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 when there is a clear difference between idiom and slang. Actually they, idiom and slang, are two different terms to be understood differently. If you look at the two words idiom and slang, you will see that in the English language the word slang is used as a noun as well as a verb. On the other hand, idiom exists only as a noun. Moreover, idiom has its origin in the late 16th century. Slang has its origin in Mid 18th century.

What is an Idiom?

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

He eats his own words often.

He is good for nothing.

This village is a God forsaken one.

He felt he was over the moon by his achievement.

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. One can find idioms and idiomatic expression in well-known and well-compiled lexicons and dictionaries.

Difference Between Idiom and Slang

What is Slang?

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. On the other hand, slang is often used in spoken language but very less in written language. Unlike idioms that can be found in dictionaries, you cannot find the slang terms in dictionaries. They are often heard in spoken English.

What is the difference between Idiom and Slang?

• An idiom refers to a group of words established by usage and having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words.

• On the other hand, slang is 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.

• Moreover, it can be said that there are special slang associated with different professions.

• Idioms are often used in literature and written English. On the other hand, slang is often used 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 in 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.

In this way, you can see that there is a clear difference between idiom and slang. Once you understand that clearly, you will be able to use each in its suitable context.

 

Images Courtesy:

  1. Jump the shark by Don Crowley (CC BY-SA 2.0)