Slang, youth subcultures and rock music


Main Entry: heavy metal
Function: noun
Date: 1974
: energetic and highly amplified electronic rock music having a hard beat

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

HEAVY METAL - a typically 80's style of music that features most of the characteristics of classic rock but with louder, more distorted guitars, ominous and driving rhythm, and screaming vocals about subjects such as drug use, war, religion, and problems with girlfriends. Most heavy metal bands also write sappy love ballads that find their way into mainstream radio play lists.

Heavy metal emerged in the late 60s mostly from bands such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. Such bands tended to be "hard" in that they succeeded in torturing parents in ways that the Beatles just couldn't, but in most respects they were very different from one another. Later, bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden added to the genre as it expanded into and borrowed from pop. This culminated in the late 80s diversification of heavy metal into several completely different branches. There were the blues-based big haired glam metal bands such as Great White and Motley Crew that sang exclusively about babes, there were the attitude bands like Guns 'n' Roses who also sang about babes (with an emphasis on how easy they are to get into bed), there were the dark and mysterious alternative metal bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden that avoided glamour and sang about angst and other water sign issues, there were the bands like Living Colour, Fishbone and Faith No More that were either black or borrowed from rap and soul culture, and there were the fast bands like Slayer and Metallica that sent many a parent in search of an exorcist.

Although the origin of the term heavy metal is widely attributed to novelist William Burroughs, its use actually dates well back into the 19th century, when it referred to cannon or to power more generally. It also has been used to classify certain elements or compounds, as in the phrase heavy metal poisoning. Heavy metal appeared in the lyrics of Steppenwolf's "Born to be Wild" (1968), and by the early 1970s rock critics were using it to refer to a specific style of music. Heavy metal has historically required one thing of its performers: long hair. Heavy metal musicians and fans came under severe criticism in the 1980s. Political and academic groups sprang up to blame the genre and its fans for causing everything from crime and violence to despondency and suicide. But defenders of the music pointed out that there was no evidence that heavy metal's exploration of madness and horror caused, rather than articulated, these social ills. The genre's lyrics and imagery have long addressed a wide range of topics, and its music has always been more varied and virtuosic than critics like to admit.

Heavy metal fragmented into subgenres (such as lite metal, death metal, and even Christian metal) in the 1980s.

SPEED METAL - a genré of music typified by a continuous double-bass drum roll, high-speed distorted guitar rhythms, an almost silent bass, and screeched or groaned vocals concerning war, death, fighting, environmental abuse, brutality, and (in rare cases) lust. The main problem with most speed metal bands is that they still see a need to put guitar solos in their songs, and the guitar solos are always really bad and last entirely too long. Speed metal seems to be a result of a marriage between punk rock and heavy metal.

. Examples of speed metal bands: Kreator, Exodus, Nuclear Assault, Megadeth, Prong, Pantera

THRASH METAL - speed metal with an especially strong punk influence. While in general speed metal musicians pride themselves on their talent and knowledge of music theory, thrash musicians laugh at such concepts or else skillfully conceal their acquaintance with them. Examples of thrash bands: DRI, Tool, some Suicidal Tendencies, and even some Black Flag.


1.    Dictionary of youth slang during 1960-70s

acid (n) LSD, a narcotic drug popular among hippies. see psychedelic, bad trip.
afro (n) haircut popular among African-americans during 1960's and '70's.

