Linguists Discuss the History of Colloquial Slang

Linguists Ben Zimmer and Nicolle Holliday discussed the history of colloquial slang within the English language for Wired. The knowledgable pair note the origins of known slang terms, how some become very popular but fizzle out, and how others have remarkable staying power.

When it comes to the casual and playful language we call slang, words can get popular really quickly among certain groups and can disappear just as quickly. Slang is often a kind of in-group marker. So if some slang term gets too popular too quickly outside of that in-group, that can spell the end of its usefulness.

Some of the more modern yet outdated terms include “cheugy,” “YOLO,” and “on fleek.” Those that have withstood the test of time include “cool” and “booze.”

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