nt) KEY NOUN: Slang
- A parent. Often used in the plural: had to stay home with the rents.
Short for parentOur Living Language
When young people talk about their rents,
that is, their parents, they are using a slang term that is of interest to language historians, if not necessarily thrilling for parents themselves. The term is a prime example of one of the fundamental characteristics of slang, which continually creates novel ways of expressing what are often rather ordinary things (if parents may be considered ordinary things). Slang has recently produced two expressions for "parents" that have gained wide currencyrents
and parental units.
Both expressions demonstrate slang's use of unusual or creative linguistic means to achieve novelty of expression. While there are many slang terms, such as bod
for body or rad
for radical, that result from the clipping of unstressed syllables, rents
is a clipping that drops a stressed syllable, much like the similar term za,
"pizza." The desire to coin new ways of referring to things also leads speakers of slang to use circumlocutions like knuckle sandwich
for "punch." Parental units
falls into this category. It plays on the jargon of bureaucrats and social science, in which the world is viewed as so much data waiting to be quantified. The appearance of terms such as rents
and parental units
also shows that all available styles and levels of language can be grist for slang's mill
so long as the material is perceived as irreverent, funny, or just plain cool.