aquarian (adj.) we're not sure exactly what this means, but it has something to do with the "Age of Aquarius" and the musical Hair.
bad scene (n) a bad situation. see scene.
bad trip (n) originally described a bad experience using drugs, characterized by frightening hallucinations. Can be used to describe any bad experience.
bag (n) one's main interest or purpose in life.
black light (n) a decorative light, dark blue in color to the human eye, which makes objects or artwork in flourescent colors appear to glow.
blow your mind (v) to have an enlightening or illuminating experience.
bread (n) money.
bummer (n) bad experience.
bust (v) to arrest someone, (n) an arrest.
cat (n) a person. derived from beatnik language of the 1950's.
chick (n) a girl or woman.
commune (n) an community of people who share possessions, living accomodations, and work (or lack thereof). Usually encompasses a farm and other fashionable industries.
crash (v) to sleep, rest, or do nothing.
crash pad (n) a place where one sleeps, rests, or does nothing.
dig (v) like, enjoy, be interested in.
drag (n) an unfavorable situation or state of affairs.
dude (n) person, usually male.
establishment, the (n) traditional business and government institutions, believed to stand in the way of human progress. see "system, the."
far out (adj) very interesting, good. Also an exclamation.
free love (n) love without expectations or commitment.
fuzz (n) police.
get it on (n) successfully interact with others.
groove (v) enjoy, achieve proficiency at. see "groovy."
groovy (adj) good, interesting, enjoyable.
hang out (v) to be some place, usually doing nothing, with no purpose.
hang-up (n) inhibition, usually due to morals, beliefs, or culture.
happening (adj) exciting, new, good.
heavy (adj) thought-provoking.
hippie (n) [still searching for a definition here]. hip (adj) knowledgable of, or consistent with, the latest trends and ideas.
Iron Butterfly (n) a rock band which had one popular song, "Inna Gadda Da Vida."
lava lamp (n) a cylindrical glass container filled a semi-solid viscous material which breaks apart and forms globules while floating in a clear fluid.
like (?) word used to fill up space in an utterance when the speaker is unable to think of a suitable adjective to describe something. Use of this word has also been adopted by adjective-challenged subcultures of more recent generations.
love beads (n) colorful beads worn around the neck to symbolize love.
man (interjection) used as an exclamation to draw attention to one's utterance. related phrase: "hey, man."
mood ring (n) a ring worn on the finger which contains a large stone, the color of which is supposed to indicate the wearer's emotional mood. Mood rings were a fad in the mid-1970's.
oh wow (interjection) exclamation uttered in response to new, thought-provoking, or exciting information.
out of sight (adj) excellent, outstanding. Often used as an exclamation.
pad (n) living accomodation--house or apartment.
peace (n) absence of war.

psychedelic (adj) of or related to a mental state characterized by a profound sense of intensified sensory perception, sometimes accompanied by severe perceptual distortion, hallucinations, or extreme feelings of euphoria or despair. see acid.
rap (v,n) to talk, conversation. More recently used to name a category of music where words are spoken, rather than sung.
San Francisco (n) worldwide center of hippie activity and general weirdness.
scene (n) place, situation, or circumstances.
sock it to me (phrase) let me have it.
spaced out (adj) dazed, not alert.
split (v) to leave, depart.
square (adj) old-fashioned, not aware of new thinking and customs. (n) one who is square.
system, the (n) the system of laws, governance, and justice. see "establishment, the".
tie dye (v) a method of coloring clothing where the article of clothing is tied in knots, then dying it to produce an abstract pattern. (n) an article of clothing dyed in this manner.
trip (n) an unusual experience. (v) to have an unusual experience.
turn on (v) to become enlightened to new ways of thinking or experiencing reality.
uptight (adj) concerned about maintaining set ways of thinking and doing things.

2.    Dictionary of modern British slang


These phrases are in everyday use around most of Britain.

Phrase Meaning


99 a popular style of ice cream, usually

ordered with a 'flake'

'A' levels exams taken at age 18

abso-bloody-lutely a more definite form of 'absolutely'

afters dessert

aggro trouble; violence

all broke up on holiday, usually from school

all of a twitter very nervous or apprehensive

aluminium aluminum

arse bottom, or ass

arse bandit a homosexual

arse over tit to fall head over heels

arse about playing around, being silly

e.g. "stop arsing about!"

artic an articulated lorry; a bick truck

Aussie an Australian

backhander a bribe

bag an unattractive or elderly woman

balderdash rubbish; nonsense

balls-up a mess; a confusion

banger (1) an old car; (2) a sausage

barking mad crazy

batty dotty; crazy

beak magistrate

beehive a tall hairstyle

bees knees something really good

beetle crusher a boot; a foot

behind bottom; buttocks

berk a stupid person

e.g. "you silly berk"

bevvy a drink

bit of fluff a pretty young single woman

bill, the police, sometimes called "the old bill"

