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January 10, 2008
Slang of the Week: gwap (noun)

Jesse was kind of a loser, but with all that gwap coming out of his pockets, he was the most popular guy at the party.

Celebrity quote:
“Got my n***az movin’ the bricks, it don't stop
And a million dollar deal, homey get that gwap”
—Rapper Havoc on the Mobb Deep song Have a Party

Gwap (which, as you can see from the lines above, rhymes with “stop”) is a fairly new word. Although it hasn’t achieved the popularity of other synonyms for money, it is used twice in the recent hit“Low” by Flo Rida, and this may help it to catch on with the public.

Though its etymology is uncertain, it may or may not be related to guacamole (since it’s green like dollar bills). Certainly, many slang words for money are related to food. Over the years, synonyms have included leafy green vegetables like lettuce, kale and cabbage; starches such as potatoes, dough and bread; and dairy products like cheddar. (The bricks Havoc is talking about, however, are not blocks of cheese; they are units of illegal drugs.)

By the way, Flo Rida is not a typo. Born Tramar Dillard, he pronounces it flow ride-ah and joins better-known artists such as Ludacris, Timbaland and Snoop Dogg in the pantheon of creatively spelled hip hop stage names.

Take a look in our bookstore for books and DVDs on all kinds of slang! This week’s pick: The Vibe History of Hip Hop. This comprehensive guide gives a tour of the music, dance and fashions of hip hop from its very beginnings. A great resource and a fun read!