Slang is a type of language that consists of words and phrases that are regarded as very informal, are more common in speech than writing, and are typically restricted to a particular context or group of people1.
Few linguists have tried to clearly define what constitutes slang. Bethany K. Dumas and Jonathan Lighter argue that an expression should be considered «true slang» if it meets at least two of the following criteria:
It lowers, if temporarily, «the dignity of formal or serious speech or writing»; in other words, it is likely to be seen in such contexts as a «glaring misuse of register».
Its use implies that the user is familiar with whatever is referred to, or with a group of people who are familiar with it and use the term.
It is a taboo term in ordinary discourse with people of a higher social status or greater responsibility."
It replaces a well-known conventional synonym. This is done primarily to avoid the discomfort caused by the conventional item or by further elaboration.2
Of course, this classification is problematic as it either requires a thorough research involving large groups of people including those from «higher social» strata, or depends entirely upon researcher’s interpretation of what is «well-know» or «conventional». However, it provides a good starting point for deciding whether something can be considered slang or not.
With the appearance and wide spread of Internet, a phenomenon that involves an enormous amount of people, Internet language or slang become a central point for research interest for scholars throughout the world3. In early research, Internet slang was described as a set of acronyms and abbreviations as used in websites, ICQ chat rooms, blogs, SMS, and Internet forums. Then, one of the integrated part of Internet slang were considered to be new dialects such as LOLcat or Leet. There are a number of dictionaries and research works describing some aspects of Internet slang, like Internet acronyms, slang grammar etc4.
Over the past five years, the Internet has radically transformed the way people communicate, both locally and globally. This transformation is usually connected with the development of social networking sites.
Social network service is an online service, platform, or site that focuses on building and reflecting of social networks or social relations among people, e.g., who share interests and/or activities. Facebook.com is considered to be the main and the most developed social network in the English speaking. There are also many local social networks, like Studivz.net in Germany and Europe and Vkontakte.ru in Russia and former Soviet Union. The main purpose of every social network is to let members communicate and share their interests and activities. From this point of view, all active Facebook users form a certain internet subculture with internal rules, interests, problems and their own “internet dialect”.
This article argues that the appearance of social networks caused the evolution of internet slang and aims to analyze the slang of Facebook users both quantitatively and qualitatively.
The source for this research were online slang dictionaries (www.urbandictionary.com,www.onlineslangdictionary.com). They consists of a considerable number of Facebook slang lexica. To verify this data, a corpus of about 2000 Facebook conversations was collected (from wall posts, comments and statuses). This corpus was analyzed to find the most used slang words. The list of slang terms in this article consists of 54 entries. Most of them refer to user communication on Facebook.
Quite all of Facebook’s features depend on the idea that there are people the user likes to stay in touch and connect with. Whether these people are friends, family, coworkers, or acquaintances, once the user connect to them, they are considered Facebook friends. Thus, there is a large number of slang verbs that refer to searching, adding and removing friends on Facebook:
to de-face to remove a friend from your Facebook page
I just de-faced that girl from my Facebook page.
friend-surfing surfing your friend's friend lists on Facebook to find friends.
He is such a loser in the real social world, but has the longest friends list on Facebook thanks to 'friend-surfing' - mostly with fake pictures of himself.
to frignore to accept a friend request from someone on Facebook and then proceed to ignore them.
I thought this would be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, but instead I'm being frignored.
to refriend to add a friend in Facebook again, after having accidentally defriended them because you thought you misfriended them.
Dang, I had to refriend him on my Facebook account. I thought I had misfriended him but he turned out to be my Math professor.
to misfriend to accidentally make a friend request on a Facebook. Usually it is for someone you don't actually want to be a friend with.
to defriend to remove a friend from your Facebook because you misfriended them (accidentally "friended" them or added them as a friend).
I had to defriend this dude I thought I knew from my high school days, but it turned out I didn't. He was sending me all sorts of events spam!
to add new and old friends to your profile on Facebook.
to refreshbook to refresh the Facebook page every 3 seconds in hopes that someone has been posted or added on your page.
Only 3 people have confirmed her party so she keeps refreshbooking to see if more accept. They wont.
frientourage the aggregate of family members, friends, friends-of-friends, classmates, co-workers, admirers, etc.
eager-add to find and add somebody on Facebook that you have just met (within 12-24 hours).
Jane just got home from the bar and checked her email. She couldn't believe Sam had added her on Facebook already. She thought this was a bit of an eager-add.
Many separate terms describe people the user doesn’t know, but adds to his friend list for some reason:
Facebook Alzheimer's when you get a friend's request from someone that you have no idea where you know them from.
pirate friend the act of adding someone to Facebook who you do not know.
I have no idea, he's just my pirate friend.
pity add the process of, out of pity, adding as your friend on Facebook, a person that is not exactly your friend.
profile candy a highly attractive person who is your friend on Facebook.
has like 600 friends on Facebook,
what's with that?
Nah, they're not really friends, they're just Profile Candy. Didn't ya notice most of them were hotties?
picturefriend someone hot you added as a friend on Facebook solely for the reason of looking at their pictures.
