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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

12
votes
8answers
8k views

Did the slang term “The Bomb” meaning “Very Cool” come from the American Jazz scene?

Searching Google for the history of the slang term "the bomb" (as in "That song is the bomb") yields a number of results in 40s/50s jazz glossaries, but they tend to at best give an artificial example ...
11
votes
5answers
3k views

English term for aggressive street seller?

Is there an English term for the type of street seller who aggressively sells his products? The type who yell after you and may follow you as you walk down the street?
11
votes
13answers
6k views

What does “from hunger” mean?

What is the meaning of the phrase "from hunger", as in, "This xyz is from hunger"? From the context I found it in, it appears to mean either very good, or very bad, but it's hard to tell which. The ...
11
votes
14answers
6k views

Is there a slang word or phrase for someone who is always playing dirty tricks or unpleasant practical jokes on his friends and acquaintances?

context: He will surreptitiously introduce a frog into your handbag. You leave your car keys on a desk, he sees it and hides it somewhere. He may offer you M&M type candies that will leave your ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

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
votes
3answers
6k views

Origin of the phrase “for the win”?

Just curious as to where "for the win" (commonly abbreviated FTW) originated?
11
votes
4answers
35k views

What is the origin of the phrase “There goes the neighborhood” and does it have racial connotations?

I understood the meaning of the phrase to be relatively benign and mostly used facetiously. Can it be viewed as offensive in contemporary conversation?
11
votes
5answers
74k views

What is the origin and history of the word “motherf---er”?

I'm not a native English speaker, but I would like to know how and why people started using mother fucker. Today it seems it has lost its meaning because people use it all the time, but was there a ...
11
votes
6answers
5k views

“Don't got” — how common is it in American usage?

I often hear the usage "don't got" in American English as spoken on TV programmes. Recently I was watching season four of "Prison Break" and one character, an Asian computer wizard, repeatedly used ...
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
4answers
222k views

What does “fleek” mean and when was it first used?

The word fleek is all over Twitter. The @lovihatibot Twitterbot routinely finds it in searches for "I love the word [X]" and "I hate the word [X]", in fact it's the third most hated word over the ...
11
votes
7answers
22k views

What does “ratchet” mean and when was it first used?

The word ratchet is all over Twitter. Some real examples from just now: "All these ghetto ass ratchet ass girls at mchi are wearing these Santa hats, and they all claim to be Santa..." "I was ...
11
votes
4answers
818 views

How does one “get rekt”?

I often see people write "get rekt" to someone when that person makes a mistake or when they beat the person to a goal. It's not immediately obvious what this is intended to mean. I assume "rekt" is ...
11
votes
13answers
16k views

Origin of “the wrong end of the stick”

If someone has the wrong end of the stick it means they've misunderstood something. If they've got the shitty end of the stick it means they've got a bad deal in some bargain or share-out. This ...
11
votes
2answers
24k views

Use of “deadpool” as a verb

I recently came across this term while examining a set of properties in a JSON feed relating to a startup company: ... "deadpooled_year": null, "deadpooled_month": null, "deadpooled_day": null, ...
11
votes
4answers
387k views

What does “thot” mean and when was it first used?

The word thot is all over Twitter. The @lovihatibot Twitterbot routinely finds it in searches for "I love the word [X]" and "I hate the word [X]", in fact it's the most hated word and third most ...
11
votes
4answers
853 views

Origin of the word “spraunce”

I was recently talking to someone who said a restaurant was spraunce, meaning it was well-presented and high-quality (that being the sense I was familiar with). We briefly discussed the fact that he ...
11
votes
8answers
7k views

Why is “bombshell” used to describe attractive women?

Bombshell is a term used to describe very attractive women, similar to the term "sex symbol". The phrase was notably used as the title of a 1930's film, which incidentally lead to its lead actress ...
11
votes
3answers
333 views

Does “show” for “put in an appearance; arrive” sound any more or less informal/slack than “show up” in modern day English?

Is there a difference in register between saying: He failed to show for his appointment When will the bus show? -and- He failed to show up for his appointment When will the bus ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

Yikes! Where did it come from?

(humorous, slang) Expressing fear. (humorous, slang) Expressing empathy with unpleasant or undesirable circumstances. [Wiktionary] Yikes! Where did it come from? OED says "Origin ...
11
votes
2answers
3k views

Come on, don’t be such a nimrod!

According to the OED, the word English Nimrod is derived from the Hebrew, where in Genesis 10:8–9 he is described as ‘a mighty one in the earth’ and ‘a mighty hunter before the Lord’. It is ...
11
votes
6answers
5k 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
6k views

How did the word “copacetic” come into use?

I once heard the late John Ciardi (NPR's "A Word in Your Ear") try to explain that the 1920s idiom, "copacetic" (meaning completely satisfactory), entered into the African-American vocabulary in ...
10
votes
3answers
7k views

If the English language is always evolving, why do we need to learn and follow grammatical rules?

Since language evolves over time — the best example I can think of is slang where it mostly doesn't follow grammar rules — why is there a need to preserve grammar or stress that proper ...
10
votes
7answers
21k views

Can the term “jack/jerk off” be used for female masturbation?

