Urban Dictionary makes you look current on social pages. Ever start to read a comment thread on Facebook and *palmface* because you had no idea what half the symbols, abbreviations, and phrases meant? Ever chicken out asking the meanings because you were afraid to look out of touch? Well, Urban Dictionary is your friend.
Urban Dictionary is up to the minute. Unlike print dictionaries of slang and colloquialisms, that come out every few years (the most recent I could find on Amazon was 2006) Urban Dictionary almost instantly offers popular expressions, emoticons, acronyms, and words.
Urban Dictionary is free. At your fingertips at all times, weightless and at no charge.
Urban Dictionary will tell you when a saying is passe. There’s almost always a time frame mentioned for the word or phrase. I looked up ‘shizzle’ and it described it as being used a great deal in the 21st century. I looked up ‘cool’ – and one definition said from the 1950s to present.
If you’re looking for evergreen phraseology it’s probably not here. Evergreen, meaning a phrase or word that will be used forever and never go stale, like ‘pretty’ or ‘nice’ as opposed to ‘hipster’ or ‘groovy.’ Once a word or phrase is entered into UD, it’s there forever, and even words as evergreen as ‘nice’ are used with different inflections to infer additional meanings today than they had twenty years ago. If you’re writing a novel or story keep in mind that colloquialisms can date your material, ya dig?
Only literary snobs shun information sources. A writer on Facebook posted about having given herself a headache trying to figure out an acronym she’d seen in a friend’s post, so I looked it up on UD and provided the link and the definition. She surprised me when she rather snottily responded that she didn’t consider UD a legitimate source of information, and I rather snottily returned that I wasn’t the one who gave myself a headache trying to figure out the acronym. I personally love exploring new sources of information, and appreciate how much I can learn by surfing the internet. When you turn your nose up at any information source, you’re saying you have nothing left in the world to learn. That kind of arrogance just begs ridicule from me.
Urban Dictionary is a welcome and fun addition to my reference list. In addition to looking up slang that’s puzzling, UD also has a “Word of the Day” feature, and a word game (under maintenance at this writing). Not bad for a freebie reference.