A Caleb Crain review (in The Nation) of a couple of new slang dictionaries (Stone the Crows: Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang, edited by John Ayto and John Simpson, and The Routledge Dictionary of Modern American Slang and Unconventional English, edited by Tom Dalzell) has some interesting things to say about slang in general, and makes this nice point about the impossibility of pinning it down:
To a lexicographer, slang’s abundance may present an even greater challenge than its definition. Although humans coin words as prolifically as bees make honey, dictionaries of standard English only include lexemes that have become a stable currency among strangers. Slang is not confined by this useful limit. My boyfriend and I refer to going online as checking our bids, in memory of a bygone fascination with eBay. Because we once elaborated the no-chicken label on a box of vegetarian broth into a fowl-friendly warning—”No, no, chicken! Keep away from the boiling water!”—we now always call the broth no-no chicken. The glossy young rich who crowd us out of our favorite restaurants are known to us as kittenheads, on account of a bus-side ad I once saw that juxtaposed an enormous fluffy white feline head, a crystal goblet full of glistening diced organ meats and the slogan “Next Stop, Uptown.” This is just the tip of the iceberg of our private slang, and we’re only two people. Multiply our sample by all the groups, large and small, who improvise with the English language for their own convenience and pleasure, and you see the problem. Slang is virtually infinite.