binge a drinking bout

bin liner garbage bag

bin men garbage collectors

bint a rough girl

biro a ballpoint pen

bit of alright something highly satisfactory

black maria a police van

black pudding a sausage like food made from

- pigs blood

- oats

- fat

black sheep of the family a relative who gets into trouble with the


blag a robbery; to rob

blagger a robber

Blighty England

blimey ! an expression of surprise

blob a contraceptive

blotto drunk

blower telephone

blow your own trumpet to brag; to boast

blubber to cry

bobby dazzler a remarkable person or thing

bog a toilet, a washroom

bollock naked stark naked

bollocks testicles

bonce head

bonk to copulate

bonnet hood of a car

bookie betting shop owner

boot trunk of a car

boracic penniless

bosch a derogative term for germans

bovver trouble

bovver boot a heavy boot, possibly with a toe cap and laces

quite often worn by skinheads

bovver boy a hooligan; a troublemaker

brass monkey weather cold, taken from the phrase, "it's cold enough

to freeze the balls off a brass monkey"

breakdown van a tow truck

brickie a bricklayer

brill ! short form of brilliant, meaning fantastic

brolly an umbrella

browned off bored; fed up

Brummy a native of Birmingham

bubble and squeak fried cabbage and potatoes

bubbly champagne

bugger all nothing; very little

bumf toilet paper

this led to 'bumf' being used for superfluous

papers, letters etc.

bumming a fag requesting a cigarette

e.g. "Can I bum a fag from you mate ?"

Note: This has a VERY different meaning

in the U.S.

bunch of fives a fist

"button it !" "be quiet !"

caff a cafe

cake hole a person's mouth

cardy abbreviation of cardigan

champers champagne

char tea; a domestic worker

cheeky monkey a rude person

cheesed off bored; fed up

chin chin a drinking toast

chippy a fish and chip shop; a carpenter

chokey prison

chuffed very pleased or proud

clapped out worn out, broken

clappers to go very fast; to work hard

e.g. That car goes like the clappers !

e.g. I have to work like the clappers

to finish it by lunchtime !

clickety click 66 in bingo calling

clink prison

clinker somebody who is outstanding

clobber clothing

clodhopper a clumsy person

clogger a soccer player who tackles heavily

clot a fool

cloth-ears a person with a poor sense of hearing

cobblers testicles; rubbish

cock and bull a story with very little truth in it

cock up to ruin something

e.g. "it was a real cock-up"

e.g. "haved you cocked it up ?"

coffin nail a cigarette

conk nose

conkers a childrens game played with horse chestnuts

copper police man/woman

cough up to pay

crackers crazy

cracking great; fantastic

crackling a woman who is regarded as a sexual object

crate an old name for a very old plane

create to make a fuss or an angry scene

crown jewels male genitalia

crumbly an old or senile person

crumpet a desirable woman

dabs fingerprints

daft stupid

dark horse somebody who suprises others by their actions

des res Estate agents use this to describe a

"desirable residence"

dial face

dickie bow a bow tie

diddicoy a gipsy

dip a pickpocket

dishy good looking

do a runner to leave quickly avoiding punishment

doddle easy

dog's bollocks something really good

dog's breakfast a mess

donkey's breakfast a straw hat

doodah to be in a state of excitement

e.g. "He was all in a doodah !"

doolally scatter-brained; crazy

doorstep a thick sandwich

dosh money

doss house a cheap lodging house

dosser a tramp

do the dirty on to play a mean trick on

dough money

droopy drawers an untidy or sloppy person

drop a sprog have a baby

drum a house or flat

duffer a stupid person

dummy a baby's pacifier

earful to get a shouting

e.g. "My mum gave me a right earful !"

easy-peasy something very simple

earner a lucrative job or task

elevenses morning tea break

extracting the urine see "taking the piss"

fab fabulous; wonderful

face-ache a miserable looking person

fag cigarette

fag-end a cigarette butt

fairy a homosexual man

family jewels male genitalia

fanny female genitalia

fence a receiver of stolen goods

filth, the police

fishy about the gills looking the worse for drink

fizzog face

flake a stick that is made up of flaky

pieces of chocolate

flicks, the the cinema

flog to sell

footy football; soccer

fuzz, the police

gamboll a somersault done on the ground

gamp an umbrella

gentleman's gentleman a valet

Geordie a native of Newcastle

gift of the gab being very free with speech

git an insult

e.g. "You stupid git !"

