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vernacular vocabulary not generally acceptable in formal usage. It is notable for its liveliness, humor, emphasis, brevity, novelty, and exaggeration. Most slang is faddish and ephemeral, but some words are retained for long periods and eventually become part of the standard language (e.g., phony, blizzard, movie). On the scale used to indicate a word's status in the language, slang ranks third behind standard and colloquial (or informal) and before cant. Slang often conveys an acerbic, even offensive, no-nonsense attitude and lends itself to poking fun at pretentiousness. Frequently grotesque and fantastic, it is usually spoken with intent to produce a startling or original effect. It is especially well developed in the speaking vocabularies of cultured, sophisticated, linguistically rich languages. The first dictionary of English slang is said to be Thomas Harman's A Caveat or Warening for Commen Cursetors, published in 1567.

Characteristically individual, slang often incorporates elements of the jargons of special-interest groups (e.g., professional, sport, regional, criminal, drug, and sexual subcultures). Slang words often come from foreign languages or are of a regional nature. Slang is very old, and the reasons for its development have been much investigated. The following is a small sample of American slang descriptive of a broad range of subjects: of madness—loony, nuts, psycho; of crime—heist, gat, hit, heat, grifter; of women—babe, chick, squeeze, skirt; of men—dude, hombre, hunk; of drunkenness—sloshed, plastered, stewed, looped, trashed, smashed; of drugs—horse, high, stoned, tripping; of caressing—neck, fool around, make out; of states of mind—uptight, wired, mellow, laid back; the verb to go—scram, split, scoot, tip; miscellaneous phrases—you push his buttons, get it together, chill, she does her number, he does his thing, what's her story, I'm not into that.


See H. L. Mencken, The American Language (3 vol., 1936–48); P. Farb, Word Play (1973); J. Green, The Dictionary of Contemporary Slang (1985) and Green's Dictionary of Slang (3 vol., 2011); R. Chapman, Thesaurus of American Slang (1989); E. Partridge, A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (1990); J. E. Lighter, ed., Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang (A–G, 1994, H–O, 1997); Bodleian Library, ed., The First English Dictionary of Slang, 1699 (2010); J. Coleman, The Life of Slang (2012).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



expressively and emotionally colored vocabulary used in colloquial speech and deviating from the accepted norm of the literary language. The Russian word sleng, which is taken from the English word “slang,” is most often applied to the English language as spoken in England and the USA.

Slang is used chiefly by students, military personnel, and young workers. Because slang undergoes frequent changes, whole generations can be identified by the slang that they use. Slang is easily incorporated into the literary language and can be used in literature as a way of describing characters and establishing a distinct voice for the author. This can be seen in Soviet literature in works by F. I. Panferov, F. V. Gladkov, I. E. Babel’, I. Il’f and E. Petrov, and V. Aksenov and in works by C. Dickens, W. Thackeray, J. Galsworthy, T. Dreiser, J. D. Salinger, and other British and American writers. The word “slang” is a partial synonym for the terms “argot” and “jargon.”


Gal’perin, I. R. “O termine ‘sleng.’” Voprosy iazykoznaniia, 1956, no. 6. (Bibliography.)
Shveitser, A. D. “Nekotorye aktual’nye problemy sotsiolingvistiki.” Inostrannye iazyki v shkole, 1969, no. 3. (Bibliography.)
Skvortsov, L. I. “Ob otsenkakh iazyka molodezhi.” Voprosy kul’tury rechi, 1964, issue 5. (Bibliography.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


R.A. Sibley. CACM 4(1):75-84 (Jan 1961).


Set LANGuage. Jastrzebowski, ca 1990. C extension with set-theoretic data types and garbage collection. "The SLANG Programming Language Reference Manual, Version 3.3", W. Jastrzebowski <>, 1990.


Structured LANGuage. Michael Kessler, IBM. A language based on structured programming macros for IBM 370 assembly language. "Project RMAG: SLANG (Structured Language) Compiler", R.A. Magnuson, NIH-DCRT-DMB-SSS-UG105, NIH, DHEW, Bethesda, MD 20205 (1980).


"SLANG: A Problem Solving Language for Continuous-Model Simulation and Optimisation", J.M. Thames, Proc 24th ACM Natl Conf 1969.
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Using acronyms as a shorthand for phrases in email, instant messages, texting and chat sessions; for example, BTW for "by the way" and IMHO for "in my humble opinion." The acronyms have turned into a new language, also called "techspeak," "textspeak," "geekspeak," "Internet speak," "Webspeak" and "IMglish." For people who cannot type fast and hunt and peck every letter, these acronyms are a blessing. Following are some popular examples. See leetspeak and alphanumerish.

 .02        My two cents worth.
 <3         Sideways heart (I love you).

 ADIP       Another day in paradise.
 AFAIK      As far as I know.
 AFK        Away from keyboard.
 A/S/L      Age, sex, location.
 ASIG       And so it goes.
 ATM        At the moment.
 AWGTHTGTTA Are we going to have to go
             through this again.
 AYS        Are you serious?
 AYT        Are you there?

 B4N        Bye for now.
 BAK        Back at keyboard.
 BBL        Be back later.
 BFF        Best friend forever.
 BFN        Bye for now.
 BLNT       Better luck next time.
 BM&Y       Between me and you.
 BME        Based on my experience.
 BRB        Be right back.
 BTDT       Been there, done that.
 BTW        By the way.
 BWL        Bursting with laughter.

 CMIIW      Correct me if I'm wrong.
 CRBT       Crying really big tears.
 CTN        Can't talk now.
 CU         See you.
 CUL        See you later.
 CWYL       Chat with you later.
 CYA        See ya.

