If you’re learning about attitudes to slang for English Language GCSE, here are some interesting examples of recent slang, from 2013 and 2014. Get a slang transcript here.

How is slang invented?

  1. words are borrowed from other languages, like ’emoji’ from Japanese.
  2. new words are created from bits of other words, like ‘wackadoodle’, from ‘wacky’ and ‘cockadoodle’
  3. nouns become verbs, as in ‘to google’, ‘to friend’, as in ‘I’ll friend you on Facebook’, or ‘message me’ from the noun ‘a message’
  4. abbreviations become words, as in LOL (laugh out loud)
  5. two words are squashed together (elision), as in ‘innit’ from ‘isn’t it’
  6. words are shortened, as in ‘diss’ (for ‘to disrespect’), ‘wellies’ from ‘Wellington boots’
  7. adding a new prefix or suffix to an existing word, as in ‘Hipster’, ’empowering’ (from ‘power’), ‘demotivated’.
  8. new inventions need new names, e.g. ‘Bitcoin’, ‘selfie’
  9. metaphors, e.g. ‘gutted’ (not literally having your guts ripped out, but feeling as if you did); ‘knackered’ (not literally being an old worn out horse sent to be killed, but feeling like one).

Examples of Slang now Widely Accepted
  • emoticon vs emoji (noun)  portmanteau ‘emotion’ ‘icon’ vs Japanese e (picture) moji (character) also pictogram, ideogram, smileys. The pictorial versions were first used in 1999.
  • to friend someone. This is a noun to a verb, as in Shakespeare: mud > muddied
  • 2013 dappy (adj) – silly, disorganized, or lacking concentration
  • 2013 FOMO (abbrev) fear of missing out, YOLO you only live once, LOL laugh out loud > from text
  • 2013 selfie (noun)- self portrait photo
  • 2013 bitcoin (noun) – a unit of digital currency, also the generic term for this digital currency
  • to google (verb from trade name Google), as in to hoover (v) from Hoover (brand)
  • to message (verb from noun ‘message’)
  • to tweet (verb from Twitter)
  • to post (verb, new meaning: post online)
  • 2014 demotivated (adj. prefix de- )
  • 2014 empowering (abstract noun from verb empower, em- power (noun))
  • 2014 sciency (adj from noun ‘science’)
  • 2014 wackadoodle (noun and adj) – a crazy but fun person
  • Hipster
Less Accepted Slang
  • innit, dunno
  • like – as a filler
  • sick – good
  • epic – very good
  • cool – okay, that’s good – back-channelling
  • y’know – as a filler or as back-channelling
  • bro (n) – elision, synthetic personalization
  • blood (n) – good friend
  • man (n) – synthetic personalization
  • diss (v) – elision for ‘disrespect’
  • bomb (v) – the film bombed, also bomb (n) that is the bomb
  • knackered (adj.) – tired out, from knacker – place old horses are sent to be killed
  • gutted (adj.) – very upset, cf. having your guts ripped out
  • khazi (noun) – toilet, from Zulu or Swahili
  • kip (noun) – a short sleep
  • naff (adj.) – uncool
  • peanuts (noun) – cheap, low price, e.g. ‘That job paid peanuts’ – from the phrase ‘if you pay peanuts you get monkeys’
  • wellies (noun) – wellington boots
  • mac (noun) – raincoat, abbrev. from the brand ‘Mackintosh’