Tag: slang

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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darts_large

Diddle for the middle: the language of darts

Darts in its current form was developed at the end of the 19th century and by the start of the 20th century it was a popular pub game, its success boosted by a 1908 court ruling that held that darts was a game of skill rather than chance and could therefore be played without breaking […]

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prison

The prison slang of The Shawshank Redemption

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption, the prison drama following the lives of prisoners Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) and Ellis “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman). Overshadowed by Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction in the year of its release, the film has demonstrated an incredible staying power over the past […]

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beer bottles

Suds or brewskis? American beer slang

What goes best with the crunchy leaves and azure skies of early fall? Beer, of course! Though this year’s Oktoberfest unfortunately came to an end yesterday in Munich, we’re not ready to stop talking about beer. After checking out our map of European beers, you might be interested to know what beer culture is like on the […]

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money coins

How did bread, cheese, and dough come to mean money?

Back in the day, the hip-hop duo OutKast released a song called “Aquemini” that goes: Street scholars that’s majoring in culinary arts, you know, how to work the bread, cheese, and dough from scratch This is a little André wordplay, talking about hustlers out to earn their pay. When I heard this and clocked the […]

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90s language

Achy-breaky words: the language of the nineties

Though they’re well over a decade past, the nineties occupy an unusual place in the cultural zeitgeist. A whole new decade has come and gone since, and yet popular culture still has yet to decide what precisely the nineties were “about”. For better or for worse, many of the decades preceding the nineties have their […]

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William Hogarth

Eighteenth-century soldiers’ slang: “Hot Stuff” and the British Army

Britain’s soldiers were singing about hot stuff more than 200 years before Donna Summer released her hit song of the same name in 1979. The true origins of martial ballads are often difficult to ascertain, but a song entitled ‘Hot Stuff’ can be found in print by 1774. The 5 May edition of Rivington’s New York Gazetteer […]

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How Bill Murray changed the English language

Bill Murray in the OED

When the Ghostbusters film was released in the mid-1980s it gave us many things: an earworm of a theme tune, an ideal group fancy dress costume, and a chance to appreciate Bill Murray’s wonderfully deadpan delivery of some classic lines. But who would have thought that one of these lines would have such an impact […]

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