This online resource is a reference guide to the many slang and
informal expressions heard in the United Kingdom.
Determining what slang is listed.
The listing of a slang expression is determined by its use beyond
that of the localised employment of a few friends; in due course
these localised expressions may gain greater popularity and achieve
expanded regional, national or even global recognition, however
it is only at that time that they will be included here. We should
be aware that there is a large volume of slang we encounter through
the media such as television, film and press, which invariably increase
our reference points but genuinely remain outside of personal use.
These media promoted expressions may in due course be adopted into
our vernacular, and as such, when they can be confirmed as in use,
then they will be listed at that time. With repeated exposure, via
film, television and music, the volume of North American slang we
hear in the UK is vast, but a large percentage is still to make
inroads into the forefront of British use. Slang we have adopted
that originates outside the U.K. is indicated where known.
Due to the nature of the World Wide Web and the limitations imposed
by the current Internet technology, there has needed to be a conscious
effort to limit the size of the dictionary pages, by restricting
the length of definitions, etymology and accompanying examples of
usage. I have tried to include such information where I believe
there may be confusion as to an expression's meaning or use, and
etymology when I think it may be of interest. Generally, slang is,
or used to be, in verbal use long before its first written documentation,
consequently true etymological dating is difficult at best. With
that in mind, the dates accompanying definitions will usually only
approximate the first written use of the term.
Dialect and regionalisms
Although the United Kingdom is a comparatively small country, the
number of dialects and regional variations in language is arguably
the most diverse in the English speaking world. I have included
suggestions as to where an expression is in use and whether confined
to a particular district, town, or county, however the now common
migratory habits of people weakens the strength of regionalisms
and widens the locality of use. Consequently the boundaries of slang
and dialect use is becoming increasingly blurred and making the
task of regional notation more difficult. Dialect is also included,
and athough not slang, its peculiarity of use can present confusion
to a outsider and appears to all intents and purposes as being slang.
Additionally there is a further relationship with regional tongues,
in that many slang expressions have their root in dialect.
Our everyday conversations may or may not utilize slang itself
but our vernacular often has a relaxed quality that comes from our
use of informal expressions, or colloquialisms. This dictionary
includes many informal words common to British speech. They are
a colourful part of modern English whose informal qualities are
very much related to slang, indeed they can be as confusing as slang
to a visitor to the U.K. or student of English. As the dictionary
focusses on British speech an attempt has been made to restrict
any informal terms as those peculiar to the UK.
The ephemeral nature of slang.
A majority of slang falls by the wayside after its parent scene
or fashion has lost momentum and interest has waned. The ephemeral
nature of slang is all too easily forgotten without some form of
documentation which is one of the purposes of this dictionary. Bearing
in mind the complicated dynamics of slang, I think it is pertinent
to remind the user of this resource that terms listed may have become
obsolete from use. The inclusion of specific terms is by no means
an indication of current or widespread use.
The slang arena.
It is noteworthy that a huge proportion of current slang originates
from just a few areas, such as sex, the gay scene, the drug scene
and the music scene; all areas dominated by and important to adolescents
and younger generations; indeed slang known to be coined by senior
citizens is rare at best, however I believe this in itself will
change in the future. The gay scene has for many years proffered
an immense amount of slang, but with 'straight' society's less prejudiced
views and acceptance of homosexuality, openly mixed socialising
is revealing a once private and discreet language. The very fact
that homosexually has been persecuted for so long reinforces one
of the very reasons slang is developed and resorted to, as a means
of communicating freely and secretly, which in itself helps as a
means of identification and exclusion. Similarly, with the ever
growing popularity of illicit drug use, the quantity of related
slang is encyclopaedic in size, however with the criteria of selection
chosen for this dictionary most are still omitted. Drug slang is
coined quite freely in the user's social circles, but most will
not become universally known due to the nature of the scene's illegality.
The necessity for discretion when using drugs encourages a need
to retain the associated vernacular within the immediate environment.
With all these changing parameters I hope you will appreciate that
ongoing research will mean an ever expanding and changing dictionary.
does have a tendency to be vulgar and offensive, hence I would
like to apologise now for any offence taken from the following
dictionary. I am aware of the contentious nature of the inclusion
of racist, sexist and prejudicial expressions, but to omit
them from the collection would present a false impression
of current linguistics. I do not in any way condone the use
of these expressions and welcome any feedback regarding the
ethics of the incorporation of such terms within this dictionary.