 DETI       Don't even think it.
 DILLIGAF   Do I look like I give a f***
 DQMOT      Don't quote me on this.
 DUR        Do you remember?
 DYJHIW     Don't you just hate it when..

 EBCAK      Error between
             chair and keyboard.
 EBKAC      Error between
             keyboard and chair.
 EMFBI      Excuse me for butting in.
 EWG        Evil wicked grin.

 F2F        Face to face.
 FCOL       For crying out loud.
 FOAF       Friend of a friend.
 FUBAR      Fouled up beyond all recognition.
 FWIW       For what it's worth.
 FYEO       For your eyes only.
 FYI        For your information.

 GAL        Get a life.
 GD&R       Grinning, ducking and running.
 GMTA       Great minds think alike.
 GR8        Great.
 GTG        Got to go.

 HB         Hurry back.
 HBU        How about you?
 HHOK       Ha, ha, only kidding.
 HODL       I am hodling (holding).
 HTH        Hope this helps.

 IANAL      I am not a laywer, but...
 IAW        In accordance with.
 IDK        I don't know.
 IIRC       If I recall correctly.
 ILY        I love you.
 IMCO       In my considered opinion.
 IMHO       In my humble opinion.
 IMO        In my opinion.
 IOW        In other words.
 IRL        In real life.

 JFF        Just for fun.
 JK         Just kidding.
 JOOTT      Just one of those things.
 JW         Just wondering.

 KIA        Know-it-all.
 KIT        Keep in touch.
 KK         Okay, all right.
 KNIM       Know what I mean.
 KPC        Keeping parents clueless.

 L8R        Later.
 LMAO       Laughing my ass off.
 LD         Later dude.
 LOL        Laughing out loud;
             Lots of luck.
 LMIRL      Let's meet in real life.
 LULz       Lots of laughs.
 LY         Love ya.
 LYLAS      Love ya like a sister.

 MEH        I fell so-so.
 MGB        May God bless.
 MOO        My own opinion.
 MNC        Mother nature calls.
 MWA        A kiss (the sound of "mwa.")
 MYOB       Mind your own business.

 N2M        Not too much.
 NALOPKT    Not a lot of people know this.
 NIGI       Now I get it.
 NIH        Not invented here.
 NM         Nothing much.
 NOOB       Beginner (see  newbie).
 NP         No problem.
 NTMY       Nice to meet you.
 NVM        Never mind.
 NW         No way.

 OIC        Oh, I see.
 OMG        Oh my God!
 OMW        On my way.
 OOH        Out of here.
 OOO        Out of office.
 OTFL       On the floor laughing.
 OTOH       On the other hand.
 OTP        On the phone.

 PAL        Parents are listening.
 PEBCAK     Problem exists between
             chair and keyboard.
 PEBKAC     Problem exists between
             keyboard and chair.
 PIR        Parents in room.
 PITA       Pain in the ass.
 PLBCAK     Problem lies between
             chair and keyboard.
 PLBKAC     Problem lies between
             keyboard and chair.
 PMJI       Pardon my jumping in.
 PMO        Piss me off.
 POS        Parent over shoulder.
 POTATO     Person over 30 acting 21.
 PRW        Parents are watching.
 PTG&LI     Playing the game & loving it.

 RBAY       Right back at you.
 RHIP       Rank has its privileges.
 RL         Real life.
 ROFL       Rolling on floor laughing.
 ROFLMAO    ROF, laughing my ass off.
 RT         Real talk.  Being honest.
 RTFM       Read the f***ing Manual (see  RTFM).
 RUOK       Are you OK?

 SC         Stay cool.
 SFAIK      So far as I know.
 SIT        Stay in touch.
 STFU       Shut the f*** up!
 SUP        What's up?
 SWL        Screaming with laughter.
 SYS        See you soon.

 TANSTAAFL  There ain't no such thing 
             as a free lunch.
 THX        Thanks.
 TIA        Thanks in advance.
 TLDR       Too long, didn't read.
 TMTH       Too much to handle.
 TTFN       Ta, ta for now (goodbye).
 TTT        Thought that too.
 TTYL       Talk to you later.
 TTYS       Talk to you soon.
 TU         Thank you.
 TY         Thank you.

 UCMU       You crack me up.
 UDM        You da man.
 UOK        Are you OK?
 U2U        Up to you.
 URTM       You are the man.
 UTM        You tell me.

 VBS        Very big smile.

 WFM        Works for me.
 WTG        Way to go.
 WUF        Where are you from?
 WYHAM      When you have a minute.
 WWJD       What would Jesus do?
 WWNC       Will wonders never cease.

 XLNT       Excellent.
 XME        Excuse me.

 YGTBKM     You've got to be kidding me.
 YMMV       Your mileage may vary.
 YNK        You never know.
 YOLO       You only live once.
 YT         You there?
 YW         You're welcome.
 YWSYLS     You win some, you lose some.

 ZUP        What's up?
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References in classic literature ?
"Aha, Miss Rosy, you don't know Homer from slang. I shall invent a new game; I shall write bits of slang and poetry on slips, and give them to you to separate."
"There, my hearties (you like sea slang, so I'll give you a bit) now, I want you to promise not to read any more stuff for a month, and I'll agree to supply you with wholesome fare."
"It isn't Bill, it's Billina; and you're talking slang, which is very undig'n'fied," said Dorothy, reprovingly.
"Jo does use such slang words!" observed Amy, with a reproving look at the long figure stretched on the rug.
"We reckoned--that is--we intended to meet you and the young ladies at the grade," said Fairfax, reddening a little as he endeavored to conceal his too ready slang, "and save you from trapesing--from dragging yourselves up grade again to your house."