You certainly know slang when you hear it but what is it that
makes a word or phrase slang?
Slang in general is informal language and language that lowers
the formality of a conversation and establishes tribe or membership.
We are members of the same subculture.
Tom Dalzell editor
The Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang & Unconventional
English says probably the most durable slang word is "cool".
It's such an
easy word yet has really lasted on its face longer than just
about anything. I mean we're now sixty years into "cool".
Another word that really interests me is the word "hip"
In the first decade of the twentieth century one heard the word
"hip" and "hep" a lot. And then you turned
to the "hip cat" then came the "hipster".
Then there was a first generation of "hippies", which
were jazz lovers in the 1950's. Then came "the hippies"
the flower children of the 1960's and then came "hip hop".
So this one base word "hip" has worked though the
entire twenty-first century.
Slang comes from
all types of sources and sometimes it's deliberately created.
In the late
1920's an East Coast newspaper created a contest - come up with
the best word to describe somebody who ignores prohibition laws.
And two different people won the prize for coming up with the
same word, which was "scofflaw". We still use it now
mostly with parking violators.
awesome went from conventional English to slang - I'm Mike Carruthers
and that' s Something You Should Know.