Slang with its examples


Slang is the special language among people of the same trade or activity. Rodríguez (1999) defines the slang concept as a part of the lexicon subjected to a constant flow and formed by a cluster of living and picturesque expressions that characterize very different social and professional groups, especially when used for internal communication . Slang provides and reinforces social and group identity, but is also used in society in general to give an air of informality and relaxation to communication.

Slang is used by a group of individuals who have certain characteristics in common : it can be their job, their place of origin, their hobbies or their social class, to name a few possibilities. The terms usually arise when there is no specific translation of a concept and, over the years, can be incorporated into the general language.

 The term slang appears in the seventeenth century , at the time of the processes of the Coquillards. Primarily the slang designates the community of malefactors and beggars, the “Kingdom of Slang”, where criminals were confined. It seemed that slang would be made up of all those verbal manifestations of criminals themselves, and by extension, by the talk of economically low social strata, of the illiterate and illiterate. However, with the passage of time, this perspective suffers a turn by becoming legitimate social or group talks whose identity purposes assign them their own value within a larger linguistic system.

So only at the beginning is that the slang was identified only with the malefactors, the language of the underworld, the germany in Spain or the jobelin, narquin or jargon of the bands of highway robbers in France . Progressively within the jargon, linguistic forms used by different social groups –professions, trades or occupations– concur that legitimize their existence through the peculiarity of their verbal uses. They arise as a necessary instrument to defend and survive within a social group. Do not confuse slang with technical languages, despite the fact that certain argots have technicalities.


The purpose of the slang is to encode the message , so that it can only be understood by the social group that uses it, so that potential unwanted recipients cannot decode it, for this they use an informal language.


Slang is an incomplete, limited vocabulary, where only some new lexemes appear to make the phrase incomprehensible to those outside. It is an instrument of secondary and parasitic communication, which always requires the support of a common language, which further explains that slang cannot be international.

The changing character is one of the main characteristics of this phenomenon. The argots change from generation to generation and from city to city. There are words that change from one generation to the next and from place to place, although others seem to extend over the centuries.

The slang, as a social phenomenon, shows a great expressive wealth within the social groups in which it is accommodated, while allowing to create close linguistic links between its members and enables greater cohesion and identity in front of other external groups. Slang is characterized by terminological inequivalence that can occur in one language versus another, a reflection of the society that manages it. The slang is a reflection of the social groups in which it lives.

Slang examples

  • Button (for ‘police’ or ‘informant’ in popular jargon)
  • Marriage (that’s what they call a sausage and a black pudding on the grills)
  • Hung (by ‘misplaced’ or ‘distracted’ in teenage and youth jargon)
  • A male / a female (‘man’ and ‘woman’ in police jargon)
  • Roll (for ‘problem’ in Spanish youth jargon)
  • Sing (for ‘betraying’ in the jargon of criminals)
  • Donkey, donkey or camel (to refer to who carries drugs in the jargon of drug traffickers)
  • Cut it (by ” determine it ‘or’ stop insisting on something ‘in teenage and youth jargon)
  • Eaten bread: achieve something easily (Argentine popular jargon)
  • Guaso: town person, little used to the city (jargon of Chile)
  • Grosso: very good (teenage and youth jargon Argentina)
  • Choborra (by drunk, Argentine popular jargon)
  • Toned (for ‘tipsy’ for alcohol consumption, Argentine popular jargon)
  • Fifi: presumed, with tastes typical of the well-off social class (Argentine popular jargon).
  • Attach: face a problem (Argentine popular jargon)

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