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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Scooch and Slang

Last week, while working on my latest story, I wanted to use the word scooch, but had no idea how to spell it.  (Scootch was my best guess, and I also considered skooch and skewch and some other variations.)  The spell check program on my computer didn't like any of those options, and when I turned to Dictonary.com to try and find the word there, I had no luck.  I'd used the word all my life.  My parents use it, my husband uses it, my kids use it.  But I was beginning to wonder if maybe it wasn't a "real" word -- if it was just a word our family made up at some point.

Frustrated, I mentioned my troubles on Facebook.  Almost immediately, a friend from high school offered the correct spelling, scooch.  (I have to admit, it just doesn't look right to me.  And my spell check program doesn't accept it, either.) This time when I entered it into the search engine at Dictionary.com, the word came up. Later, several other friends wrote to say that they use the word all the time, too.  I was relieved to know that it is a real word!

I use scooch most often as a verb meaning "to move or push a short distance".  It can also be used as a noun, meaning "a small amount or distance".

It's much too hot for you to lean against me like that.  
Please, scooch over!

The figurines in the display case were crowded together, 
making them difficult to see.  The woman moved a few of them 
just a scooch, to space them out a little.

It turns out that scooch is slang.  So what, exactly, is slang?  Well, slang is a noun meaning "very informal usage in vocabulary and idiom that is characteristically more metaphorical, playful, elliptical, vivid, and ephemeral than ordinary language."

I found two (similar) quotes about slang that I really like, and thought I'd share them here:

"All slang is metaphor, 
and all metaphor is poetry."
 ~ Gilbert Keith Chesterton

"Slang is the 
poetry of everyday life." 
~ S.I. Hayakawa

Our family uses slang all the time.  Here are a few examples of slang that you might hear around our house, other than the word scooch:

Chill out, dude!
Wow, that artwork is so cool!
I don't want to watch that movie -- it stinks!
You're bothering me.  Buzz off!

Do you ever use the word scooch?  What other slang words can you think of that are commonly used by you and the people in your life?

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