Native speaker (American English): I say "slash" out loud sometimes in place of "and" or "or," and an example sentence that is natural in my idiolect is "When slash where will this take place." Does anyone else do this? Is this regional/generational/demographic group-specific in any way?

(In case it's relevant: I'm from New York City, currently living in Virginia, and I'm a Gen Z person.)

1 Answer 1


Green’s Dictionary of Slang provides usage examples from 2014. Its usage in spoken language most likely predates that date.

slash preposition: (US) the spoken version of the graphic symbol / used to connect two phrases.

  • 2014 [US] C. Eble UNC-CH Campus Sl. Spring 2014 13: SLASH — spoken version of the graphic / to connect any two phrases: ‘Are you making cookies slash call me when you’re done.’ ‘I need to study slash I don’t want to get off of Facebook’.
  • 2019 D. Jenkins Reunion 16: [T]he blond quarterback-slash-surfer, Shea Luckett.

The Grammarphobia offers an interesting analysis about the informal usage of slash:

The Oxford Guide to Style says the most common use for the symbol is “as shorthand to denote alternatives,” but adds that the symbol is “sometimes misused for and rather than or.”

Most standard dictionaries don’t recognize this use of the term—or, for that matter, this use of the symbol itself. An exception is The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.).

American Heritage describes a “slash” as either a symbol used in the traditional way or an informal conjunction (represented by word or symbol) meaning “as well as” or “and.”

The dictionary gives these examples of the conjunction: “an actor-slash-writer; a waiter/dancer.” It adds that the symbol is often used in print.

We suspect that the appearance of “slash” in American Heritage is a sign of things to come. In fact, the usage isn’t all that new. The word has been used this way for more than a dozen years.

The linguist Brett Reynolds, who blogs about language at English, Jack, has found a couple of examples from the 1990s.

  • This one is from the Sept. 28, 1992, issue of Time magazine: “Meet urban planner Campbell Scott (‘a realist slash dreamer’).” And this one is from the script for the 1999 movie Mumford: “sexual surrogate slash companion.”

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