raining", usually in the context of a heated argument so I've hesitated to ask speaker what exactly he meant ...
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5answers
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“Screwed” vs. “nailed”: why is the slang so different?

While the two names nail and screw have similar shapes and functions, why do the verbs differ so much? Someone has screwed something sounds like they have ruined something to me, while someone has ...
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8answers
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Why “job” in “nut job”

Why are crazy people called nut jobs? Why are they called a job? Wiktionary is of no help here.
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7answers
4k views

How bad is the f-word, really?

I am confused: on the one hand, many of my native-speaker friends keep telling me that the f-word is very, very bad. Much worse than the s-word for example. On the other hand, I see it being used ...
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5answers
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“A whole nother” way of looking at things

People say this so much (instead of "another whole" way, etc.) that I wonder how it got started. How did "another whole..." get changed to "a whole nother..."?
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7answers
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How derogatory is “chicks” when used to refer to women?

A comment in “What is a feminine version of guys?” got me wondering: how derogatory is the use of chicks to refer to women (either in general, or to a specific group). To me (I'm a man), it was quite ...
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10answers
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What's the origin of “yo”?

I have some friends, and they say “Yo!” when I call them. I haven”t heard this response until quite recently (somehow), and I thought it was some word coined by rappers in their songs, and was adopted ...
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8answers
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Why do we “get cold feet”?

A sudden loss of nerve when embarked on a venture is called cold feet. Does anyone know why that should be? An etymology is suggested at englishdaily626. If your 'feet' are 'cold', you can't walk ...
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6answers
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“Knocked up” to mean “woken up”

I'm reading some Sherlock Holmes stories (don't judge - it's good vacation reading) and Conan Doyle has Holmes saying things like "Sorry to knock you up, Watson..." which I'm finding very... odd. ...
18
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3answers
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What does “do a take 5” mean?

The context is “We will always do a TAKE 5 prior to undertaking work”. I have no idea what a “take 5” is. I searched “take 5” on Google but I didn’t find an applicable explanation. Here is the ...
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Is “Yankee” derogatory?

I have heard of the term "Yankee" often referring to people in the Northern U.S. by Southerners. My question is: is this term considered derogatory or offensive and should it be avoided in formal ...
18
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5answers
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Do Brits understand rhyming slang or are they sometimes puzzled by it too?

Most people know that rhyming slang is a colorful addition to British English, where someone says something that is not the intended word but rhymes with it. For example, He was brown bread. ...
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3answers
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What does “packing heat” mean?

I believe it means “to carry a weapon”, but I would also like the phrase origins, if possible. So the full question is: What is the meaning of the phrase “packing heat” and what are its origins?
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Difference between “retro” and “vintage”

What's the difference between retro and vintage? (or antique for that matter)
16
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7answers
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Why are you a plonker?

The idiom, plonk (something/someone) down means to slap something down; to plop something down to sit or lie down on something in a careless or noisy way to leave someone somewhere to do ...
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2answers
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“I'm on the brew”

A conversation between two Scots: — What do you do for a living? — I'm on the brew. Assuming that I have the phrase right, what exactly does "on the brew" mean here? Based on the context, I ...
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4answers
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How long has the f-word been in use as an abusive term?

When was the f-word 'invented'? Who invented it? Has it always had the derogatory meaning that it does today. Is it a recent invention?
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4answers
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Why do we “paint the town red”?

Why is the phrase "paint the town red" used to mean go on a colossal drinking spree? Does anyone know where it came from? Green's Slang Dictionary tentatively suggests a famous toot by the Marquis of ...
16
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2answers
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People's names as names for genitalia?

How did Peter, the surname, Johnson, and the nicknames for William(Willy) and Richard(Dick), come to mean penis? Was the first instance of these usages, related to a specific person? Are there more ...
15
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5answers
2k views

The use of “hey” in North America

Having had my formative years in New Zealand, I was born in South Africa. I vaguely recall when I was VERY young having someone tell me when I said "hey" that "hay is what horses eat". I got that ...
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3answers
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Why do we say “[expletive] ALL” for “nothing”?

Damn all, Bugger all, Sod all etc., etc. What does all mean here? How did the expression originate? Was there a single original term (expletive or not) preceding all in this usage? At the risk of ...
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4answers
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What's the difference between “informal”, “colloquial”, “slang”, and “vulgar”?

It seems many people get confused about the differences (and similarities) between "colloquial" and "slang", so what exactly does each term apply to? But to be even more thorough it seems to me we ...
15
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2answers
939 views

Is this usage of “lol” considered a hedge?

In doing some research on another question I bumped into the term "hedge": A hedge is a mitigating device used to lessen the impact of an utterance. Typically, they are adjectives or adverbs, but ...
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3answers
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How does “pussy” come to mean “coward”?

The word pussy is often used to mean "coward". This guy is a pussy. and I am wondering why. How are woman's genitals related to being a "coward"?
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10answers
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Is it offensive to call a redhead a “ginger”?