I apologize for this potentially obscene question. Can the terms jack off or jerk off be used for female masturbation? If not (which is my intuition), what would be the not too poetic vulgar slang ...
10
votes
6answers
17k views

Non-sexual meaning of “to have a hard-on for someone”

What does it mean to "have a hard-on for someone" in a non-sexual sense? I've heard it used in contexts that make it seem like the subject is acting aggressive or belligerent toward "someone". Is that ...
10
votes
10answers
6k views

Why is money called “rhino”?

I was going to the hole-in-the-wall to get some rhino the other day, when I started to wonder why cash is so-called. I hit the books. Farmer & Henley gives no etymology. Partridge says Origin ...
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 ...
10
votes
4answers
238 views

Did British chef Jamie Oliver redefine “pukka” in 1999?

Recently I've been watching cooking programmes: MasterChef Italia (addictive), MasterChef USA (awful), followed swiftly by Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares, and then onto Jamie Oliver's acclaimed The ...
10
votes
7answers
28k views

What is the meaning of the term “herbert” in British slang?

In the song Get Out of My House by The Business, the chorus is: Out, out get out of my house, you'd better take your sheepskin too no son of mine's going round as a hippie or a scruffy little ...
10
votes
7answers
13k views

Colloquial definition of “douchebag”

Obviously "douchebag" has a literal meaning - however if we see someone wearing sunglasses indoors, we would call them a douchebag. I'm trying to explain this to a friend. How do you verbalize this ...
10
votes
3answers
761 views

Do any non-transitive (in a mathematical sense) slang terms exist?

Are there any words that are slang for another word which is itself a slang term for something else, but the secondary slang term is not slang for the original word? That is, given words Y and Z, ...
10
votes
4answers
118k views

What does “five O” mean (and why)?

I've heard quite a few times the term "five O" (eg in the US TV show "the Wire"). It seems to mean "police" (inferred from the context), and I'm curious to know where the expression comes from, and ...
10
votes
14answers
19k 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
4answers
2k views

Usage of “fanny” as verb

I am not a native English speaker, hence please bear with me. I understand that fanny means mess around and waste time. Can someone suggest how I might make a sentence which uses fanny, as an ...
10
votes
3answers
8k views

Where does the word “wankers” come from?

The term wanker is derived from the verb wank in the sense of to masturbate. However, neither the OED nor Etymonline can trace it further back than that: both claim it is of “obscure origin”, which ...
10
votes
4answers
342 views

Is using “all” instead of “all used up” a regional thing?

My inlaws from Central Pennsylvania will say, "The milk is all" instead of "The milk is all gone". Another very common example, "Can you bring me some cookies?" "Sorry, the cookies are all". Anyone ...
10
votes
2answers
4k views

What is the etymology of “fanboi”?

In a recent Daring Fireball post, John Gruber wondered about the origin of "fanboi" as a spelling of "fanboy". I tried searching for this, but couldn't find anything definitive. Harry McCracken has ...
10
votes
3answers
4k views

Why do Aussies use “cactus” to mean “dead,” “useless,” or “broken”?

This bloody washing machine is cactus! Glossaries / dictionaries of Australian slang (like this one, and this one) list cactus as meaning "dead, useless, or broken." How did this usage come ...
10
votes
2answers
643 views

How would a phrase such as “Does the pope sh*t in the woods” be classified? The closest I can get is “intentional malapropism”.

How would phrases such as "Does the pope sh*t in the woods? Does a bear wear a funny hat?" be classified? The closest I can get is "intentional malapropism". Thanks for your help.
10
votes
3answers
747 views

Connotations of using “boy” by upper-class liberal Britons in beginning of 20th century

Could someone provide (ideally documented) evidence for the following details of the possible meanings/connotations of the word "boy" as used by a start-of-20th-century upper-class British person of ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

Use of “them” as an article, not a pronoun

I've seen a lot of times the pronoun them used like an article. For example, in the title of the Delta Rhythm Boys Them bones, or in the first sentence of "Money for nothing": Now look at them ...
10
votes
4answers
16k views

Origin of “for the birds” (Trivial; worthless; only of interest to gullible people.)

I really have looked, but the best I can come up with is this To say that something is "for the birds" is to call it horse manure. Dating from the days of horse-drawn traffic, the expression is ...
10
votes
3answers
14k 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
4k views

What is the etymology of “todger”?

What is the etymology of "todger"? My Concise OED is rather vague: ORIGIN 1950s: of unknown origin (also tadger) "Tadger" is just listed as a "Variant spelling of TODGER" Other references ...
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 ...
10
votes
2answers
361 views

Etymology of “ruggit”?

I did something stupid yesterday. "What a ruggit", I said to myself, meaning a stupid person. It occurred to me I hadn't heard the word for a while, so I looked it up, and found this source here ...
9
votes
4answers
3k views

Meaning and acceptability of “One fifty” when speaking of dollars

I was watching Errol Morris' ‘11 Excellent Reasons Not to Vote?’. At some point, the dialog goes this way: ― If I could sell my vote, I probably would. ― How much? ― How much? Psssh... ...
9
votes
5answers
4k views

Did they say “hand job” in the 1800s?

Did they say "hand job" in the 1800s? I was watching an episode of Deadwood, and they just said it. For example, from episode 6 "Plague": (Al enters the back room, Dolly is scrunched up on the ...