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This phrase was used to describe Donald Trump in an article in Salon magazine.

Donald Trump is a better politician than a lot of people give him credit for. Granted, he often has no idea what he’s talking about, he contradicts himself on the regular, he has a repellent personality, he’s a misogynist and a bigot, and it feels like he stumbled ass-backwards into the Republican presidential nomination.

According to multiple slang dictionaries, including Online Slang Dictionary, "on the regular" is well-established slang for "often," "frequently," or "routinely." It is mainstream enough to be found in reputable print journalism (see below for that).

regularly; frequently. Also on the reg.

Ex: I hit up that spot on the regular.

  • Online Slang Dictionary

Searching Ngram isn't very useful for this question because the phrase can be part of typically grammatical sentences, like "It wasn't on the regular menu."

Most of the anecdotal uses that I've been able to find have been within the last year or two, but I expect that it must have been a slang expression for longer than that in order to show up in the likes of Esquire and Rolling Stone.

Questions:

  • When did this phrase come into vogue?

  • Is it uniquely American slang, and did it originate with a specific region or culture?


To vouch for the legitimacy of this phrase and prove that this is a serious question, here are few uses from major print publications:

Although it's damn near impossible to wake up flawless like Beyoncé on the regular, it is possible to get pro concealing tips from her makeup artist

It doesn't matter whether you and your buddy from work go out for drinks on the regular and play on the same intramural co-ed after-work bowling team: You still shouldn't trust them to keep your secrets.

Understanding West Virginia has taken on a newfound relevance since the aftermath of the most recent Presidential election. The state has occupied an unlikely place at the center of American politics so far this century, inspiring thinkpieces on the regular every four years.

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    @marcellothearcane Can't say that I have either. It almost makes me cringe because it brings to mind the "-ly drop", e.g. "It was done regular" vs. "It was done regularly". – Dog Lover Jul 17 '17 at 7:30
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    @marcellothearcane See my comments below guys. It's an Americanized slang particularly from the African American community and the hip hop/rap subculture. Obviously it just means, "I do it regularly". I agree it's a horrible manifestation. A lot of times these things happen, I personally believe, across the entire world, not just America, especially in rap type genres/cultures b/c they are looking for rhyming type words and phrases. Not only that but it has become a part of that culture to invent new phrases as well. Hope this helps. – Kace36 Jul 18 '17 at 23:57
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    @Kace36 "Horrible"?? What's so bad about it. I rather like it. – Azor Ahai Jul 19 '17 at 16:37
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    @Kace36 It's a cool finding, but I find it rather rude to call a dialectical phrasing "horrible." What makes you think there are more euphemisms being coined nowadays vs 1917? – Azor Ahai Jul 19 '17 at 22:04
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    @Kace36 I'm not personally offended but thanks for apologizing. I was just curious if you had any data beyond anecdotes; I have no idea how much slang there was before 2000 :) – Azor Ahai Jul 19 '17 at 22:14
4
+50

Okay, so I've done some additional research and I've found even earlier usages of the phrase, on the regular.

The rapper "Defari" on his album, The Next Chapter, in 1995, on the song "Big Up" has this verse:

Link to Defari lyrics for the Big Up song

Verse 3: Lyrics are gold plus steel for the raw deal

Feel MC's and DJ's nuff respect y'all real

Low caps I rock on the regular

Brim covers my eyes so ducks can't see their predator

Facefirst when I disperse yet another verse

INTERESTING NOTE:

You can see how he is using the phrase in line 3 to rhyme with line 4, "see their predator".

ADDITIONAL FINDINGS

In 1996 there was a compilation album released by Interscope Records called Insomnia. It included a song called, On The Regular, by Duo. That song has various verses with the phrase: on the regular


HYPOTHESIS

I do remember hearing this term around the early to mid 90's in the US. I was around 20 or so at the time. Of course it's possible that it was used earlier than this but I think it's highly likely that it started around this time, with songs like these, as a result of trying to rhyme words in rap songs.

It's important to note that it became very common, and is even more so to this day, especially in African American and hip hop/rap culture, to create new phraseology and euphemisms. For one it helps create an identity (which is something the early rap culture - especially in the US - really wanted badly) along with the added value of allowing you to rhyme songs that would otherwise be nonsensical.