"I saw you added
Maya on Facebook....I didn't know you knew her. She's pretty hot."
"I don't; she's just my picturefriend."
Facebrick the process of adding someone to your Facebook friends that you have no intention of contacting, interacting with or viewing in any way purely to grow the number of friends you have.
Your Friend: Wow you've
got like 200 friends on Facebook
Me/You: Yeah but most of them are Facebricks
A group of terms describes communication with friends on Facebook:
to facejecte when you send a message, wall post, or comment on someone else's Facebook page expecting a response, but you don't get one. Then you see them on Facebook for the next few days but they still never respond.
inbox rot to neither accept, nor decline a friend request from someone on Facebook. Used in situations when you don't want to accept someone's friend request, but you also don't want to be rude by declining them.
to facebox to send someone an inbox message on Facebook.
talked 'n blocked when finding an old foe on Facebook and sending them an insulting message and then quickly blocking them so as to avoid any retaliation on their part.
There is a separate noun to differ Facebook friends and friends in real life:
irlfriend a person who is your friend in real life, as opposed to a Facebook friend, who is most likely a complete stranger.
Jim, my buddy just hit me up to ask if I want to go to his party this
"Is this 'buddy' another one of your Facebook friends?"
"No, man, he's my irlfriend."
Other slang term describe all details of user communication on Facebook:
book-up a group of friends on Facebook that are planning to meet up and use Facebook chat.
friendzy the state one finds himself in when located at the “People you may know: section of Facebook, relentlessly requesting people on the instantly refreshing, never-ending list to be their "friend".
Desmond: Oh, snap! 8 new
friends in 10 seconds! Now that's what I call a friendzy!
Wayne: It be for real!
like-out to give a thumbs up to everything on someone's Facebook profile by using the "Like" function.
Red Cup Picture Red Cup Pictures are photos, traditionally appearing on Facebook, which generally depict some sort of partying. The etymology of the term comes from the fact that most of these photos show one or more people holding red plastic disposable cups which are commonly used for alcoholic beverages at youth gatherings.
Rachel: I just looked through all of my Facebook "added by others" pictures. What a pleasant walk down memory lane!
Michael: How many Red Cup pictures?
Rachel: Too many.
Two terms describe the action, when a person doesn’t want to be seen on Facebook and logs out shortly after logging in:
prairie dogging logging into Facebook just long enough to check for updates before immediately logging back out. Usually done to prevent a boss, spouse, or child from observing your activities.
Sorry, can't chat right now. Just prairie dogging it so the boss doesn't catch me using Facebook on office time.
to hate click when you are on Facebook and you see a person come online who you know is going to talk to you and you don't want to talk to them, so you sign off quickly and swiftly.
Hey, did you talk to Marc today?
John: Nope. He was gonna talk to me on Facebook, but I hate clicked him.
The next large group of Facebook slang terms describes the activities connected with Facebook status. Facebook status is a short line used to show other users what a person is doing or thinking about right now. Most of the terms that refer to Facebook status actions describe the inappropriate use of this feature:
statiquette - to have proper etiquette when updating ones Facebook statuses.
1: Did you see Stacy's Facebook status?
Guy 2: Yeah how could i miss it, its updated every 5 minutes, she has the worst statiquette.
status commandeering the act of two or more people taking over someone's status on Facebook to hold a conversation completely irrelevant to anything the status's owner was talking about.
has a PhD in chill'n a good Facebook status, like having a PhD in science but cooler
twitbooking the act of constantly updating your Facebook status.
status idiot a person that updates their Facebook status with information readers know to be untrue, overtly obvious, or showing a lack of common sense.
act of planning with a group of friends to all have the same Facebook
status during the same period of time
Hey fellas, during Barack Obama's inauguration, let's all copystat by writing "You'll all see when things don't change" on our Facebook statuses!
profile saga An entry in the status box on a Facebook profile which is longer than one line and is attempting to sum up very complicated emotions and/or experiences that would make more sense in a blog posting.
Sarah just updated her Facebook page and from reading her profile saga it looks like she's been having a tough week.
The act of likeing peoples status on Facebook regardless of what it may say or mean.
Hey man what are you doing?
Paul- Just liking everything on Facebook, I have been sargoning on Facebook all day.
The next two groups of slang words are connected with two important Facebook functions: wall posts and tagging.
The user can identify people in your photos by tagging the images. Some slang terms describe the process of tagging referring to particular situations when the use of tagging feature annoys other users:
obsessive compulsive disorder which is when a person (generally a
guy) that tags all the females on Facebook around their crotch
Sophie: I was wearing that tight aerobics suit when tjark took that picture that later he crotchtagged me on Facebook.
tag bomb when a person is tagged in an ugly/awkward/compromising photo they obviously do not want other people seeing.
untagging Spree the act of going on Facebook and untagging yourself from incriminating photos.
untagger someone who untags himself from a photo on Facebook because they don’t like the photo or don’t want to be seen with the other people in the photo.
self-tag-fag one who tags themselves on other people's posted photos on Facebook.
Mike, did you see Logan's new uploaded Facebook
album from spring break in cabo?
