This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. See our privacy statement
World Wide Words logo

Chambers Slang Dictionary

Jonathon Green’s name is familiar to every student of slang in the UK: he has been researching it for 25 years and is an authority on this most intriguing and intractable aspect of lexicography.

The cover of the Chambers Dictionary of Slang

The title makes it seem as though this is an entirely new book but in essence it is the third edition of the Cassell Dictionary of Slang. The change of publisher and the new edition have resulted in subtle changes in layout and content. Most significantly, entries have been presented in a different way — all the derivatives of a word are now placed together as sub-entries of the main word, rather than as individual entries. This technique, called nesting in the business, may seem a small change, even perhaps a fussy one, but it simplifies entries and highlights the relationships between terms. The opportunity has been taken to add items of recent slang, to rewrite definitions and improve the dating. To my eye — though this is a subjective view — the text is clearer and easier to read.

Slang being the seamy underside of language, you shouldn’t expect a positive view of life to emerge from its pages. Jonathon Green has computed (using his huge database of material that has since generated his magnum opus, the Oxford English Dictionary of slang) that among this book’s 85,000 words and phrases from the English-speaking world are 5,012 entries for crime and criminals, 4,589 for intoxicating liquor and its effects (with 3,976 more about drugs), 3,343 for money, 1,365 for penis, (and 1,131 for vagina), 1,740 for sexual intercourse, 945 for masturbation, 831 for death and dying and 219 for vomiting, but sweet FA (British slang, an abbreviation for sweet fuck-all) for anything caring, sharing or compassionate.

[Jonathon Green, Chambers Slang Dictionary, published by Chambers Harrap in October 2008; hardback, pp1477; ISBN-13: 978-0550-10439-7, ISBN-10: 0550104399, publisher's list price £30.00. US publication follows in 2009; meanwhile, American readers can obtain copies from Amazon Canada or UK or direct from the UK publishers.]

Page created 1 Nov. 2008
Last updated 4 Dec. 2010

Support World Wide Words.

Donate by selecting your currency and clicking the button.


Buy anything from Amazon and get me a small commission at no cost to you.

Buy from Amazon UK Buy from Amazon USA

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved. See the copyright page for notes about linking to and reusing this page. For help in viewing the site, see the technical FAQ. Your comments, corrections and suggestions are always welcome.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–2014. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/reviews/re-cha1.htm
Last modified: 4 December 2010.