This comes from the command
s (substitute), originally in ed but found in Perl, to replace one string with another. Although the command does not require slashes (other punctuation can be used as delimiters) in this informal use (i.e., outside of scripting) slashes are virtually universally used.
In the original command, a trailing
g means that the change in strings should be effected every time the first string appears (not just the first time it appears); this
g is often used in this informal verb also, as described in the usage note below.
s/ (imperative only)
- (informal or even humorous) Replace the following string with the one that appears after it.
- I hate you, you idiot!
- Erm, s/hate/love/ and s/idiot/lovable fellow/.
- As in the example sentences, the string to be replaced and the string replacing it are surrounded by slashes. Often, the second string is followed by a
g; see etymology, above.
- For quotations of use of this term, see Citations:s/.
- Abbreviation of sur.
Chiefly used in place names, such as on signposts.