Slang City Mail

Click here to get this free weekly newsletter delivered to your e-mailbox! Want to see more? Go back to All the Words main page.

March 16, 2006

Slang of the Week: whack (verb)
to murder

Todd was offered $5000 to whack Steve, but after learning about Steve’s affair with his wife, he did it for free .

Celebrity quote:
“Well, I don’t think there have been as many whackings in the New York metropolitan area in fifteen years as we’ve had in one season. At the same time, I think for a mob show, we’re actually restrained”
- David Chase, creator of the mafia family TV series, The Sopranos

Many years ago, I read that the Inuit had a hundred words for snow, which I found very romantic. I was later disappointed to learn that they don’t really. Inuit is an agglutinative language—they put roots together to make longer compound words. You could easily count more than a hundred, but your list would include things like “wet-snow,” “a-lot-of-wet-snow” and “a-lot-of-dirty-wet-snow.”

But while the Inuit language doesn’t back up the theory that vocabulary is a product of your environment, gangster slang for killing people might. Just looking at phrasal verbs, you can knock someone off, rub someone out, do someone in, snuff someone out, bump someone off, blow someone away or take someone out.

And of course, you can waste them, whack them or off them. Or, as Tony Soprano did with his former associate Big Pussy, you can clip them, wrap them in chains and drop them in the ocean to sleep with the fishes.

What’s new at Slang City?
"Ever since I was a child, folks have thought they had me pegged, because of the way I am." Translated quotes from Capote.