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An Abridged Dictionary of Cannabis Slang

Pot. Grass. Weed. Wikipedia lists 1,200 slang names for cannabis alone, with many more expressions to describe marijuana quality, its effects and the people who smoke it.

The long history of prohibition gave rise to the many slang terms, letting cannabis users talk amongst themselves and avoid alerting the law. Slang changes and evolves. As authorities become wise to what one word means, that’s a signal to change the language. And of course coming up with slang names is just fun.

word map of weed slang

Wikipedia notes that many slang words for cannabis date to the jazz era of the 1920s, when it was called weed, reefer, gauge and jive. New slang names, like trees, came into use in the early 2000s. When Canada legalized cannabis, the Canadian government tried to help consumers by publishing a list of weed slang, since removed from the government website but immortalized by Buzzfeed. Included are obscure words like errl and purp, which must be popular with the stoners in the federal bureaucracy. 

A Short List of Weed Slang

Here are some of the more common slang terms for cannabis.

420 Refers to the time of day when weed is smoked. According to Huffington Post, this tradition was started in 1971 by a group of pot-smoking teenagers in California who would met at 4:20 pm every day to get high.

710 Used to celebrate dabs and cannabis concentrates, the number 710 spells oil when placed upside down backward.

Blunt Although it now refers to any joint, the term is derived from using a Phillies Blunt cigar wrapper to hold cannabis.

Bogart The warning “don’t Bogart that joint” means don’t take more than your fair share. It indeed references the movie star with the ubiquitous ciggie.

Humphrey Bogart

 

Chronic Means either a very frequent weed smoker or a very strong strain. In what may be an apocryphal story, Dictionary.com says Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre developed the malapropism chronic after smoking hydroponic marijuana for the first time. Snoop is quoted saying “... we got so...high, [we] said, ‘hydrochronic.’ And that’s when we started calling it chronic.'”

Dank Originally meaning unpleasant, swamp-like things, this term now describes marijuana of the best quality.

Doobie Another name for a joint, its origin is unknown, although it may be related to dobby/dobbie, meaning a a dull, stupid person.

Ganja This cannabis term derives from a Hindi word for the hemp plant.

Grass Dates from the 1960s, when your baggie of weed could look more like lawn clippings than today’s flower buds.

Herb For Rastafarians, who use cannabis religiously, this term emphasizes that it is natural like other herbs. 

Kush Now a generic word for cannabis, kush is actually a particular type of marijuana from the Hindu Kush mountains that span the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. It's one of the few geographic regions where cannabis is a native plant.

Joint The widely used term started with the 19th-century American word joinery, which referred to a specific part of a building. By the early 1800s, joint meant a building, in 1870 it was used for betting parlors, in 1890 for opium dens, and by 1920 it was an addict’s term for drug-related paraphernalia. Its first usage in the sense of marijuana cigarette  is dated to 1938.

Mary Jane A pun on marijuana.

Pot This slang comes from the Spanish word for marijuana leaves, potiguaya.

Reefer This term grew in popularity in the 1920s, derived from the Spanish word grifo, which more or less meant dirty pothead. It was popularized - and demonized -  in the 1936 anti-marijuana film Reefer Madness

Reefer Madness movie poster

Weed A nod to how the plant grows, dating from the 1920s, it became the dominant slang term for cannabis in the 1990s, according to Slate, as  a new generation of users wanted to distance themselves from their parents’ dope or pot.

Of course, this list barely scrapes the surface. If you have a favourite slang expression, please share in the comments below,

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