"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Thursday, 3 October 2013


 I have sometimes used the word colloquial to describe words on this blog. I should explain that colloquial does not mean slang.   
Slang is 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, humour, irreverence, or other effect; language peculiar to a group; argot or jargon.

Colloquial is often assumed to mean slang but it doesn't.  It simply means as used in a conversational sense; used in ordinary conversation; not formal or literary. Even a look at its synonyms yields ‘everyday’, ‘common’, and ‘idiomatic’ but not slang.  Colloquialisms are therefore perfectly acceptable in conversation whereas slang may or may not be.


  1. Another difference is probably that some slang terms may only be understood by the group familiar with that particular slang, while colloquial terms are generally understood by (almost) everyone.

  2. To me, colloquial also always meant the everyday use particular to an area. As in, New Orleans has a colloquial term for the strip of grass that runs down the middle of a divided street or boulevard. There, it's called the "neutral ground," and dates back to the strip down the middle of a street in colonial days dividing the French side of the street from the Spanish side. The center was neutral.

  3. hurray, I had at least a working knowledge of this word! I hope all is well for you and SWDT. (did I get that right?)

  4. I think I probably knew but I might have made a mess of trying to explain... Thanks for clearing that up! ;)