Cover image for Slang : the authoritative topic-by-topic dictionary of American lingoes from all walks of life
Slang : the authoritative topic-by-topic dictionary of American lingoes from all walks of life
Dickson, Paul.
Personal Author:
Revised, updated and expanded.
Publication Information:
New York : Pocket Books, [1998]

Physical Description:
xii, 465 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PE2846 .D44 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



The first edition of Paul Dickson's "Slang" was selected by William Safire of The New York Times as one of the best language books of the year. Completely updated-- with more than twice as many entries as before-- this latest volume truly encompasses the whole colorful range of current American slang. Divided into twenty-nine broad categories, these are the words that make American English as expressive as it is fascinating. From advertising offices to prisons, from high schools to the halls of Congress, this invaluable resource reveals the way Americans speak and think today.

Whether burgeoning from the web of new words on the Internet, the fluid language of the drug culture, or the brutal and ironic parlance of the Vietnam and Gulf wars, these verbal inventions have carved their places in the vernacular. The vitality of American slang is reflected in such recent coinages as digerati (digital equivalent of literati), spam (to deploy mass postings on the Internet), and phat (good, cool). And the flexibility of the language has given rise to a mountain biker's claims to feeling hammered (exhausted, beaten to a pulp), the Pentagon br



From Chapter One: Advertising and Public Relations Let's Try a Few and See If They Repeat 'Em Advertising, for its part, has so prostrated itself on the altar of word worship that it has succeeded in creating a whole language of its own. And while Americans are bilingual in this respect, none can confuse the language of advertising with their own. -- William H. Whyte Jr. and the editors of Fortune, in Is Anybody Listening? (Simon & Schuster, 1952) Ads for computers, cars, vacations, phone service, and liquor are popping up faster than you can say World Wide Web. All the big Web sites have them -- Netscape, Yahoo, Pathfinder, HotWired, CNet, ZDNet, ESPN SportsZone, Playboy -- and so do many of the smaller ones. -- Michelle V. Rafter on Internet advertising, the Los Angeles Times, December 17, 1995 In the late 1950s the nation went gaga over the slangy metaphoric hyperbole of Mad Ave. The phrases were dubbed "gray flannelisms" (from the novel The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit) by syndicated columnist Walter Winchell, while fellow columnist Dorothy Kilgallen called them "ad agencyisms." They were all convoluted, and most were based on whether or not something -- an ad, a campaign, a slogan, etc. -- would work. The most famous flannelism was "Let's send it up the flagpole and see if they salute it," but columnists and TV personalities repeated hundreds more with relish. A few of many: Let's pull up the periscope and see where we're at. I see feathers on it but it's still not flying. Let's toss it around and see if it makes salad. Let's guinea-pig that one. Let's roll some rocks and see what crawls out. Well, the oars are in the water and we're headed upstream. Let's drop this down the well and see what kind of splash it makes. Were these real or were they created to get a line in a newspaper column? It would seem that they were more real than hype. No less an observer than John Crosby of the old New York Herald Tribune deemed them "the curiously inventive (and, in some cases, remarkably expressive) language of the advertising industry." This is not to say a few were not created for outside consumption. In late 1957, when the Soviet Union put a dog in earth orbit, the metaphoric handstand that attracted attention was "Let's shoot a satellite into the client's orbit and see if he barks." That fad has passed (at least the public side of it has) and things are a little less colorful in advertising and public relations, but plenty remains, and something new is on the horizon, the vast potential for advertising on the Internet, for which there is already a nascent slang with such terms as banner, button, click-through, hit, impression pixels, and traffic tracking being applied to cyberadvertising. Copyright © 1990, 1998 by Paul Dickson Excerpted from Slang: The Authoritative Topic-by-Topic Dictionary of American Lingoes from All Walks of Life by Paul Dickson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Introduction: It Ain't No Big Thing
1 Advertising and Public Relations
Let's Try a Few and See If They Repeat 'Em
2 Auctionese
What's Your Pleasure?
3 Automotive Slang
How to Speak Car Talk
4 Aviation and Space
Words From the Wild Blue Yonder
5 Bureaucratese
The Talk of the White-Collar Bailiwick
6 Business and Finance
Buzzwords for Big Shots
7 Computer Cyberspeak -- A Web Of Words
Making the Leap From Lurker to
8 Computerese Downloaded
What Do You Say to a Chiphead?
9 Countercultural Slang
The Slang of Yesterday Sounds a Lot
Like Today
10 Crime, Punishment, and The Law
Words You Don't Hear on the Outside
11 The Drug Trade
The Spacey Talk of the Junkie, Cokie,
Druggie, and Pothead
12 Fantasy, The Future, Science Fiction, and Cyberpunk
Coming to Terms With Parallel Worlds
13 Food and Drink
Words and Phrases to Fill a Doggie Bag
14 The Great Outdoors
Slang on Ice, on the Rocks, on the Road, in the Snow, on (and Under) Water, in the
Woods, on the Mountains, and From the Air
15 Media Slang
Words From
Those Who Fill the Pages and the Airwaves
16 Medical and Emergency Room Slang
Words You Don't Want to Hear From Your Hospital Bed
17 Mental States
Cutting With a Dull Tool, Too Much Cuckoo in the Clock,
and Other Fulldeckisms and Marbles Metaphors
18 Nautical SLANGAt Sea With the Language
19 Pentagonese
Fort Fumble Speaks
20 Performing SlangTerms From out of the Mosh Pit and the Greenroom
21 Political Slang -- Congressional Version
The Lingo of the Hill People
22 Real Estate
Vocabulary to Go With a CNTRY KIT, FDR, 3BR, 2BA, W/DD, ALRM, C/V, Grdn & Rfdk, for $495,000
23 Sex, The Body, And Bodily Functionsr-Rated Terms You Probably Won't Find in Your Junior
24 Sports Slang
Introductory Jockese: Of Sports, Games, and
the Mother Tongue
25 Teen and High School Slanga
Dialect of Many
26 University and College Slanga-Ok, But Not Always Pc
27 War Slang
Out of the Jungles of Southeast Asia and the Great Sandbox of the Persian Gulf
28 X'ers, Yuppies, Dinks, And Other Modernsa Field
Guide to the Last Quarter of the Twentieth Century
Sort Of Index