Questions tagged [slang]

Questions about “Language of a highly colloquial type, considered as below the level of standard educated speech, and consisting either of new words or of current words employed in some special sense.” [OED: 𝒔𝒍𝒂𝒏𝒈]

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181
votes
6answers
31k views

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 ...
120
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7answers
15k views

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 ...
116
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11answers
45k views

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.
92
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20answers
557k views

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?
91
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3answers
44k views

Why does “Mickey Mouse Operation” refer to a poorly run company?

A phrase I commonly hear (and use myself) when a company (or individual, in some cases) does something that seems foolish or not planned is to ask What kind of Mickey Mouse operation are you ...
90
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5answers
51k views

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. ...
75
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5answers
19k views

What is “ass door”?

I'm not English speaking, I understand the joke but say please what is "ass door"? Is it the same as butt door? Didn't find it in the dictionary.
65
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22answers
22k views

Is there an idiom or typical expression for an unfunny joke? [closed]

Could you tell me some 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 ...
61
votes
2answers
7k views

What did “pop a cap” mean, other than “shoot someone,” in the 19th century?

Popping a cap Green's Dictionary of Slang defines "pop a cap" as: to fire a weapon; to shoot someone. In recent uses, the slang meaning is clear, and often extended to "pop a cap (in somebody's ...
56
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5answers
43k views

“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 ...
47
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11answers
14k views

What does “Wine! Because you never got a pony” mean?

The term Wine! Because you never got a pony appeared in a meme on my social media. My first reaction was to question if there was a spelling mistake, i.e. Whine! Because you never got a pony would ...
45
votes
1answer
9k views

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 ...
44
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3answers
10k views

Adding “dot com” to the end of a sentence?

Overheard this one while I was getting my hair cut. The two ladies were arguing about whether or not a given shampoo was appropriate for a customer that had just left. Something about the customer's ...
44
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6answers
96k views

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 ...
43
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11answers
13k views

When did “a buck” start being used to mean a unit of 100? (E.g. “a buck fifty” for 150 lbs.)

Before you answer, please note: I'm only interested in when this usage was established in common (American) parlance. I know what the term means and I don't need it defined, nor do I require an ...
39
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6answers
9k views

The intensifier 'pure D': where and when did it originate, and what does the D stand for?

A posting in my Facebook timeline today began "I've been sorting boxes of Pure D-Crap." The poster was writing from Alameda, California (near San Francisco). It struck me that I hadn't heard "pure D" ...
39
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6answers
12k views

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 "...
38
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5answers
5k views

Clinton's “wonky”

Until today I would have said that wonky means to be unstable, a word similar to wobbly. Any piece of furniture on legs can be wonky, it usually means one of the legs is slighter shorter than the ...
38
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8answers
9k views

Why “job” in “nut job”

Why are crazy people called nut jobs? Why are they called a job? Wiktionary is of no help here.
37
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7answers
17k 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 ...
37
votes
10answers
841k views

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?
37
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4answers
5k views

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 ...
35
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2answers
2k views

unknown usage of verb “pit”

I've checked major online dictionaries to get this clarified but have had no luck so far. What does to "pit a car" mean? Example sentence: Pitting a car in a residential area is really dangerous. ...
34
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28answers
18k 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 (“...
34
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13answers
59k views

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 ...
33
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3answers
5k views

Why is it “take a leak?”

Why is the sometimes-used expression to urinate "take a leak" or "take a piss", instead of "give a leak" or "give a piss". I looked it up using a search engine, and didn't find any good answers.
33
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5answers
38k views

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 ...
32
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4answers
8k views

Origin of “queer as a clockwork orange”

While reading a recent Ken Follet novel, I came across the following, spoken in a gay bar set in early sixties London: "I am queer as a clockwork orange, a three-pound note, a purple unicorn, or a ...
32
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3answers
3k views

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 of ...
30
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3answers
16k views

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 ...
29
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7answers
11k views

How popular is the slang usage of “toss” in British English?

We've already chosen the domain name for a new info blog website called InfoToss. In US English, it doesn’t have any crazy slang meaning, and we didn’t think to check for other regional meanings ...
29
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7answers
8k 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, ...
27
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5answers
5k views

What is the word for reserving something for yourself before others do? [duplicate]

In English-speaking TV shows, characters sometimes say something similar to dips to say to other people they are taking something for themselves before others do. Neither Google, Wiktionary or Urban ...
27
votes
7answers
2k views

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. ...
27
votes
4answers
9k views

What does “number f**king ten” mean?

I was watching "Casualties of War" today. One of the characters, a soldier, interrogates a suspected VC (Viet-Cong) old man by asking him "Are you VC? Number fucking ten?" Is "number fucking 10" ...
27
votes
4answers
73k views

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 ...
26
votes
3answers
12k views

Meaning of “bully” in the 1800s

What did "bully" mean in the 1800s? When describing how good his field is, a young man wrote: My buckwheat looks first-rate, and the oats and potatoes are bully. Source: Harper's Weekly, ...
26
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10answers
19k views

Why does “big cheese” mean someone important?

This is one of those common phrases that I have never really questioned until now. According to the free dictionary, "Big cheese" means an "important person". But what on earth does "cheese" have ...
25
votes
4answers
310k views

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"?
25
votes
5answers
6k 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..."?
25
votes
8answers
6k views

What's the English equivalent for the Italian slang expression “magna magna”

"Magna magna" is a typical Italian slang expression used by common people to give vent to their frustrations and disappointment with politicians when cases of corruption and personal interest in ...
25
votes
4answers
90k views

What exactly is “I'mma?”

When I chat, I'll sometimes hear "I'mma ..." as in: "I'mma go now" or "I'mma open that for you" I am not sure how it's written, I have never gotten a precise answer when I've asked. Where does ...
25
votes
10answers
49k views

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 ...
25
votes
4answers
98k views

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"?
24
votes
5answers
107k views

Etymology of “Buff” and “Nerf” as used in video-game slang

In video games, when the makers increase the power of something, it is sometimes referred to as a buff. If they decrease the power of something, it is called a nerf or a de-buff. This also applies ...
24
votes
2answers
492 views

What is the meaning of “Can I have a slice?” In NYC?

I spent the day yesterday with some friends in Manhattan. We were in a food commons area of a mall and had just started to eat a pizza when a couple of college age guys stopped at our table and one of ...
23
votes
5answers
10k views

What is the word that we use to call a father who is the main earner in the family?

In Asian families, usually the father is the person who goes to work and earns money in order to feed the family, and the mother is a housewife who usually cooks meals, cleans the house, and washes ...
23
votes
10answers
4k views

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 ...
23
votes
7answers
78k views

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 ...
23
votes
7answers
62k views

Origins of the gaming term “cheese strategy”

In a gaming scene the word cheese is used to describe strategies or ways of playing that are really powerful and do not require much skill from the players side at the same time. The term is widely ...