I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy using slang. I think it’s fun and can really liven up conversations a bit, sometimes even making you feel or sound smarter! So what exactly is slang and what is it good for? Slang is a totally tubular way of communicating with the people in our life. How’s that for a definition? Sums it up nicely, I think but if you’d like the more boring, literal definition then Websters Dictionary defines slang as a language peculiar to a particular group of people; as well as, an informal nonstandard vocabulary composed typically of coinages, arbitrarily changed words, and extravagant, forced, or facetious figures of speech.
Slang has many uses, in all parts of your life. It can be words and phrases that are in popular usage by society at a point in time, inside jokes, the lingo used in your particular field of work, or even something of your very own unique creation used only among one or more of your friends. Pretty darn cool, dontcha think? One of the most significant reasons we use slang is as way of developing a camaraderie with others. When you think about it, what a really amazing way of developing connections with other people, then by the use of a unique, special language when speaking with one another. It really is a tie that bonds!
I can’t blog about slang without bringing up a time, I can vividly remember, when Alicia and I tried to use our own secret slang word and it kind of backfired on us. It happened back in our High School days, when we were avid readers of the now extinct, Teen Magazine. I took this magazine very seriously back then, thinking it was the be all end all leading expert on what it meant to be a hip & happening teenager! So, this meant I had a monthly subscription to the mag, and it was one of those things we would sit and flip through while lounging around my room, hanging out. This particular issue had an article about using slang words to talk in code around boys. Supposedly it would work in a way that you could secretly inform your BFF when you thought a certain boy you were with was super hot and he would be none the wiser. Of course, we felt this was a fantastic idea and couldn’t wait to try it out on a couple unsuspecting boys we hung out with. The article had a list of words they recommended we use, so we choose one we liked and waited for the perfect opportunity to try it out. The moment came, not long afterwards, when we were out with a couple of guys we both liked but were too chicken to tell them (We were both horribly shy and awkward in the boy department as teenagers). At the perfect opportune moment in the evening we let them know, “You guys are total Adonis‘!” What we thought was us being so sneaky, totally backfired on us. The boys looked at us in amazed delight because it turned out, while we had not been taught Greek Mythology at our school, they had at theirs. Either we hadn’t paid very close attention to the article, or it hadn’t quite clarified what an Adonis really was, but we had no clue that we had just called them the Greek god of beauty and desire! I think we were totally red in the face the rest of the night after that admission! Obviously, this wasn’t a case when using slang made us look smarter, but it is a BFF moment I won’t forget.
The best thing, which I find super cool, about slang is, like music and fashion, common everyday slang very often denotes a particular period in history which is very unique to that point in time. Some of my favorite slang from my childhood in the 80’s, are:
- “Grotty to the Max” (or Maxwell House, for added measure) = gross
- “Gag me with a Spoon” = that is so disgusting I could vomit
- Psych = not really or just kidding
- “Just joshing you” = kidding around
- That’s so cake! = awesome (my brother used this one A LOT)
- “Word to your Mother”, or simply “word” = I agree wholeheartedly with what you just said
What are some of your favorite slang words from childhood?