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 contradictory results. The Urban Dictionary provides a whopping 73 "explanations", of which I will quote just a few. (Original spelling and punctuation ...
111
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10answers
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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.
110
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7answers
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What’s a “handegg”?

What’s a handegg? NOTE: This question is primarily related to the etymology of a compound noun which is not in The Dictionary. There is a hat this year called “Handegg”, given out for a posting that ...
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20answers
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Which expressions can be used to close an email? [closed]

At the end of written communication like emails and letters, it is customary to use a closing valediction or "complementary close". Which formal and informal expressions can be used to end emails?
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5answers
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What does 'TL;DR' mean and how is it used?

I do my best, at my advanced age, to come to grips with the apparent acceptability of such widely used words/expressions/abbreviations as lol/LOL, IMHO, AFAIK, etc. However, TLDR/tl;dr defeats me. ...
49
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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 ...
46
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1answer
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How did “s***” and “the s***” come to mean opposite things?

Your idea is shit Your idea is bad. Your idea is the shit Your idea is good. The same does not apply to "the crap" or "the poop", or other profanity like "the fuck". I can think of examples ...
42
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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 ...
36
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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.
35
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7answers
10k 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 ...
32
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6answers
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Etymology of a “pegged CPU”

There's a slightly obscure, slang meaning in tech circles of the word "pegged" as it relates to a computer's CPU. When it is fully utilised for a duration (at least several seconds), you can say that "...
32
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4answers
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Did the English call a fruit “openærs” for 700 years?

There is a small apple-tasting fruit called medlar in English. It looks like a cross between an apple and a rosehip. It has two main curious features: first the fruit must be bletted before it can ...
32
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3answers
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Did “courage to work” used to mean “must be willing to stay sober during working hours”?

I found this picture of a casting call from the 1960s, for the TV show and musical legend that eventually became known as "the Monkees": The phrase I'm asking about is "Courage to work". A friend ...
31
votes
27answers
12k views

Derogatory term for a corporate employee

I’m looking for a derogatory term for a person who works in a big, international business. In Polish we have a few informal words for that, like korpoludek (“corpo little guy”) and korpoczłowiek (“...
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18answers
7k views

Is there an idiom or typical expression for an unfunny joke?

Could you tell me suitable idioms to express this situation; A guy told you a joke, but it's not funny at all. In Japanese, we say "He slipped." or "His joke was so cold that the air got ...
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13answers
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Is there a slang word or idiom for someone who borrows money from friends or relatives and never (or rarely) pays them back?

Edit - My question doesn't refer to bank loans or credit card accounts. Nor does it refer to getting things out of other people's generosity. It is specifically about money and the putative duplicate ...
29
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7answers
5k views

How did “stuck-up” get to mean “snob”?

I was inclined to believe that the expression "stuck-up", meaning staying aloof from others because one thinks one is superior, had its origins with somebody's nose stuck (up) in the air and yet, ...
28
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3answers
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What word can I use instead of “tomorrow” that is not connected with the idea of the rising sun?

I'm working on a novel while trying to take into account the historical context surrounding it. It begins in 1140 AD, so the characters would use Old English, Latin, Old French, and other similar ...
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5answers
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Where do “shenanigans” come from?

Shenanigans, or shenanigan, also with several variant spellings, can be dated to 1855 USA in both the OED and Etymonline, but the OED simply says "Origin obscure" and Etymonline throws a few guesses ...
24
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6answers
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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. ...
23
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4answers
2k views

Should “ya” have an apostrophe? “Doin”? Etc

"How ya doin?" v. "How ya' doin'?" and so on. There's... a debate.
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1answer
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BrEng: “pull your finger out”, “cock up” and “stuff it” What do they mean?

In the British sitcom, The Thin Blue Line, Detective Grim makes three intelligently crafted sentences, which are given below. What do they mean? It's my arse on the line, so you better pull your ...
23
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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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10answers
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Derogatory term for electronic device

In German, the term "Kiste", literally meaning "box", is often used as a colloquial derogatory term for electronic and mechanical devices. It is comparable to "jalopy", which, however, seems to be ...
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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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9answers
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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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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 ...
21
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4answers
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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"?
21
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11answers
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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 workplace ...
21
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5answers
4k views

“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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9answers
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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 ...
21
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7answers
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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. ...
20
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10answers
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What is an appropriate response to “what's up” greeting?

Sorry if it's a trivial question, but when someone uses what's up as a greeting I have no idea what they want to hear. What are the possible answers and what does this question mean exactly?
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5answers
4k views

Difference between “retro” and “vintage”

What's the difference between retro and vintage? (or antique for that matter)
19
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5answers
7k views

“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 ...
19
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4answers
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Is “how come” slang?

Sample Conversation: A: How are you? B: I am mad. A: How come? I thought that how come was a logical word choice but upon speaking with somebody for whom English is a second language, ...
19
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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, Nymphadora Tonks, greets Harry by saying "Wotcher, Harry". What is "Wotcher"?
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4answers
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How nutty are the terms “nut case”, “health nut” and “sports nut”?

If someone is nuts about something/someone it means they are a very enthusiastic— sometimes bordering on obsessive—devotee of that particular thing or person. To be nuts is a colloquial term meaning ...
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4answers
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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 ...
19
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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 ...
19
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3answers
2k 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 ...
18
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13answers
58k views

Is there a male equivalent of 'bitch'?

While I know you can attribute 'bitch' to a male, I feel there is a sense of femininity. I was wondering if there is a colloquial equivalent that describes someone with the qualities of a 'bitch' ...
18
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3answers
6k views

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 ...
18
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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.
18
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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?
18
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5answers
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Why does “klick” mean kilometer in US military slang?

Wiktionary says it is either likely a pseudo-condensed pronunciation of kilometer or onomatopoeic of the sound of a military odometer. Though kilometers are not commonly used to measure distance ...
18
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2answers
1k views

Did ‘alakazam’ magically appear out of the thin air?

I doubt it. But when did alakazam enter English, where did it come from, and who first used it? I vaguely recall the TV magic show The Magic Land of Allakazam (1960–1964) from my Texas childhood, and ...
17
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3answers
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What does “balls” mean as a reply word or interjection?

Here’s a question again in Jeffery Archer’s The Prodigal Daughter. Richard (husband of Florentina Kane, the heroine of the novel) finds in The Wall Street Journal that Jake Thomas, chairman of Lester’...
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4answers
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Why doesn't it go like “him and his wife”?

Please take a look at this excerpt from The Catcher in the Rye: I think I probably woke he and his wife up, because it took them a helluva long time to answer the phone. This phrase confused me. ...
17
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7answers
4k views

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 ...