Etymology
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slam (n.1)

"a severe blow," 1670s, probably from a Scandinavian source (compare Norwegian slamre, Swedish slemma "to slam, bang") of imitative origin. The meaning "a violent closing of a door" is from 1817. The meaning "an insult, put-down" is from 1884.

Slam-bang (adv.) "suddenly, violently, noisily" is by 1806 (earlier slap-bang, 1785). Slam-dunk in basketball is from 1976 (see dunk (v.)); early use often in reference to Julius "Dr. J" Erving. Slam-dance (v.) is attested by 1987 (slam by itself in this sense is recorded from 1983).

slam (n.2)

"a winning of all tricks in a card game," used especially in whist, 1650s, earlier the name of a card game (also called ruff), 1620s, of obscure origin.

The grand slam in bridge is recorded by 1892; it was used earlier in related card games (by 1800); the figurative sense of "complete success" is attested by 1920. The baseball sense of "home run with the bases loaded" is by 1935, probably a natural extension from the card game sense, with suggestion of slam (n.1). It also was the name of a brand of golf clubs in the 1920s and '30s.

slam (v.)

1690s, "to beat, slap;" 1775, "shut (a door, window, book, etc.) with force," from slam (n.1). The meaning "throw or push with force" is from 1870. The sense of "say uncomplimentary things about" is from 1916. Related: Slammed; slamming.

updated on December 16, 2022

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