What one first observes with regard to core slang morphology are the violations of the normal rules of word formation in standard speech. These violations may be related to use of affixes that are rare or absent in standard English; of affixes which are novel or functionally fossilized in standard English; and morphological structures that are rather difficult to determine.

Among the novel affixes let's mention the prefixes pe-. ke-, ge-, -he-, je- as in zazzle "sex appeal" - pizzazz "zest" thob "to be credulous" - kathob "vague object" - kazoo "resonator" zook "prostitute" - gazook "tramp" wallop "to hit hard" - chewallop "bang" moke "dull fellow" - jamoke "noisy party" tootsie - patootsie "beauty"

The use of novel affixes, however, may be less productive than that of old affixes that have become fossilized in standard speech. Slang here has a de-fossilization effect. Examples:

suffix -um as in jizzum = jizz "semen" in wampum "money"

A novel suffix that is diagnostic of slang is -o, which has a generally intensive force with strongly derogatory undertones. It is common is expletives like whammo! "bang" vocatives, like Danno "Daniel" stage names, like Groucho, for Julius Marx adjectives, like stinko "drunken, macho stump-words like ammo "ammunition" More recently -o has become a virtual morphemic fad in pseudo-Hispanicisms like floppo "failure dyno primo Other suffixes -erty flibberty-gibbet "scatter-brain" -ledy tiddledy-winks (a cup and disk game) higgledy-piggeledy

Infixes ebe and epe as in hullabaloo lollapalooza

eme, me, em, e as in thing-uma-jig "object" "whatever2 rig-ma-role "complication" thing-um-bob "object" flumm-a-diddle "nonsense"

Roger Wescott mentions a striking example of defossizliation : Liquid and nasal infixes appear both right before the nucleus and right after the nucleus of a word; their function seems to be vaguely intensive. Examples: bleep = beep "high pitched sound" scrooch = scooch "to sidle (on a sofa)" chunk = chuck "to toss" purp = pup "young dog"

These prefixes, suffixes and infixes are not listed as productive in present-day English word formation; but they are surely productive in slang!

Along the lines sketched here it might be possible to list a few principles for slang morphology and slang phonology. Nevertheless, some slang words still remain puzzling: Let's consider the word lollapalooza. The word exhibits palindromy, in loll diagnostic sounds, in -ooz- diagnostic affix pa- But what gives the word its most conspicuous lexical abnormality is the fact that its immediate grammatical constituents are unclear: loll-apa-looza lolla-palooza loll-a-pa-loo-za loll-a-pa-looz-a

One last point: Not only is slang characterized by a high degree of synonymality, but - at least if core slang items are considered - also by hyperpolymorphy, i.e. the occurrence of a plurality of alternants for most forms. This profusion of forms is equally evident among bound and free morphemes. As examples I might again adduce the examples of reduplicatives: ablaut reduplicatives, and rhyme reduplicatives.

Rhyming Slang

Cockney				English

Adam And Eve			Believe
Almond Rocks             	Socks
Apple and Pears          	Stairs
Artful Dodger             	Lodger   
Ball of Chalk              	Walk
Band of Hope             	Soap
Bird & Lime                	Time
Boat Race                 	 Face
Brixton Riot              	 Diet
Brown Bread               	Dead
Bubble and Squeak         	Greek
Cock & Hen                 	Ten
Cream Crackered     	Knackered
Currant Bun                	Sun
Daisy Roots                	Boots
Dancing Fleas             		Keys
Dig the Grave             		Shave
Dog and Bone             	 	Phone
Drum and Fife            		Knife
Duchess of Fife           		Wife
Elephant's Trunk          	Drunk
Fork and Knife             	Wife
Forsyte Saga              		 Lager
Ginger Beer                		Queer
God Forbid                		 Kid
Twist and Twirl          	 	Girl
Weeping Willow           		Pillow
Gold Watch                 		Scotch
Kane and Able             		 Table
Lemon and Lime            	 Crime
Ocean Pearl                		Girl
One Time Looker           	 Hooker
Ones & Twos                	Shoes
Oxford Scholar             	Dollar
Paraffin Lamp             		Tramp
Pat and Mick               		Sick
Porky Pies                 		Lies
Rhythm and Blues          	 Shoes
Schindler's List          		Pissed
Skin And Blister          		Sister
Strange'n'Weird            	Beard
Trouble and Strife         	Wife
Tumble down the sink       	Drink
Whistle and Flute        		Suit  

    Simon J. Foote (, 1997


An example involving bases only is

biff = boff = bop "to hit".

An example involving suffixes only is

geezle = geezer = geezo "old man".

And an example involving both bases and affixes is

dibbus = diddie = dingle "thing"

A phonologicalLy special case of hyperpolymorphy is provided by rhyme-tags or echo compounds which usually have denotatively meaningless components that arrange themselves in consonantal apophonic series. Examples were adduced under the heading of rhyme reduplicatives already


cheezy-peezy "Jesus" ugly - bugly "repulsive" holy - moly "Moses" palsy - walsy "excessively friendly"

Some cases of polymorphy involve the pyramiding of syllables. An example is the series of related slang-expressions for a stage-play that has scored a dramatic box-office success: smash -smasher - smasheroo - smasheroony - smasheroonio