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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

21
votes
9answers
8k views

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 ...
21
votes
9answers
8k views

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 ...
18
votes
2answers
2k views

Term for words like “Hanky-Panky” [duplicate]

Is there a name for these kind of doubled words? For example: hanky-panky flim-flam hoity-toity boo-hoo zig-zag Note that some rhyme and others do not.
13
votes
7answers
56k views

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 ...
12
votes
4answers
15k views

Is “embiggen” considered a formal or slang word?

If my memory serves me correctly, I first encountered the word embiggen a year or so ago. I thought it seemed odd, but in context, the meaning was quite obvious. Since that time I've seen this word ...
12
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
1k views

Are Pounds Sterling referred to as squid (in addition to quid)

Commonly pounds are called quid, but I've come across references to pounds as squid Is that a typo or actually a common usage? Example from Football forums: It is believed they have ...
11
votes
6answers
4k views

How did the slang meaning of “flog” come about?

I've searched multiple dictionaries and Etymonline but the only origin for "flog" that I can find is: 1670s, slang, perhaps a schoolboy shortening of L. flagellare "flagellate." This clearly ...
10
votes
6answers
13k views

Etymology of “to be like” meaning “to say”

It seems that "to be like" is an informal phrase for "to say". E.g. She was so angry, she was like "I'm breaking up with you", and I was like "I'm sorry", and she was like "Go away". Is this a ...
9
votes
6answers
18k views

Why does to “take a powder” mean to run away or to leave?

From Flappers to Rappers: American youth slang by Dr. Thomas Dalzell cites "take a powder" as a 1930s expression meaning to run away or to leave. Does anyone have any ideas why taking a powder would ...
8
votes
5answers
7k views

Where did the word “quim” come from?

Both the OED and Etymonline offer no clue as to origin of the slang term quim, meaning minge. The OED’s earliest citations are from the 18th, which isn’t quite as old as Adam, but has certainly been ...
8
votes
6answers
39k views

How to spell “the youzhe” as in the abbreviation of “the usual”

The usual is a common reply to what will you order? or what are you up to?. It is often abbreviated, in Canada, to the first syllable of usual, as in the youzhe. How would you spell this abbreviation? ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

Why would you write “ain't”? Isn't it a contraction only used in spoken English?

I often hear in English conversation or movies the contraction "ain't" (for "isn't"), but I am more surprised to see it in writing (and I am not referring to a novel, where I can understand its usage: ...
6
votes
3answers
777 views

Why do you suck at XYZ?

How bad is the usage of the word suck in English? Is this "bad boy" language or commonly used?
6
votes
5answers
3k views

“Fixing to” at the beginning of a sentence

Use of fixing to at the beginning of a sentence is prevalent in the southern states of Amerca. Is this the right usage? And is this only a southern US thing? Examples: Fixing to call her. ...
5
votes
2answers
522 views

19th century American English “slang”?

As I was doing a bit of research online I stumbled on this Children's Corner page 311 from the American Farmers' Magazine 1858. And, frankly, there are a lot of words that look totally foreign to me. ...
5
votes
1answer
3k views

Does “awe” have a colloquial meaning (similar to “awesome”)?

The meaning of awe is given in dictionaries as "an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime" (this definition is from ...
5
votes
1answer
25k views

Does “way too long” mean “a lot too long” or “slightly too long”? [closed]

Does way too long mean a lot too long, or slightly too long? Does way too stand for a huge or small measure?
5
votes
2answers
26k views

Is “could've” or “should've” standard English?

As the title says — is "could've" or "should've" standard English or is it slang and should correctly be spelled "could have" and "should have"?
5
votes
5answers
690 views

Is “denormalized” a word?

I use it all the time since I work with databases, but every time I write it somewhere with spell check I get the squiggly line below it. I've seen other people spell it with an "s" instead of a "z" ...
4
votes
4answers
5k views

What does the word “hacking” or “hacker” come from? [closed]

Is there a history behind the word "hacker" and "hacking"? Could it have anything to do with "hashing" i.e. using a hash function?
4
votes
4answers
22k views

What's a word that can mean both “good” and “bad”? [closed]

I've recently read about a word that was defined both as "shockingly good" and "shockingly bad", but I can't seem to recall the word. Does anyone know what it is? As far as I can recall, it was a ...
4
votes
6answers
5k views

In what contexts would one use the slang word “minging” in British English?

I was watching a Youtube video on English accents, and in the middle of a Yorkshire one, I think, the author of the video used the word "minging", in what seemed to be an insult. So I have two ...
3
votes
3answers
542 views

Why do exciting things “rock”?

Rock (v): 6. Slang. to be very good, impressive, exciting, or effective: This show really rocks. So where did this odd usage originate?
15
votes
3answers
3k 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. ...
13
votes
4answers
4k views

Where does the word “jism” come from?

Another word of mysterious origins of jism, in the sense of spunk. The OED mentions it is sometimes spelled jizz, and may even be the precursor word to jazz. But neither the OED nor Etymonline ...
13
votes
4answers
16k 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?
10
votes
14answers
18k views

What is the origin of the slang term “book” meaning “leave” or “hurry”?

This verb is used in expressions such as “I’ll see you later – gotta book now”. Dictionary.com has: Slang. b. to leave; depart: I’m bored with this party, let’s book.¹ Anybody know the ...
10
votes
3answers
4k views

'Ours' meaning 'our home' - where is it used outside the UK, if anywhere?