- Yea brah, he tagged himself in every picture! Even the ones he wasn't in.
- What a lame self-tag-fag.
tagafull A picture on Facebook where your friends tag you as a crazy character, and the character has a subtitle.
Dave: "Omg.. Yesterday, I was on Facebook, and Jan tagged me as the crazy one, and the little figure was a crazy clown! It was a weird Tagafull."
The next group describes the wall posts and abbreviations used in wall communication:
ghost post A comment on a Facebook item (e.g. status, note, etc) that was removed by the author due to a) misspelling, b) stupid remark, c) awkward input, or d) other.
XYZ commented on your note.
Me: ...where's the comment? Jeez, way to ghost post, XYZ.
wall squatter People who only comment (or reply to comments) on their own Facebook wall while ignoring everyone else's.
Crystal is a wall squatter on Facebook who talks too much about what her kids are doing.
thffb Acronym for "too hot for Facebook".
Said by those wishing to comment on revealing, sexually suggestive, or just plain sexy Facebook pictures that they're friends have posted.
npp acronym for "nice profile picture" when making a comment on Facebook
posting of a message on a public internet wall, such as Facebook.
boom boom boom To blow up someone's wall on Facebook at least three times in a row before they respond back.
She boom boom boomed me on Facebook, so I replied back.
wall back When somebody writes on somebody’s wall on Facebook and prompts a reply on their own wall.
pull a corey The action of removing one's own Facebook wall post when this one happens to be embarrassing.
The last two groups of slang terms describe Internet addictions Facebook can cause and security problems:
faced-out When a person has spent so long on Facebook they can't take it anymore.
Facebookicide Removing yourself from Facebook.
how come boris isn't on Facebook
Rupert: Think it was a sad case of facebookicide
falking To spend an undefined - but inordinate - amount of time going through the links, interests, friends, relationships, photos, profile, etc. of a person on Facebook.
retard People who sit around on Facebook all day, poking each other or tagging friends in photos.
what are those Retards doing on Facebook?
TMF Syndrome Too Much Facebook Syndrome is a condition when a person is very addicted to Facebook.
TMF Syndrome is contagious. Once a friend tags you, you'll be hooked.
FTD Facebook Transmitted Disease, a virus that will send, and post, messages to your friends on Facebook.
I have NO idea my Facebook sent it out! I must have an FTD.
Overall, it can be seen that the largest grout of slang terms describes friendship and user connections. It consists of 27 words (pirate friend, Facebook Alzheimer's, Prairie Dogging, Facejected, frignore, irlfriend, facebox, Book-up, sargoning, friendzy, inbox rot, like-out, Collecting Faces, frientourage, Hate click, pity add, de-face, friend-surfing, refriend, misfriend, Defriend, eager-add, Facebrick, picturefriend, Talked 'n Blocked).
The next group of slang terms refers to status feature of Facebook network – 7 words (statiquette, status commandeering, to have a PhD in chill'n, Twitbooking, Refreshbooking, status idiot, copystat, Profile Saga).
The last groups refer to other Facebook features – 20 words:
Wall entries and comments (ghost post, wall squatter, thffb, npp, to wallee, boom boom boom, Wall Back, pull a corey,)
Internet addiction (faced-Out, Facebookicide, falking, Retard, TMF Syndrome)
Tagging (crotchtagger, tag bomb, self-tag-fag, Untagger, Tagafull, Untagging Spree)
This research based on a rather small corpus shows several tendencies in Facebook slang usage:
Most of analyzed Facebook slang terms refer to Facebook features and common problems of users (tag bomb, boom boom boom, ghost post).
Most of slang terms are particular to Facebook subculture and refer to certain Facebook realities.
The main function of Facebook slang is to name Facebook realities that don’t have corresponding units in conventional lexica. Presumably, this can shorten Facebook messages and make users’ communication easier. There is also a system of synonyms for most important terms: Facebrick, pirate friend.
The largest group of Facebook slang terms is connected with the most important Facebook functions, such as communication with friends.
There are very few slang synonyms for neutral Facebook lexica (wall, news feed etc.)
The main goal of this article was to give a description of a small part of most used Facebook slang terms, and analyze their use and connection with Facebook realities. The research of Facebook slang lexica is an inexhaustible research field for linguists. I suppose, Facebook slang vocabulary will become richer and will grow with the development of new Facebook features, and Facebook users will create new slang words to maintain their group identity.
Dumas, Bethany K., Lighter, Jonathan Is Slang a Word for Linguists? American Speech 53, 1978.
Crystal, David Language and the Internet. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2001.
Williams, Robin, Cummings, Steve Jargon: An Informal Dictionary of Computer Terms. University of Michigan, 1993.
Oxford Dictionary of English. Oxford University Press, 2005.
1 Oxford Dictionary of English. Oxford University Press, 2005. – 391.
2 Dumas, Bethany K., Lighter, Jonathan Is Slang a Word for Linguists? American Speech 53, 1978. – 14-15.
3 Crystal, David Language and the Internet. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2001. – 56-60.
4 Williams, Robin, Cummings, Steve Jargon: An Informal Dictionary of Computer Terms. University of Michigan, 1993.