Today: Origins Of Slang, Modern Slang & How Does Slang Start?


Today: Origins Of Slang

You would probably scratch your head if anyone asked if you liked your “sit upons” or think they were pretty behind the times if they described something as “far out,” but once upon a time, those words were as popular as “YOLO” is now. The origins of slang stretch far into the past, and will most certainly be around far into the future.

Back as far as the 1800s, there was slang used to describe popular objects. “Sit upons” were sweats, and an umbrella was a “rain-napper.” If you happened to have “houghmagandy,” that meant you got lucky the night before, and by “lucky” I mean exactly what your libido thinks it means.


Today Show: How Does Slang Start?

Today: The Origins Of Slang, Modern Slang, & How Does Slang Start?

The origins of slang is quite interesting, in that we really have no idea how most words get started.

With slang coming and going like nobody’s business, one might be wondering what the point of it is. John McWhorter, a professor of linguistics and American studies at Columbia University, described slang as a way for us to have a sense of belonging, something that makes us a part of a group. Generally, the individual responsible for creating slang is not known, we just know that it emerges.

For example, Bugs Bunny’s famous “what’s up, doc?” line was conceived by a writer that came from Dallas, where, in the 1920s and 1930s, people were calling each other “doc.” No one knows how people got started calling each other doc, or why they did it, but it was the thing to do at the time.


Today: Modern Slang

Today’s generation, growing up in the lightning fast hashtag era, maneuvers its way through slang with the grace of a linguistic acrobat, quickly swinging and flipping from one word to the next. From “thode,” to the abundance of acronyms like “omw,” slang is in full force.

There is no telling when the hashtag will go the way of “houghmagandy,” but rest assured, we will move on from it and come up with new things. As long as there are people and as long as they have language, there is always going to be slang.


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