Difference Between Idiom and Slang

Idiom vs Slang

Idiom and Slang are two terms that are often confused as words that denote one and the same thing. Actually they are two different terms to be understood differently. An idiom refers to a group of words established by usage and having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words as in the expressions ‘over the moon’ and ‘see the light’.

While, the Concise Oxford Dictionary defines slang as “words, phrases and uses that are regarded as very informal and are often restricted to special contexts or are peculiar in a specified profession, class etc.”  There are different kinds of slang too such as village slang, school boy slang, medicine slang and the like. In other words it can be said that there are special slang associated with different professions.

As a matter of fact idioms are used widely in the English language. Look at the following sentences

1. He eats his own words often.

2. He is good for nothing.

3. This village is a God forsaken one.

4. He felt he was over the moon by his achievement.

5. I can see some light in the tunnel.

In the sentences given above you can find the idiomatic expressions such as ‘eat his own words’, ‘good for nothing’, ‘god forsaken’, ‘over the moon’ and ‘see some light’. It is important to know that idioms are often used in literature and written English. On the other hand slang is used often in spoken language but very less in written language. This is also an important difference between idiom and slang.

One can find idioms and idiomatic expression is well-known and well-compiled lexicons and dictionaries. On the other hand you cannot find the slang terms in dictionaries. They are often heard in spoken English. This is the difference between idiom and slang.