English Slang


As good as your textbooks are, chances are they devote very little attention to the use of informal words and expressions that are not considered standard in the English language. Yet, slang is everywhere and you need to be familiar with at least some of it to be able to fully understand and speak English. Slang expressions are usually particular to specific subcultures. For instance, the expression “up your sleeve” came from gambling and used to mean a powerful card that a player holds on to win a hand. Now, it refers to any hidden strength or unfair advantage. Another slang phrase, “go postal,” which means to be completely outraged, derives from the mass murder acts committed by the U.S. postal workers when they killed police, coworkers and supervisors. Some words and expressions we use on a daily basis once were slang, too, and then became so common that it’s hard to believe they were not always a part of normal, standard English speech. New York’s preferred schedule, 24/7, is one of those expressions. Slang is precise and descriptive. Don’t own any clothing save for that from Abercrombie & Fitch? Then don’t be surprised when your friends start calling you an Aberzombie.

If you are interested in learning more about modern urban lingo, you should definitely check out Urban Dictionary. The website is largely based on community collaboration so should you come up with a new expression you want everyone to use, you can go ahead and create a new entry. The website also has a blog which makes for a very fascinating read.

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