What is "trick" in slang? A comprehensive expert guide - 33rd Square (2024)

by Nelson Ayers

As an expert in data analysis and tech trends, I‘m fascinated by the evolution of language, especially slang terms like "trick." This word has some nuanced and interesting slang meanings that give insight into urban culture and societal attitudes. In my extensive research, I‘ve discovered the various contexts and connotations of "trick" when used in slang. Let me walk you through what I‘ve learned!

"Trick" as prostitution slang

One of the most common slang uses of "trick" relates to prostitution and the sex trade:

  • A "trick" is slang for a sex act performed in exchange for payment, usually with a prostitute. It directly refers to an act of prostitution.

  • "Turning tricks" means working as a prostitute, or performing sex acts professionally.

  • A "trick pad" is a brothel – a place where sex is sold.

  • "Tricking" can refer to either paying for sex as a customer, or selling sex as a prostitute.

This slang use of "trick" in a prostitution context originated in the 1930s or earlier in America. The first printed example is in the book "A Dictionary of American Slang" from 1934.

Likely it derives from the idea of "tricking" someone out of money in exchange for sex. The prostitute performs a "trick" to swindle the customer.

YearSlang Reference
1934"Trick – an act of prostitution." (A Dictionary of American Slang)
1961"She hustles tricks for Rosie. She turns ten tricks a night…" (A Dictionary of American Slang)
2003"Remember to get paid first, and don‘t let a trick sweet talk you out of your money." (The whor*‘s Story, by Tyler Stoddard Smith)

As you can see, the "trick as prostitution" usage spans decades in American slang. Next I‘ll explore how "trick" also conveys deceit and manipulation more broadly.

"Trick" to mean deceit or pranks

Beyond specifically referencing sex work, "trick" can also generally refer to any kind of deceitful act, prank, or scam:

  • "She got tricked into giving away her personal data."

  • "I can‘t believe I fell for your sneaky trick!"

  • "He played an April Fools‘ Day trick on his brother by switching the salt and sugar."

  • "Her lying was just a dirty trick to manipulate me."

So you can "trick" someone by misleading them or intentionally fooling them. It‘s an underhanded act of deception. This meaning has evolved from old French "triche" meaning "deceit" or "trickery."

Some examples of deceitful "tricks":

  • undercover cops performing "tricks" to arrest people
  • tricks to make someone look foolish as a prank
  • tricks to scam money out of people

So in summary, as slang "trick" can refer to deceitful or manipulative acts – ranging from harmless pranks to criminal scams.

"Trick" for skills and talent

"Trick" can also positively mean a clever or skilful act. This is especially common in fields like magic, stunt performance, and dance:

  • A magician does card tricks, coin tricks, and other sleight-of-hand tricks to amaze their audience.

  • Skateboarders and BMX riders do complex tricks and stunts.

  • Breakdancers incorporate acrobatic tricks into their dance routines.

  • Rappers showcase metaphorical lyrical "tricks."

So a "trick" here displays talent – not deceit. However, the cleverness and showmanship required links back to the idea of deception and illusion.

A few examples:

FieldExamples of "Tricks"
Magicmaking coins disappear, guessing cards, etc
Stuntsflip tricks on a bike, skateboard tricks, parkour
Danceheadspins, flips, freezes, floats
Rappuns, wordplay, flows

In these contexts, performing a good "trick" demonstrates skills and earns respect.

Other slang meanings

"Trick" has some additional slang meanings too:

  • "Trick out" means to decorate or equip something in an elaborate, fancy way. Like a "tricked out" car with custom paint, rims, stereo, etc.

  • A "trick" can be a gullible person who is easy to fool or manipulate. As in "That guy is an easy trick."

  • "Tricks" can refer to a woman‘s female friends. Like "Where are your tricks at tonight?"

  • "Tricks" can mean current business or ways of living. For example, "How‘s tricks?" as a casual way of asking "How‘s business?" or "How have you been?"

Regional variations

"Trick" sees some interesting regional slang variations:

  • In the UK, to "trick" someone means to deceive them or play a trick on them.

  • In the American South, "tricks" can specifically mean customers of a prostitute.

So in summary, as an expert I‘m fascinated by the nuances of slang terms like "trick." It can convey deceit and manipulation – but also clever talent. The richness of meaning gives insights into people‘s perspectives on sexuality, ethics, and skills. Slang is a window into culture! Let me know if you have any other slang words you want me to explore.

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What is "trick" in slang? A comprehensive expert guide - 33rd Square (2024)

FAQs

What is the Holmes theory of slang? ›

Slang Word

Theory of Holmes (2001) states that people in a society can speak several types of languages according to the different social situations they encounter. People do have to know whether they are in an informal or formal situation. When people speak, they must understand well about the situation around them.

What is slang in sociolinguistics? ›

Slang is the informal language used by people on the street, so to speak. Slang usually develops spontaneously and sometimes will cross over into formal speech once the taboo of using that particular word in formal settings has dissolved. Slang can be an incredibly powerful force in the development of a language.

What does Holmes mean in slang? ›

Noun. holmes (plural not attested) (slang) An informal term of address, like man or dude. Hey, holmes!

What was Holmes theory? ›

Holmes theorized that convection currents move through the mantle the same way heated air circulates through a room, and radically reshape the Earth's surface in the process.

What is slang according to experts? ›

linguistics. slang, unconventional words or phrases that express either something new or something old in a new way. It is flippant, irreverent, indecorous; it may be indecent or obscene.

What are the 4 types of slang language? ›

Types and Meanings of Slang Language in Social Media Regarding the type of slang. Allan & Burridge (2006) identifies five types with the inclusion of fresh and creative types, flippant, imitative, acronym and clipping.

Which is the best definition of slang? ›

: an informal nonstandard vocabulary composed typically of coinages, arbitrarily changed words, and extravagant, forced, or facetious figures of speech. slang adjective. slangily.

What is Holmes English language theory? ›

Females express more appreciation towards the other in their discourse (positive politeness), whereas males show consideration and respect (ne- gative politeness). According to Holmes, women are more polite using this type of polite- ness, that is, she equates politeness with positive politeness.

What is the Holmes legal theory? ›

At its most basic, the theory is an attempted refutation of most previous definitions of the law. Holmes believed that the law should be defined as a prediction, most specifically, a prediction of how the courts behave.

What is Holmes Badman theory? ›

Law is properly characterized from the point of view of what Holmes calls the “bad man.” “If you want to know the law and nothing else, you must look at it as a bad man, who cares only for the material consequences which such knowledge enables him to predict, and not as a good one, who finds his reasons for conduct, ...

What is Holmes code switching theory? ›

According to Holmes (1992) code switching occurs when the speaker shifted their language from one language to another. Code switching is switched essentially between sentence. In other words, Code switching can occur when speakers change their language from one language to another.

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