So I just re-watched this great comedy by Tim Minchin, and here are the questions: How bad/offensive is the g-word really (other than being an anagram of the n-word)? What are alternatives? Is ...
14
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3answers
13k views

What is the origin of “call a spade a spade” and does it have racial connotations?

Now that we know how to punctuate the phrase “call a spade a spade” I am curious where it originated and what the original meaning was. Also, the term “spade” can have negative racial connotations ...
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5answers
1k views

Where did “wired” come from?

I am not a coffee drinker, but I just drank some coffee. I said to my Hispanic friend, "I am WIRED!" and had to explain what the slang term means. However now that I think about it, that's an awfully ...
14
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3answers
1k views

How old is the word “prolly”?

Prolly is given this definition at Wiktionary: Clipped pronunciation of probably. I was reading an interesting article today that claimed prolly dates from 1947 and that surprised me. ...
14
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4answers
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Is the word “wotcher” British slang? What does it mean?

I was reading a Harry Potter book the other day and one of the characters greets Harry by saying "Wotcher, Harry". What is "Wotcher"?
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4answers
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Etymology of “div”

Acting like a div yesterday:- a stupid or foolish person I started to wonder how this term of abuse came about. Urban Dictionary has a quaint tale:- Actually originates from prison slang in ...
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5answers
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How to spell [ʒʊʒd] and what does it mean?

I heard this strange word in American Dad over a year ago and it's been bugging me ever since. Not only do I have no idea how it's spelt, I have no idea how it could possibly be spelt. My only guesses ...
14
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4answers
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Why “shrink” (of a psychiatrist)?

I know it originates from "head shrinking", but it doesn't help me a lot to understand the etymology. Why are psychiatrists called that? Is it like "my head is swollen [from anguish, misery, stress, ...
13
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9answers
3k views

How to call certain kinds of tall shoes that women use to wear?

Because their strange features, even in my own language I find it difficult to decide by what name to call the shoes shown in the image below. I'm not looking for a technical term, but for a cute and ...
13
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9answers
530 views

A non-straight route

In informal speech, how would you describe a bus that travels from point A to point B by passing through every part of the city instead of using the straight way? When you give someone an advice which ...
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7answers
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Is “Canuck” offensive?

I was criticized the other day for using this word. It never occurred to me that it was offensive, but Wikipedia says it "may" be derogatory. Given Vancouver's hockey team, I tend to think it's ...
13
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5answers
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Origin of “jack sh*t”

Why do we say "Jack Shit" to mean "nothing at all"?
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2answers
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Why does “sucker” mean “unexpected” in “Sucker Punch”?

Sucker punch seems to mean "an unexpected punch" in slang. What is the origin of this term and why does sucker mean unexpected in sucker punch?
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7answers
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How do I spell the truncation 'Cas', as in 'Sports Casual/Sports Cas'?

How do I spell the truncation 'Cas', as in 'Sports Casual/Sports Cas'? It may be UK only, and may have been spawned by Alan Partridge. Cash/Cas are not right. *As in a slang term, "he was acting all ...
12
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2answers
2k views

How did the slang meaning of “owned” come to be?

Why does Dude! I just owned you! mean that the speaker did really well against "Dude" in some sort of competition or game?
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6answers
6k views

What does the term “86'd” relate to?

What does it mean when someone or something is referred to as being "86'd"?
12
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5answers
39k views

What is the etymology of “cornhole”?

Since being introduced to the bean bag-toss game of the same name, I've wondered about this word. The old farm game, similar to horseshoes, has recently gained such popularity that Googling cornhole ...
12
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4answers
6k views

Why is a bathroom sometimes called a “john”?

"John" is sometimes used as slang for a bathroom or a toilet. I'm curious, what is the origin of this usage?
12
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2answers
762 views

Guidelines for the use of the slang term “cise”

I heard an unfamiliar regional slang word used thusly: I'm gonna go cise (rhymes with ice) me a sandwich and then I'll be back. When I questioned the user, the speaker insisted it has been ...
12
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4answers
9k views

Are the terms “welsh” or “welch” (as in reneging on a bet) derogatory toward the Welsh people?

From the casual research I've done, it's assumed to be offensive (like "gyp" for Gypsies), but I've not found anything definitive. I'm also curious when it first entered the language with this ...
11
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12answers
6k views

What is a feminine version of “dude”?

OK . . . another one similar to "What is a feminine version of 'guys'?" "Dude" is masculine; what is the feminine version? The usage I'm thinking of is that "dude" nowadays is used primarily as a ...
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Is it true that “tuppence” refers to a woman's vagina in British English slang? If so, why?

I was looking up a definition online, as I often do, in this case the British slang word tuppence; I got the standard "a slang reference to a coin denomination" definition from Wikipedia, but stumbled ...
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4answers
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How to describe Homer Simpson's 'idunno' sound

In The Simpsons Homer makes a closed mouth sound made up of three rising and falling tones, resembling (and meaning the same as) 'idunno' said without opening the mouth. I hear it being used from ...
11
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2answers
3k views

What does “OMG ponies!” mean?

What does this mean and what is the origin of this phrase?