give it a whirl try it out

give someone the pip to get on someone's nerves

gob mouth

gobsmacked speechless

goes like stink very fast

good nick very good condition

gooseberry a fifth wheel

goosegog a gooseberry

go to the dogs to go to ruin

grass, grasser an informant

hang about wait a moment

hell for leather very fast

hols holidays

home and dry to be safe

hush silence

inexpressibles trousers

in good fettle in good health

in the altogether nude

in the know to have inside information

in the noddy nude

jam packed very full

jar a drink, usually a pint of beer

jelly jello

jerry a chamber pot

jerry builder a builder of unsubstantial houses

Jock a scottish person

Jonah a bringer of bad luck

jumped up to be conceited

jumper sweater

keep you hair on please calm down

kick the bucket to die

kissed the Blarney Stone a person who tells tall stories

knackered tired, worn out

derived from horses being taken to the

'knackers yard'

knockers breasts

leg it ! quick lets run !

legless drunk

like a rat out of a very fast


load of bollocks you're talking crap

utter nonesense

loo a toilet; a washroom

Liverpudlian a native of Liverpool (also see Scouser)

lorry a truck

man in blue a policeman

marmite a spread for sandwiches

me old cock my old friend

meat and two veg. male genitalia

mind your P's and Q's to be careful; to be polite

moggy cat

mom`s the word it's a secret between you and me

can be abbreviated to "Keep mom !"

money for jam an easy job

money for old rope an easy job

mother's ruin gin

mucker mate, friend

mucky pup someone who has soiled themselves

e.g. "You mucky pup !"

mug face

mutton chops side whiskers

nancy boy an effeminate male

nark a police informer

nightie a nightdress

nick prison; to steal

e.g "Hey, my bike's been nicked !"

nick, the prison

nincompoop a fool

nipper a young or small child

nippy (1) fast, or (2) cold

e.g. (1) "that car is nippy !"

e.g. (2) "it's nippy out today"

nix nothing

none too easy very difficult

e.g. "that exam was none too easy !"

nosey parker somebody who is nosey

not bad very good

not so hot not very good, awful

old man father

old girl mother

old lady mother

one in the oven pregnant, also "a bun in the oven",

"up the plum duff" and "in the pudding club"

on spec on chance

on the nod on credit

on the razzle dressed up and looking for sex

on the tap looking for sex

on your bike! go away!

out for a duck obtained a zero score

Paddy an Irishman

paralitic to be drunk

pavement sidewalk

pictures, the the cinema

pick-me-up a tonic

pie eyed to be drunk

pigs, the police

pigs breakfast a mess

pigs ear a mess

pig in muck somebody in their element

e.g. "he is as happy as a pig in muck"

pillock an insult

pinny apron

pissed drunk

pissed off to be annoyed

e.g. "I was pissed off !"

e.g. "He really pissed me off !"

The US replace "pissed off" with "pissed" alone.

piss head somebody who is drunk quite often

plastered drunk

e.g. "He's plastered !"

play hookey to play truant

plimpsolls childrens non-laced sneakers

plod police man/woman

plonk cheap wine

e.g. "This plonk's not bad !"

plonker (1) penis, (2) fool

e.g. "you silly plonker !"

plus fours trousers

ponce a homosexual

pong a bad smell

pooh pooh to reject an idea

e.g. "He pooh pooh'd my idea !"

pools, the a weekly betting game based on the outcome

of soccer matches; run by Vernons and

Littlewoods (and possibly others)

pratt an insult

e.g. "you stupid pratt !"

preggers pregnant

pudding dessert

pull a bird meet a woman; pick up a girl

quite often shortened to 'pull'

e.g. "Did you pull ?"

pull a fast one to fool or swindle somebody

pull a pint hand pump beer into a glass

pull a stroke to outsmart

pull the other one I don't believe you

short form of "pull the other one, it has

bells on"

pull your pud to masterbate

pumps running shoes

punter a customer

purse a ladies wallet

put a sock in it to be quiet

put the anchors on to apply the brakes; to slow down

put the boot in to beat somebody up

put the kibosh on to put a stop to something

put the wind up to scare

Queer Street where you are if you don't have

any money

quiff a fancy hairstyle

randy horny

rave up a good party

readies cash

ropey flaky or dodgey

rozzer policeman

rug a wig; a toupee

rubbed the wrong way to upset somebody

salt a sailor

same to you with brass usually said in response to a derogatory

knobs on !! remark

sarnie a sandwich

scab a strike breaker

scallywag a mischevious person

scarper to run away fast, possibly avoiding


Scouser a native of Liverpool (see also Liverpudlian)

scrap a fight

scrubber a cheap or loose woman

shag to copulate

shake a leg to get a move on

shall I be mother ? shall I pour the tea ?

