General English

Information & Library Science

  • noun words and expressions which are very informal and likely to change in meaning every so often

Media Studies

  • noun words, expressions and usages that are casual replacements for standard ones, are often short-lived and are usually considered unsuitable for formal contexts

Origin & History of “slang”

Slang is a mystery word. It first appeared in underworld argot of the mid-18th century. It had a range of meanings – ‘cant’, ‘nonsense’, ‘line of business’, and, as a verb, ‘defraud’. most of these have died out, but ‘cant’ is the lineal ancestor of the word’s modern meaning. It is not clear where it came from, although the use of the verb slang for ‘abuse’, and the expression slanging match ‘abusive argument’, suggest some connection with Norwegian dialect sleng- ‘offensive language’ (found only in compounds).