In expressions like: Let's go back to ours and have some food. There's a party at ours on Friday. There's a bottle of brandy at yours, isn't there? 'ours' and 'yours' are synonyms for ...
10
votes
2answers
4k views

Would sir like something for the weekend?

"Something for the weekend" is a euphemism heard in barber shops, when the above phrase is used to enquire of a customer whether he would like a packet of condoms. Does anyone know how this phrase ...
9
votes
2answers
12k views

Origin and variants of phrase: “let's blow this popsicle stand”

I'd like to know the origin and precursor or derivative variants of the phrase "let's blow this popsicle stand". Reliable, conclusive, source-supported, authoritative and consistent information about ...
8
votes
2answers
4k views

Is it derogatory or offensive to call a detective a dick?

The word dick is generally considered offensive and is marked so in dictionaries. But there is also a meaning of detective that it carries. I usually find no derog indication for this meaning. Is it ...
8
votes
5answers
2k views

Do Americans “gee things up”, or is it just a British usage?

As a Brit, I've always thought to "gee things up" (often followed by "a bit") was a relatively well-known Americanism - probably because I assume most figurative usages relating to horses come from ...
8
votes
3answers
134k views

How offensive is it to call someone a “slag” in British English? (NSFW)

One more colorful slang term I gleaned from the British movie I recently watched is slag. In the movie, it was used in curses like, "Fuck-ing dogs! Slags." "Right slag, that one." Now I know via ...
7
votes
3answers
163 views

Why is German anti-aircraft fire called “Archibald”?

Reading The War Illustrated (January 30th, 1915 number), I came across this passage:- At this speed they offer a comparatively stationary mark for the German anti-aircraft guns, always known as ...
7
votes
4answers
269 views

We might have to do some “fiddling”

I like the word fiddle, and I quite like the musical instrument too. If you're fiddling with a device, it means you're trying to repair it. It might be tricky because of all the tiny bits and pieces ...
7
votes
2answers
224 views

Is it mere slang to use the verb 'stick' in place of 'versus', as in 'Us three 'stick' you four'?

When I was a child (well over a half-century ago) in Norfolk, we would, when playing football talk of 'Team A stick Team B. When arranging sides informally we would say 'Us three stick the rest of ...
7
votes
1answer
920 views

Where did we get “buster” as in “Look here, buster”?

Americans, at least, have for some time used buster in speech or dialogue as a generic form of address. It has a range of tonalities, from light to affectionate to grimly confrontational. Listen, ...
7
votes
5answers
4k views

Is there a derogatory word for “mobile phone” (cellphone) similar to “idiot box” for a television?

My father called our TV "the idiot box". Implying either that it had idiots on it, was targeted at idiots, or you were an idiot if you watched it too much. Is there any similar term in use but ...
7
votes
3answers
531 views

Origin and scope of “cruft”

I just had to look up "cruft" (jargon for software or hardware that is of poor quality), as used in a comment to an earlier question. But I can't find any details of etymology, and I don't know how ...
7
votes
3answers
3k views

Is “wtf” an abbreviation or a euphemism?

In the English language we have a lot of euphemisms for profanities that take the form of abbreviations; for instance, people may say the f-word or the s-word if they don't want to say fuck and shit. ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Is there a non-colloquial equivalent term for “cool”?

As I get older (into my 30s) the less I feel like using youthful slang, and I take extra pride in using professional English. But I can't think of a word that is universally equivalent to the ...
6
votes
2answers
5k views

Origin of Doobie (joint, marijuana cigarette)

OED says: doobie: a marijuana cigarette Origin unknown. A relationship with dobby has been suggested. dobby/dobbie: A silly old man, a dotard, a booby. Dialectal. First citations: ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the origin of the idiom “Hong Kong dog”?

Does anybody know the origin of the idiom "Hong Kong dog"? EDIT: I'm more interested in how the idiom came into being rather than when it first appeared in mainstream media. Something like the guess ...
6
votes
3answers
17k views

What does it mean to “pay X on the dollar”?

When I hear money laundry lingo in TV crime-series, people sometimes fence stuff for so and so much "on the dollar". What does it actually mean? And where does the expression originate from?
6
votes
3answers
10k views

Origin of “I can haz”?

I see some domain names have "icanhaz" in them. I think there must be some story behind it. Do you guys know?
5
votes
1answer
55k views

Origin of “deez nuts”

I really hate to ask this one, but... When I was a child, some thirty plus years ago, there was a popular juvenile game where you would try to trick a friend into asking a question that could be ...
5
votes
1answer
944 views

Origin of “not for quids” phrase

At various times I've supposed the informal Australian phrase “not for quids” (which apparently is analogous to “not at any price”) derives from quid, which refers to sovereigns, or guineas. At ...
5
votes
2answers
561 views

Origin of “to be into [someone] for [a sum of money]”

"He's into me for fifty quid" means "He owes me fifty pounds". It's common enough in the UK, but I'm fairly sure I've heard it in American movies too (bucks or grand there, not quid, obviously), so I ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

What does 'mothercanuckers' mean?

First of all, sorry if it is offensive (I think it somewhat is). I was going through http://bleacherreport.com/articles/424590-the-funniest-promos-and-moments-in-wwe-history#page/20 The Rock ...