The Origin of "Slang"

Discussion in 'English Only' started by colognial, Oct 28, 2013.

  1. colognial Senior Member

    Hi, everybody! The word slang has no known origin, according to the free online dictionary. Please see here:

    Furthermore, it evidently has no other meaning than the one generally known and given in the same reference.

    I suppose we might safely say the word itself constitutes a slang, except, it is so commonly used and yet is so unique, one may just as safely say it isn't a slang. Also, it is possible that someone somewhere can divulge information about the roots of this word. How would the native speakers choose to classify the word 'slang' as?

    Thank you!
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2013
  2. Florentia52

    Florentia52 Modwoman in the attic

    English - United States
    I disagree with your conclusion that a word must be considered slang if its origin is unknown and its meaning is "limited to the one generally known" and defined in a dictionary.
  3. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    You might try the Online Etymology Dictionary, if you haven't already, Colognial. It goes into more depth than the Free Dictionary.

    It is interesting that the word's origins are a bit murky, but that's not uncommon in English. There are so many possible root languages and words are often (though not always) changed pretty drastically from the root words. If we let every etymological mystery bother us, we'd spend a lot of time being bothered.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2013
  4. colognial Senior Member

    Thank you both! I learned quite a bit about the word through the Online Etymology Dictionary, even though the origin remained somewhat obscure. I'll just quote a bit from this particular entry for anyone who might be interested.
    slang (n.) [​IMG]
    1756, "special vocabulary of tramps or thieves," later "jargon of a particular profession" (1801), of uncertain origin, the usual guess being that it is from a Scandinavian source, cf. Norwegian slengenamn "nickname," slengja kjeften "to abuse with words,"...
  5. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
  6. colognial Senior Member

    I see, yes, you're quite right, sorry, and thanks!

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