My position is that this is how we have come about many of the colloquialisms of today. This on the regular phrase is one but there are many, things like: "throw up a deuce" (to show a "peace" symbol), "roll a fatty (or blunt)" (talking about smoking pot), bling (jewelry), rims or 20's (nice wheels on a car), "gimme a 40" (pronounced "foe-tee") to mean 40oz beer (it was common in the "hood" or ghetto for people to buy 40oz alcoholic beverages). There are tons of these types of words and phrases and many variations. "I'm out" (leaving) comes from rap's early "Audi 5000 G", which just meant, "I'm outta hear guys". Audi 5000 was a popular and desired car by that culture at the time. It eventually morphed to simply "Audi" and then finally "out" or "outta" or "outtie".


FINAL THOUGHTS

So, basically, these words are a way to create identity within subcultures and they are also the mechanism to create rhymes for songs.

I would peg the origin of this particular phrase at around 1990-1995, probably occurring on the west coast and/or southern parts of the United States. Defari was a west coast [California] rapper at the time.

  • I enjoyed your thoughts, although I'd take issue with many of them. The "I'm out" association with Audi, seems particularly far fetched to me. I'd guess "I'm out" was used in poker perhaps even back to the late 1800's , and "Lets get out of here" far predated urban culture of the 1980s, or even the 1950s. "outta" is a completely normal and expectable contraction like 'would'a" 'could'a" and others. I'm sure sports announcers in the 1920s didn't always enunciate "out of" clearly when saying the ball is "out of bounds" even if they were careful to spell it better. – Tom22 Jul 20 '17 at 20:18
  • @Tom22 Perhaps I should reword that little section. I agree with you about some of those references. What I was getting at is that as a youngster the phrasing "Audi 5000 G" became popular in urban and rap culture America. It eventually morphed to just Audi. I agree they may have been borrowing it from already used versions of "outta here", etc. I just meant to show how the terms so common today, "I'm out", or , "outtie", are likely evolved from those early "Audi" references in "hood" America. But I should probably take a moment to clean it up, I agree. I'll do so later. Thx! – Kace36 Jul 20 '17 at 21:19
  • I was curious about this one... here is a great page with rap citations using the term therightrhymes.com/on-the-regular They show Ice-T using it in 1991 with lots of early rap citations fitting your memory. It was hard to find the first citation as most lyrics on the web do not include the phrase ohhla.com/anonymous/ice_t/og/th_tower.ict.txt – Tom22 Jul 21 '17 at 23:17
  • I'm not that familiar with Rap music but the uses I found don't look like forced rhymes ... although I can hear the rhythm of the word "regular" being fitting for a phrase end to the extent I understand the rhythmic conventions. I looked up a number of them (interesting how the lyrics aren't always consistent at the lyric sites) and none of them seem forced to me. Going through a number a few years after use the phrase mid sentence. I'm not sure that came from one isolated remix version Ice-T used. It was interesting looking it up and I do think fitting into rap is a plausible start – Tom22 Jul 21 '17 at 23:35
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The first use I can identify is from Dr. Dre's 1999 track Xxplosive on the album "2001":

Pimping bitches on the regular, I put that on the G

A hustler and a player, nowadays it pays to be

I can personally attest to having first heard this in use between 1999 and 2003 in the form of "hooking up on the reg". This was from white American musicians on the West Coast (Portland, Ore.) heavily influenced by hip-hop artists including Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.

-1

This thread is from July but I was just now looking up the phrase as it has exploded across my local demographic--middle aged white SF Bay Area folks-- in the last year or so. While some of us may be plugged into hip hop culture it seems like diffusion from younger people. Without knowledge of hip hop origins, it sounded to me pleasingly down home. Associated phrasing like "On the daily" is also heard, if less common.

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    Answers are expected to be substantial and to contain citations to documentation which support their argument. This kind of answer is below the standard of the site. Please edit accordingly. – Nigel J Nov 22 '17 at 4:14
  • Welcome to ELU. Please note this is not a discussion forum, but instead is a Q&A site. Anything typed in the Answer box must therefore answer the Question. What you've typed here doesn't answer when it came into vogue or what region/culture it originated in. – AndyT Nov 22 '17 at 10:01

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