"Slang" is the secret argot of a group of people who share a similar lifestyle, sub-culture or workplace. Its purpose is to conceal the meaning of what is being said from those outside of the group. The Polish slang used in prisons, for example, (grypserka) is meant to conceal what is being said from the prison guards.
The correct use of slang can identify the speaker to other members of the group as "one of us". In schools on both sides of the Atlantic, school children frequently converse in their own form of English: "playground slang". And if you want to be part of the gang, you had better know the language.
It's designed to exclude the adult world from their conversations. The jargon they use changes from generation to generation and often even from week to week. Some of the expressions used disappear from use, but others enter into normal, adult speech, and there are many that you are bound to know already.
Take a look at our A -Z. There are some examples of classic playground slang and a list of rarer slang words. There's our essential Hip-Hop Rap Slang Guide, and we take a peek at the latest slang to qualify for dictionary status.
Here are just a few expressions. Some of them are a little rude, some just coarse. So if you are easily upset by naughty words, then do not read our A-Z! But just remember, there are many far worse words that we don't include so as not to offend. We'll leave that to your own research...
Apple-pusher - (AmE = apple-polisher) pupil who tries to appeal to the teacher by excessive politeness or helpfulness.
Bookworm - person who is constantly reading books and studying.
Brown-nose- same meaning as anapple-pusher, but much ruder. Common in adult slang as a sycophant or flatterer.
(to) Bunk off - take a day off from school without permission from parents or school authorities (also known assagging off, orplayinghooky [AmE]).Play truant (formal).
Bullshit - (verb or noun) crude or coarse word meaning sth is untrue, rubbish, exaggerated etc., often to deceive or impress someone. "He's so full ofbullshit - don't listen to him." Or as a verb: "She's alwaysbullshitting on about how stylish she is." NB: used without an article: don't say "It's a/the bullshit", unless referring to the real thing which you've just stepped in perhaps!
Cheat sheet - piece of paper on which expected answers to exam questions are written and smuggled into the classroom (aka apony (AmE).
Crib - as cheat sheet: also to copy dishonestly from sb else's work (alsoto crib)
Dope - a slow or stupid pupil/student.
F - funnily enough, er, can't think of an F-word...
Goody-goody - seeapple-pusher
Innit? - short form of "isn't it?" "This class is really boring,innit?" Over the last 10 years especially working class kids in London use it after nearly every sentence, contrary to normal English rules of using. So instead of usingaren't you?aren't I? isn't she? won't we? and so on, you might hear: "I'm going to the park,innit?" or "We're going clubbing later,innit?" Oddly enough, this is similar to the way the French use "n'est-ce pas?" perfectly correctly.
Jock - sb who is good at sports but a completemeathead (a stupid oaf) at schoolwork that requires concentration and intellectual abilities.
(to) Leg it - run away from trouble: "Leg it, the teacher's coming!"
Mickey-Mouse class - an easy subject to study (also referred to as asap. But be careful: asap is a stupid person!).
Ossified - (AmE) very drunk or drug intoxicated. Older common BrE terms used are:bollocksed (bolloxed) and pissed (both coarse) andsloshed.
Pushover - naive teacher, one that is easy to deceive: "Mrs Johnson is a realpushover".
Swot - a pupil or student who spends all their time studying and seems to have no other interests.
Teacher's pet - teacher's favourite student (usually anapple-pusher).
Up the duff - pregnant: "She'sup the duff". Alternatively, a humorous BrE expression is: "She's got abun in the oven". Hopefully this won't be needed for teenagers.
Zit - spot: "I woke up this morning and my face was covered inzits. Too many greasy takeaways."
The following is a selection of new or relatively new expressions which you may come across in dialogue in books and films:
Dudical - (AmE only) fantastic, really good (derived from "dude").
Eggy - really good, marvellous, as in: "Have you heard the new song by Eminem? It'seggy, man."
Harsh- really good, cool. Different from its normal meaning: severe, unfair.
(to throw a) Hoy- vomit, throw up. Used in similar way to 'puścić pawia'
Joiner - a pupil who eagerly joins all sorts of school clubs, teams and other activities.
Kacks- underpants! (Kecks is similar, meaning trousers or pants in general, especially in Northern England)
Neckback - a playground punishment consisting of a hard slap on the back of the neck.
Quahog - (AmE) sb showing stupidity or lack of style: "Look at him, he's a realquahog".
(to) Rambo(ize) - (AmE) annihilate sb or sth. From the film character Rambo. "OK guys, please don'trambo the other team. Just win the game."
Snow job - (AmE) attempt to cover up a lack of knowledge of a subject by using long words and florid style. Helpful for essay writing! Also systematic deception: the act of persuading sb to believe sth, especially by lying. Akabullshitting, of course. Also:waffle (BrE)
Vees - (to flick the vees,give a V-sign) make an insulting two fingered salute. A favourite gesture of the group Oasis! Opposite of the peace sign.
Wacko - insane, crazy (from "wacky" meaning silly, crazy, funny in a silly way). This term became popular a few years ago when describing the weird behaviour of Michael Jackson, who became known as "Wacko Jacko".
Yitney - a coward.
- Peter Gentle, Katarzyna Allen, John Edmondson