Slang: The Authoritative Topic-by-Topic Dictionary of American Lingoes from All Walks of Life

Slang: The Authoritative Topic-by-Topic Dictionary of American Lingoes from All Walks of Life

by Paul Dickson

Hardcover(REVISED)

$21.84 $25.00 Save 13% Current price is $21.84, Original price is $25. You Save 13%. View All Available Formats & Editions

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780788192562
Publisher: DIANE Publishing Company
Publication date: 06/28/2000
Edition description: REVISED
Pages: 465
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 1.50(h) x 9.50(d)

About the Author

Paul Dickson, a freelance writer and author of forty-two books, lives in Garrett Park, Maryland. He has written for a number of newspapers and magazines, including Esquire, Playboy, and Smithsonian. His critically acclaimed books include War Slang, Words, Names, The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, The Congress Dictionary, and What's in a Name?

Read an Excerpt

From Chapter One: Advertising and Public Relations

Let's Try a Few and See If They Repeat 'Em


Advertising, for its part, has so prostrated itself on the altar of word worship that it has succeeded in creating a whole language of its own. And while Americans are bilingual in this respect, none can confuse the language of advertising with their own.
-- William H. Whyte Jr. and the editors of Fortune, in Is Anybody Listening? (Simon & Schuster, 1952)

Ads for computers, cars, vacations, phone service, and liquor are popping up faster than you can say World Wide Web. All the big Web sites have them -- Netscape, Yahoo, Pathfinder, HotWired, CNet, ZDNet, ESPN SportsZone, Playboy -- and so do many of the smaller ones.
-- Michelle V. Rafter on Internet advertising, the Los Angeles Times, December 17, 1995


In the late 1950s the nation went gaga over the slangy metaphoric hyperbole of Mad Ave. The phrases were dubbed "gray flannelisms" (from the novel The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit) by syndicated columnist Walter Winchell, while fellow columnist Dorothy Kilgallen called them "ad agencyisms." They were all convoluted, and most were based on whether or not something -- an ad, a campaign, a slogan, etc. -- would work. The most famous flannelism was "Let's send it up the flagpole and see if they salute it," but columnists and TV personalities repeated hundreds more with relish. A few of many:


  • Let's pull up the periscope and see where we're at.
  • I see feathers on it but it's still not flying.
  • Let's toss it around and see if it makes salad.
  • Let's guinea-pig thatone.
  • Let's roll some rocks and see what crawls out.
  • Well, the oars are in the water and we're headed upstream.
  • Let's drop this down the well and see what kind of splash it makes.


Were these real or were they created to get a line in a newspaper column? It would seem that they were more real than hype. No less an observer than John Crosby of the old New York Herald Tribune deemed them "the curiously inventive (and, in some cases, remarkably expressive) language of the advertising industry." This is not to say a few were not created for outside consumption. In late 1957, when the Soviet Union put a dog in earth orbit, the metaphoric handstand that attracted attention was "Let's shoot a satellite into the client's orbit and see if he barks."

That fad has passed (at least the public side of it has) and things are a little less colorful in advertising and public relations, but plenty remains, and something new is on the horizon, the vast potential for advertising on the Internet, for which there is already a nascent slang with such terms as banner, button, click-through, hit, impression pixels, and traffic tracking being applied to cyberadvertising.

Copyright © 1990, 1998 by Paul Dickson

Table of Contents

Contents

PREFACE

INTRODUCTION: It Ain't No Big Thing

1 * ADVERTISING AND PUBLIC RELATIONS

Let's Try a Few and See If They Repeat 'Em

2 * AUCTIONESE

What's Your Pleasure?

3 * AUTOMOTIVE SLANG

How to Speak Car Talk

4 * AVIATION AND SPACE

Words From the Wild Blue Yonder

5 * BUREAUCRATESE

The Talk of the White-Collar Bailiwick

6 * BUSINESS AND FINANCE

Buzzwords for Big Shots

7 * COMPUTER CYBERSPEAK — A WEB OF WORDS

Making the Leap From Lurker to Net.personality

8 * COMPUTERESE DOWNLOADED

What Do You Say to a Chiphead?

9 * COUNTERCULTURAL SLANG

The Slang of Yesterday Sounds a Lot Like Today

10 * CRIME, PUNISHMENT, AND THE LAW

Words You Don't Hear on the Outside

11 * THE DRUG TRADE

The Spacey Talk of the Junkie, Cokie, Druggie, and Pothead

12 * FANTASY, THE FUTURE, SCIENCE FICTION, AND CYBERPUNK

Coming to Terms With Parallel Worlds

13 * FOOD AND DRINK

Words and Phrases to Fill a Doggie Bag

14 * THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Slang on Ice, on the Rocks, on the Road, in the Snow, on (and Under) Water, in the Woods, on the Mountains, and From the Air

15 * MEDIA SLANG

Words From Those Who Fill the Pages and the Airwaves

16 * MEDICAL AND EMERGENCY ROOM SLANG

Words You Don't Want to Hear From Your Hospital Bed

17 * MENTAL STATES

Cutting With a Dull Tool, Too Much Cuckoo in the Clock, and Other Fulldeckisms and Marbles Metaphors

18 * NAUTICAL SLANG

At Sea With theLanguage

19 * PENTAGONESE

Fort Fumble Speaks

20 * Performing Slang

Terms From out of the Mosh Pit and the Greenroom

21 * POLITICAL SLANG — CONGRESSIONAL VERSION

The Lingo of the Hill People

22 * REAL ESTATE

Vocabulary to Go With a CNTRY KIT, FDR, 3BR, 2BA, W/DD, ALRM, C/V, GRDN & RFDK, for $495,000

23 * SEX, THE BODY, AND BODILY FUNCTIONS

R-Rated Terms You Probably Won't Find in Your Junior Dictionary

24 * SPORTS SLANG

Introductory Jockese: Of Sports, Games, and the Mother Tongue

25 * TEEN AND HIGH SCHOOL SLANG

A Dialect of Many Subcultures

26 * UNIVERSITY AND COLLEGE SLANG

A-OK, but Not Always PC

27 * WAR SLANG

Out of the Jungles of Southeast Asia and the Great Sandbox of the Persian Gulf

28 * X'ERS, YUPPIES, DINKS, AND OTHER MODERNS

A Field Guide to the Last Quarter of the Twentieth Century

BIBLIOGRAPHY — SORT OF

INDEX

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews