It is often difficult to collect etymologies for slang terms, largely because slang is a phenomenon of speech, rather than written language and etymologies which are typically traced via corpus.

Matiello stresses that those agents who identify themselves as "young men" have "genuinely coined" these terms and choose to use them over "canonical" terms —like beautiful or sexy—because of the indexicalized social identifications the former convey.

Often, distinct subcultures will create slang that members will use in order to associate themselves with the group, or to delineate outsiders.

As subcultures are often forms of counterculture, which is understood to oppose the norm, it follows that slang has come to be associated with counterculture.