Many of the words and phrases, perhaps most, that we address in these pages are slang. But what is slang and where does the word come from? Neither question has an easy answer. There is considerable variation in what people consider to be slang and no one is quite sure where the word comes from.

Perhaps the best definition of slang is in the Historical Dictionary of American Slang, which glosses it as:

an informal, nonstandard, nontechnical vocabulary composed chiefly of novel-sounding synonyms for standard words and phrases.

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