Remember the days back in elementary school — and long before smartphones were ubiquitous — when kids dreaded being called a “momma’s boy,”, “doofus,” “tattle tale,” or a “teacher’s pet”? Or how about the panic that swept over kids when threatened with a “noogie” or a “titty twister”? Ah, the innocence of youth… Those terms, of course with the benefit of hindsight, were tame compared to the cruel taunts that middle school and high school kids use these days — especially emboldened by the anonymity that social media imparts which takes bullying to an entirely new level.
Nevertheless, regardless of the generation, slang arises out of a need to define new things and situations that conventional or formal language does not address; moreover, it functions as a way to develop group identity, highlighting social and contextual understanding. Slang words, unlike conventional terms, are so memorable because they are so vivid and inventive. Children can be particularly clever and playful when it comes to creating new words, as Chris Lewis, who created the Online Dictionary of Playground Slang (ODPS), has found. The ODPS, which contains more than 3,000 terms from around the globe, now resides in the vast virtual repository of the Internet Archive. In 2003, Lewis published The Dictionary of Playground Slang which contains more than 1,000 “disgusting expressions.” As you thumb through the book, the reader cannot help notice that a majority of terms are related to sex, bodily secretions, and appearance — the topics that um… titillate children and adolescents. Here are some highlights from The Dictionary of Playground Slang:
brainfart: when person loses their train of thought
checks: a word used when a person just farted and is proud of it
dibber-dobber: a tattle-tale
fleggy: spit that includes mucous
grundy (or undie grundy): pulling the waistband of a victim’s underpants and letting it snap to cause pain
jesus boots: sandals
lunchbag: a person without any friends; a loser
make a mud baby: to defecate (also, release the hounds, clip a steamer, drop off the kids)
peanut smuggler: a girl that is not wearing a bra
swamp donkey: an unattractive person of the opposite sex
tagnuts: a piece of excrement that sticks stubbornly to the buttocks or anal hairs
After reading this list, one can’t help but think: “Out of the mouths of babes…”
Which slang words do you remember from your childhood?
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For further reading: web.archive.org/web/20040419005809/http://www.odps.org/glossword/index.php?a=list&d=4