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September 14, 2012 5:42 PM   Subscribe

The alphaDictionary Historical Dictionary of American Slang presents a unique way for studying slang. It contains over 2200 slang words with the centuries in which they were first printed. The dates were taken from the Oxford English Dictionary, the Online Etymological Dictionary, or the earliest occurrences the editors can remember.

Slang Generation Checkup
To be sure the way you speak does not betray your age, you should take Dr. Goodword's Slang Generation Checkup and find out in which era the slang you use comes from.

Dr. Goodword's Glossary of Quaint Southernisms
If you enjoy our American slang dictionary, you should get a kick out of this glossary of words pronounced with a Southern accent.

26 Beatnik Slang Words and Phrases We Should All Start Using
Plenty of phrases from the first self-described hipster generation have lasted into modern conversation: people still get bent out of shape, annoying people bug us and muscular guys are still built, just to scan the b-words. Here are 26 words and phrases that don’t get much use any more but are worth sneaking into conversation.

Discuss accents, slang and dialects with others. Now you can talk with others who have an interest in words, how they are pronounced, used, and created in the Alpha Agora forums.
posted by netbros (8 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Lame meaning "weak, inadequate" is way older than 1960s. Hoccleve, 1415: "Thou art of merit & of honur lame." (Ouch.)

True meaning "loyal, faithful" is certainly not 1990s, as that is the word's original meaning. It's in Beowulf, for crying out loud, so only a thousand years off!

I think they need to go back to etymology school.
posted by Jehan at 6:10 PM on September 14, 2012

"Let's book" for "let's go" and "wicked" as an intensifier were both common in 1970s New England when I was growing up. Perhaps they're regionalisms, but their citations for both are late by a decade or so.

Quibbles, though. This is good fun.
posted by Kinbote at 6:18 PM on September 14, 2012

"go bananas" = 1930s
"go ape" = 1950s

The Historical Dictionary of American Slang doesn't seem to include swear words, which is kinda dumb considering what it purports to be.

*goes apeshit*
posted by Sys Rq at 7:09 PM on September 14, 2012

"Let's book"

I wonder if that came up from a conflation of catchphrases from Dragnet ("Let's roll!") and Hawaii Five-O ("Book 'em, Danno!") as used by cops-and-robbers-playing kids who didn't quite understand them.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:17 PM on September 14, 2012

posted by not_on_display at 8:34 PM on September 14, 2012

I went to high school from 2002-2007. However, it seems all the slang we used (The rear of a person was called the ass, which isn't listed). Apart from that it seems most of our slang dated from the 60s. Quite possibly due to the heavy rap bias I see there.
posted by Canageek at 8:42 PM on September 14, 2012

Speaking of "generational slang", Cracked's Gladstone chimes in with "6 Great Phrases for Making You Feel Old as Hell"
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:08 AM on September 15, 2012

An incredibly mediocre effort. This is not a reliable slang dictionary. And it steals its title from an actual scholarly work of lexicography, Historical Dictionary of American Slang, which, although it may never be finished past entries beginning with "O," is still far, far superior to this rubbish.

Disclosures: I worked for three years on the unpublished entries for the real Historical Dictionary of American Slang, I am a specialist in slang and new words, and I am a dictionary editor.
posted by Mo Nickels at 12:14 PM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

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