What Is slang?

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What is slang? Slang is a very informal adaptation of language. In many cases, slang is specific to certain geographical locations, groups of people or specific industries. Its informal nature makes it acceptable for conversations among friends but inappropriate for formal writing because it is sometimes misunderstood. While many slang words appear in the Oxford dictionary, they are not actual words of the formal English language.

Use formal over informal language when you write

While some words and phrases are acceptable in everyday conversation, especially when you are speaking with friends, these same words do not translate well to quality professional writing. For example, if you are writing about the fit of a particular piece of clothing, saying it makes you look “bootylicious” or is a staple for any serious “fashionista” is not appropriate. While these words work well in casual conversation, they do not carry much weight when you are writing in a more serious, professional tone. Consider the following example:

Inappropriate: These pants are bootylicious.

Appropriate: These pants are flattering to your figure and enhance your body’s natural shapeliness.

Slang with different formal definitions

Slang is sometimes an alternative way to use a word that has a distinct meaning in formal English. The slang usage of the word usually conveys an entirely different meaning. In many cases, you can confuse your readers entirely if they are not familiar with the word and what slang is.

Slang: When you get off later, do you plan to snag a bite at the sub shop?

Formal: After you are done with work, do you plan to pick up something to eat at the sub shop?

In the above examples, the slang sentence could prove confusing to your readers. They could interpret your words in ways you did not intend. In addition, the slang usage of “off,” “snag” and “bite” all have formal meanings that do not work within the context of the sentence.