Green’s Dictionary of Slang

How to Use the Online Green’s Dictionary of Slang

Finding Entries

Using the Browse section

If you want to investigate a group of slang words from the same area of the alphabet, the Browse section shows an alphabetically-ordered list of dictionary entries. You can hover the mouse over the approximate area of the alphabet you are interested in and click to load a page full of entry headwords. Then you can use the ‘previous’ and ‘next page’ buttons to find the exact page you need.

Searching by headword

When you know exactly which word you want to learn about, you can use a simple search by headword. This option is also available on the home page and in the upper-right corner of most other pages. The search input in the upper right corner will offer you suggested entries as you type them and you can click, or use the arrow and return keys, to open the one you want.

Searching by history, meaning, and usage

Available for subscribers only. To help you investigate a certain area of slang more deeply, the ‘search by history, meaning, and usage’ section allows you to find words in the dictionary based on properties such as the time period they are recorded in, the groups of people who have used them, their etymology, and their definitions.

You can begin to build up your search query using the ‘+ add search term’ button, which opens a menu of search possibilities.

Menu options in italic or with italic text are based on searches of the exact text of the dictionary. When using those search options your query should closely match the text you want to find in the dictionary. Searches are always case-insensitive.

Searching for quotations

Available for subscribers only. If you are not interested in the entries themselves and just want to find examples of words in use, you can also search for quotations independently. You can search by date, country, author, title, and bibliographical reference, as well as within quotation text itself. As in the ‘history, meaning, and usage’ search, fields shown in italics match the exact text (though case-insensitively) within the dictionary.

Reading Entries

The typographical system used in entries is similar to the print edition of Green’s Dictionary of Slang. If in doubt as to what a particular lettering style means, refer to the ‘How to Use’ section from the original dictionary.

Citation display

Available for subscribers only. By default the historical citations accompanying each entry are hidden from display and replaced by timelines showing only their dates. You can hover the mouse pointer over the tick marks for each quotation on the timeline in order to reveal a pop-over display of the quotations from that date.

Alternatively you can show a full table of all the citations for a particular sense by clicking the Show Quotations button.

If you want to see all the quotations for all senses of an entry, click the Show Quotations button in the sidebar of the entry to open the complete entry display. You can also click Hide Quotations in order to hide all the quotations for an entry at once.

Within each citation a flag marker indicates which regional variety of English is illustrated by the quotation. These are as follows:

United Kingdom British English
United States American (US) English
Australia Australian English
New Zealand New Zealand English
Canada Canadian English
Ireland Irish English
South Africa South African English
West Indies West Indies English*
India Indian English
(citation not flagged)
* There being no politically-neutral flag representing the whole of the West Indies or the Caribbean, the flag of the West Indies cricket team is used instead

Clicking on an underlined title within a citation will open the relevant entry in the bibliography.

Using the Bibliography

Available for subscribers only. Green’s Dictionary of Slang is accompanied by a non-exhaustive bibliography of over 9,000 slang sources. Sources used in the dictionary are generally included in the bibliography if they are cited three or more times; there is limited coverage of sources cited fewer than three times.

Works are alphabetized by the surname of the main author, editor, or translator. All works with an author of unknown identity appear under the name ‘Anonymous’. Periodicals and similar corporate publications are alphabetized by their titles. More information on each source can often be found by clicking on the title.

In the bibliography, dates of early plays are usually dates of performance or licence, rather than printed dates, unless these are not available. Additionally, the listing of Internet sources in the bibliography has been completely reworked since the print edition (2010): there is no longer a separate bibliography of online sources, which are now interspersed into the main alphabetical listing of print sources; and dates now more closely reflect the years of publication or availability of the website in question, generally on the basis of information from the Internet Archive.