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Slang

English Slang

Slang is a kind of language consisting of very informal words and phrases. Slang is more common in speech than in writing. Slang words are often used in a particular context or by a particular group of people.

Slang words and phrases in English

Slang is a type of language consisting of words and phrases that:

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- are considered to be very informal
- are more common in speech than in writing
- are typically restricted to a particular group of people or context

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Quizzes (270)

Slang of the Day Slang Quizzes: Have fun and test your knowledge of English Slang by doing some of our 270 English Slang Quiz Questions

Slang may be all things to all people. According to the American poet Carl Sandburg (1878-1967), slang is "language which takes off its coat, spits on its hands - and goes to work." The Concise Oxford Dictionary is more prosaic: "words, phrases, and uses that are regarded as very informal and are often restricted to special contexts or are peculiar to a specified profession, class, etc (racing slang; schoolboy slang)."

The problem for learners of English is to know when or when not to use slang. Many people condemn slang, but in fact we all use it. The trick is to use slang in the right context. For the learner, perhaps the first thing to remember is that slang is normally spoken, not written. The second thing is that you may wish to learn slang so that you can understand it when you hear it, but not necessarily to use it.

The origin of the word "slang" is unknown.

Offensive slangOffensive slang
These words should be used with care. Although they are not particularly "hot", they can be offensive to the person they are applied to. For example, if you call somebody an "airhead", that person could be insulted although anybody listening would not be shocked.

Vulgar slangVulgar slang
Vulgar slang words should be used with extreme care. In general we recommend that non-native speakers do not use this language. If used inappropriately, you could easily shock both the person you are talking to and anyone listening. You could cause resentment and anger.

Taboo slangTaboo slang
In general, taboo words are the most shocking in the language and should be avoided. We recommend that non-native speakers do not use this language. As with vulgar slang, you could easily shock both the person you are talking to and anyone listening. You could cause extreme resentment and anger, with unpredictable results.

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Offensive slangOffensive slang
Vulgar slangVulgar slang
Taboo slangTaboo slang
American English slang American slang
American and Australian slang American and Australian slang
British English slang British slang
British and Australian slang British and Australian slang
Australian English slang Australian slang

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