prison argot | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Corrections

Prison argot is a specialized language or jargon inmates use in correctional institutions.

Prison argot, also known as prison slang or prison lingo, is a language that has developed within the walls of correctional institutions. It is a specialized vocabulary that includes words and phrases unique to prison culture and is often used to describe various aspects of life behind bars.

Prison argot is used as a means of communication among inmates and is often used to conceal or disguise the meaning of conversations from guards and other officials. The use of prison slang can also serve to create a sense of camaraderie and solidarity among inmates, as it reinforces a shared experience and identity.

Examples of prison argot include terms such as “shank” (a homemade weapon), “cellie” (a cellmate), “on the muscle” (to be aggressive or violent), and “fish” (a new inmate or someone who is vulnerable). In some cases, prison slang can also be used to refer to the guards or other prison staff, such as “screws” or “cops.”

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Last Modified: 03/13/2023


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