Tag: slang

Donald Trump speaks at the First in the Nation Leadership Summit in Nashua, NH, on April 18, 2015

Political profanity and crude creativity on the US Election campaign trail

As the snow starts to melt over here on the East Coast of the US following ‘Snowzilla’, thoughts are turning (and in the case of journalists, turned long ago) to the start of the primary season, when votes are cast to choose each party’s presidential nominee. It’s a complicated and sometimes very long process, beginning […]

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blackadder

How accurate was the sitcom Blackadder?

Blackadder is a character from a BBC TV period sitcom series which ran from 1983 to 1989, also named Blackadder. Each of the four series was set in a different historical period: the Middle Ages, Elizabethan age, Restoration, and First World War. Rumours of a fifth series have recently resurfaced in an interview with Tony […]

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Clueless

The language of Clueless

We’re totally bugging about Clueless, and if you thought we’d avoid celebrating this classic film, well, as if. Not only is Clueless adorable, funny, and way existential (okay, maybe not way existential), but some of its wittiest one-liners have taken on lives of their own. While writing the script, screenwriter/director Amy Heckerling spent time at Beverly […]

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interweb

Capturing the interweb of words: more notes on the OED update

‘Have you heard of this new inter-web thingy?’ one character sarcastically asks of another  in a quotation recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary’s new entry for Interweb. The humorous power of this self-consciously incorrect mashup of a word lies in the fact that for many of us in 2015, the World Wide Web is often […]

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sweets

Going sour: sweet words in slang

Slang—mocking, sneering, casting a jaundiced eye on the world’s proprieties—is by its nature sour. It finds approval hard, congratulation challenging, and affection almost impossible. Yet even if slang’s oldest meaning of “sugar” is money, and the second oldest a euphemism for the most common term for defecation, slang, for all its skepticism, cannot resist the […]

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A WWII era poster warning soldiers not to be dopes

The history of the word ‘dope’ and dope slang

Dope has lived a diverse slang life over the span of two centuries, only coming to its hip-hop adjectival sense of ‘good or excellent’ in the last 35 years. Fools and thick liquids Dope as a stupid person was early American slang, first recorded in 1851, according to current Oxford English Dictionary (OED) evidence. Usage […]

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The history of the word hip, which has led to words like hipster and hippie

The history of the word ‘hip’

James Brown was famously introduced by Lucas ‘Fats’ Gonder at the Apollo Theater in the early 1960s as ‘The Hardest Working Man in Show Business’, an epithet that stuck with Brown for his entire life. It is a fitting term for the word hip – the hardest working word in the lexicon of American slang. […]

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grunge

Grungespeak: the greatest language hoax of the 1990s

In honor of April Fools’ Day, we take a look back at one of the great language hoaxes of the past several decades. Back in 1992, ‘grunge’ was the next big thing in American culture. Nirvana’s 1991 album Nevermind had hit the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 chart, fashion designer Marc Jacobs had just […]

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