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THESAURUS OF AMERICAN SLANG by Robert...

THESAURUS OF AMERICAN SLANG by Robert L. Chapman (HarperPerennial: $12.95). It’s unlikely that Peter Mark Roget ever imagined most of the 17,000 synonyms featured in Robert Chapman’s intriguing thesaurus. It’s significant that the words with most alternatives relate to sex and drugs: Chapman lists 80 terms for the male genitalia, 209 for various stages of intoxication and a whopping 225 for marijuana, from “Acapulco gold” to “zoom.” Although he notes that the large number of terms for narcotics “probably reflects both a need for coded references to an illegal substance and a desire to be chic and up-to-date, in addition to the need to distinguish varieties,” he leaves the reader curious to know the origins of such slang terms as “scarf” (for “eat”) and “drunk as a boiled owl.” Valuable reading--and an invaluable reference for non-native speakers and students of popular culture.


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