What is Slang? Definition, Examples of Slang
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What is Slang? Definition & Examples of Slang

Slang definition: Slang is informal language used by people of all ages

What is Slang?

A slang term is a word or phrase which is informal and is typically used in speech rather than writing. It is useful for describing a specific group of people or context; therefore, its meaning may not be clear to everyone.

Examples of Slang

“Hang loose” means to calm down and relax someone.

Here are some examples of modern slang

  • Lit refers to something that is amazing.
    • Her new car was lit, didn’t you think?
  • “On fleek” means perfect.
    • This morning, my hair was on fleek.
  • “Crib” refers to a person’s living quarters such as a home or apartment.
    • Do you want to spend time with me and my friends in my crib?

Slang in Literature: Its Function

A slang term is a way for people to express themselves in a way that they would not be able to express themselves in another way. Many slang terms will eventually fade out of use, but others allow the people of a generation to communicate in a unique manner.

In literature, slang is mainly used for dialogue in order to reveal a character’s subculture or personality, not in verbal or informal conversation.

Examples of Slang in Literature

The slang used in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald conveys a sense of the time period being told. For example, the line,

  • “He saw me admiring his car. ‘It’s pretty, isn’t it, old sport?’ and he jumped off to let me see it better.”
    • As a term of endearment, “old sport” is used among upper-class gentlemen.

Burgess uses slang called Nadsat in A Clockwork Orange as a way to reflect the dystopian society in which the story takes place. Many people use a glossary to decode the words as they read the book in order to comprehend the story. Alex tells the reader at the beginning of the novel that the milk bar he and his friends frequently visit has three devotchkas sitting at the counter, while there are four malchicks.

  • Devotchkas = girls
  • Malchicks = boys


Slang is an informal language that is specific to a particular context or group of people. It can be used in literature to establish the setting or personality of a character.

Final Example:

It is common in young adult novels to use slang to convey the characters’ teenage orientation.

In Stephen Chbosky’s novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Charlie, the protagonist, narrates the story, explaining some of the school’s slang along the way.

“I kept quiet most of the time, and only one kid named Sean seemed to notice me, and I kept quiet most of the time,” he says to emphasize his unpopular status at school. After gym class, he waited for me and said really immature things like that he was going to give me a “swirlie.” “This is a process in which you stick your head in a toilet and flush it so that your hair swirls around.” The writer stops in this example to explain the meaning of the term “swirlie.”

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