American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
n. A kind of language occurring chiefly in casual and playful speech, made up typically of short-lived coinages and figures of speech that are deliberately used in place of standard terms for added raciness, humor, irreverence, or other effect.
n. Language peculiar to a group; argot or jargon: thieves' slang.
v. To use slang.
v. To use angry and abusive language: persuaded the parties to quit slanging and come to the bargaining table.
To use slang; employ vulgar or vituperative language.
To address slang or abuse to; berate or assail with vituperative or abusive language; abuse; scold.
n. The cant words or jargon used by thieves, peddlers, beggars, and the vagabond classes generally; cant. Slang in the sense of the cant language of thieves appears in print certainly as early as the middle of the last century. It was included by Grose in his “Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue,” published in 1785. But it was many years before it was allowed a place in any vocabulary of our speech that confined itself to the language of good speakers and writers, Its absence from such works would not necessarily imply that it had not been in frequent use. Still, that this never had been the case we have direct evidence. Scott, in his novel of “Redgauntlet,” which appeared in 1824, when using the word, felt the necessity of defining it; and his definition shows not only that it was generally unknown, but that it had not then begun to depart at all from its original sense. In the thirteenth chapter of that work, one of the characters is represented as trying to overhear a conversation, … but … “what did actually reach his ears was disguised so completely by the use of cant words and the thieves' Latin called slang that, even when he caught the words, he found himself as far as ever from the sense of their conversation.” No one who is now accustomed either to speak slang [in def. 2], or to speak of the users of it, would think of connecting it with anything peculiar to the language of thieves. Yet it is clear from this one quotation that the complete change of meaning which the term has undergone has taken place within a good deal less than sixty years.The Nation, Oct. 9, 1890, p. 289.
n. In present use, colloquial words and phrases which have originated in the cant or rude speech of the vagabond or unlettered classes, or, belonging in form to standard speech, have acquired or have had given them restricted, capricious, or extravagantly metaphorical meanings, and are regarded as vulgar or inelegant. Examples of slang are rum for ‘queer,’ gay for ‘dissolute,’ corned, tight, slued, etc., for ‘intoxicated,’ awfully for ‘exceedingly,’ jolly for ‘surprising, uncommon,’ daisy for something or somebody that is charming or admirable,kick the bucket or hop the twig for ‘die.’ etc. This colloquial slang also contains many words derived from thieves' cant, such as pal for ‘partner, companion,’cove for ‘fellow,’ and ticker for ‘watch.’ There is a slang attached to certain professions, occupations, and classes of society, such as racing slang, collegeslang, club slang, literary slang, political slang. (See cant.) Slang enters more or less into all colloquial speech and into inferior popular literature, as novels, newspapers, political addresses, and is apt to break out even in more serious writings. Slang as such is not necessarily vulgar or ungrammatical; indeed, it is generally correct in idiomatic form, and though frequently censured on this ground, it often, in fact, owes its doubtful character to other causes. Slang is often used adjectively: as, a slang expression. See the quotations below.
n. Among London costermongers, a counterfeit weight or measure.
n. Among showmen: A performance.
n. A traveling booth or show.
n. A hawker's license: as, to be out on the slang (that is, to travel with a hawker's license).
n. A watch-chain.
n. plural Legirons or fetters worn by convicts. The slangs consist of a chain weighing from seven to eight pounds and about three feet long, attached to ankle-basils riveted on the leg, the slack being suspended from a leather waistband: hence the name.