Tag: slang


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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The language of Clueless

It’s the 20th anniversary of the now-classic movie Clueless! Twenty years — we’re totally bugging. And if you thought we’d let the day pass without a commemorative post, 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 […]

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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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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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New information on the origin of ‘twerk’ revealed in the OED

Twerking since 1820: an OED antedating

When the word twerk burst into the global vocabulary of English a few years ago with reference to a dance involving thrusting movements of the bottom and hips, most accounts of its origin pointed in the same direction, to the New Orleans ‘bounce’ music scene of the 1990s, and in particular to a 1993 recording […]

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Joe Dope - PM

Getting the dope on ‘dope’

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. Dope as a stupid person was early American slang, first recorded in 1851, according to current Oxford English Dictionary (OED) evidence.

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hipsters traveling

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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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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