sheckels money

silly arse a foolish person

skivvy a domestic servant

slash to urinate

e.g. "I'm going for a slash."

smalls underwear

smart alec a clever person

snifter a drink of spirit

snog to kiss

snuff it to die

sod derogatory remark, derived from sodomy

soldiers bread cut into thin strips for dipping into

a boiled egg

so stick that in your usually said after a derogatory remark

pipe and smoke it !

sozzled drunk

spam a rather tasteless form of tinned meat

spanner a wrench

sparky an electrician

splice the main-brace to drink

spread a good meal; a feast

sprog a young child or baby, could also

mean illegitimate

spud a potato

squiffed drunk

stewed drunk

strides trousers, pants

subway an underpass

a pedestrian walkway beneath a road

swag stolen money; a thief's plunder

swing the lead a malingerer

swizz a swindle or cheat

swot somebody who studies

ta thankyou

Taffy a Welshman

ta muchly thankyou very much

Tandy Radio Shack

take French leave to leave without permission

taking the piss making fun of

tea leaf thief

terminus the end of the bus route

the smoke London

three sheets in the wind drunk

Tic Tac Man a bookmakers signaller

ticker the heart

tights pantyhose

"Time gentlemen please !" Usually said as the pub is closing,

so as to request that the patrons

finish their drinks.

tip a mess

e.g. "Your room is a tip !"

toff a posh person

tomato sauce ketchup

Tommy Rot nonsense

top sad extremely bad

torch flashlight

tosser see wanker

toss pot one who drinks too much

trainers running shoes

trollop not a nice girl

trousers pants

tube London Underground

tuck in schools it means cake, crisps,

sweets etc.

turf accountant betting shop owner

turn-ups trouser cuffs

turps turpentine

under the weather ill; sick

unmentionables underwear

vest a man's undershirt

wag a joker

wagging it to play truant

wallflower a woman who does not dance

wanger penis

wanker infers that the subject masturbates

weed a weak person

welly wanging the art of throwing wellington boots

white elephant a valuable, but useless article

willies, the nerves

willow a cricket bat

willy penis

wings fenders of a car

Winkle Pickers shoes with pointed toes

wireless a radio

wishy washy feeble; stupid


Charlie Gillett, The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll, 2nd ed., newly illustrated and expanded (1996),

Chapman, Robert L.  American Slang.  HarperPerennial, 1987.   Abridged edition of the New Dictionary of American Slang (Harper, 1986).

The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, Third Edition Copyright 1994, Columbia University Press.

Dictionary of contemporary slang - Tony Thorne.
Published by Bloomsbury / London. 1997.

The Encarta World English Dictionary, published by St. Martin's Press. 1999

Flexner, Stuart Berg, and Anne H. Soukhanov.  Speaking Freely: A Guided Tour of American English from Plymouth Rock to Silicon Valley.  Oxford University Press, 1997.  

Greil Marcus, Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century (1989),

Jon Savage, England's Dreaming: Sex Pistols and Punk Rock (1991)

Lighter, Jonathan E.; J. Ball; and J. O'Connor, eds.  Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang.  Random House, 1994 .  

Mark Hale, HeadBangers: The Worldwide Megabook of Heavy Metal Bands (1993)

Mark Slobin, Subcultural Sounds: Micromusics of the West (1993)

The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th Edition 1985, Britannica Corporation

The Oxford dictionary of modern slang - John Ayto / John Simpson.Published by Oxford University Press. 1992.

Partridge, Eric.  Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English.  Macmillan, 1985.   A classic, with 7,500 entries; first published in 1937.

Peter van der Merwe, Origins of the Popular Style (1989, reissued 1992),

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc

Wentworth, Harold and Flexner, Stuart Berg. Dictionary of American Slang. Crowell, 2d ed., 1975.

. - ߔ, , , 1992

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2009 .