All the incredibly useful terms we learned from 'Seinfeld'
For a show about nothing, Seinfeld left it’s mark. Over the years, the sitcom generated dozens of pop culture references and hilarious catch phrases, so many, in fact, that it’s almost impossible to avoid hearing references to the show at every turn. And even though the series ended in 1998, we’re still obsessed with every word Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer said. Case in point: this week’s viral video of every catchphrase on Seinfeld in under 3 minutes. That video inspired us to do our own collection of Seinfeld-isms—with explanations, of course. Without further ado, here are those terms we learned from Seinfeld that we just can’t quit.
1) Regift (v.): to take a gift that one has received and give it to someone else
In the episode “The Label Maker,” Elaine discovers that her dear friend Tim Whatley offered Jerry the very gift that she had given Tim the year before. In her frustration, she utters a word that would become a pillar of the holiday season for years to come: “He recycled this gift! He’s a regifter!” My question is, what did people call “regifting” before Seinfeld? Did they literally just say “gift recycling”? Or did everyone have to explain their entire shopping history to properly convey their annoyance?
2) Shrinkage (n.): the process or act of shrinking
As much as I’d like to believe that my washing machine is filled with little creatures who use their sorcery to ruin my clothes, I know in my heart that the clothes shrinkage I witness after every wash cycle is just a result of my inability to do laundry. Now, I’ve been using this word to describe my laundry incompetence for years, but apparently, “shrinkage” was a thing way before I even discovered this terrible chore. Seinfeld redefined the term in its episode “The Hamptons” when it was used to describe a particular shower incident that I will not mention here.
3) Double-dip (v.): to put a food item in something like a dip, take a bite, and put it back in the dip
You think bar nuts are bad? Try hosting a Super Bowl party and watching a group of your closest friends swirl their saliva together the second you break out the chips and dip. Within seconds, that delicious “queso” goop becomes a cesspool of germs as people start double-dipping with their finger foods. Timmy understood this problem when he attacked George for dipping his chip, taking a bite, and dipping again in the episode “The Implant.”
4) Yada yada yada (n.): a substitute for actual words where they are too lengthy or tedious to recite in full
When you want to tell a story but you don’t want to linger too long on the minor details, it’s common to replace those unnecessary bits with “yada yada yada” (i.e. “I was really interested in adopting a rescue cat so I went to the shelter and, yada yada yada, I ended up saving the entire country from a catastrophic tidal wave.”) While the phrase is rumored to come from the Yiddish word “yadaa” meaning “to know,” George Costanza’s girlfriend refashioned the phrase in the aptly named episode “The Yada Yada,” using it to skim over details in her stories.
5) Pre-emptive breakup (n.): a tactical move that involves a guy breaking up with a girl who he is not dating
Afraid he’s going to be demoted back to the friend zone, George attempts to pull off a “pre-emptive breakup” by dumping a girl who appears to be losing interest. I wouldn’t suggest this method; you may psych yourself out and end up ditching someone who was still interested in you, or you may end up running back to them only to have them dump you in retaliation.
6) Quone (v.): to sedate
During a heated game of Scrabble, Kramer tries to play the word “quone,” claiming that it is a medical term that means “to sedate.” Jerry’s handy-dandy dictionary quashed Kramer’s dreams almost immediately but it seems as though Kramer may get the last word (pun intended) after all: many users have submitted “quote” to Collins Dictionary’s “New Word Suggestion” section and it is currently pending investigation as an official term.
7) Festivus (n.): a parody holiday celebrated on December 23 that serves as an alternative to participating in the pressures and commercialism of the Christmas season
Festivus was introduced to the world in the episode “The Strike” back in 1997. The “holiday” was created by George’s father who wanted to rebel against the commercial aspects of Christmas without sacrificing all of the family traditions that come along with them. Instead of a Christmas tree, for example, the Costanza’s use a pole and instead of saying what you’re thankful for, you participate in an “airing of grievances.”
8) Close talker (n.): someone who gets too close to another person while talking to them
Every time someone stands too close to me during a conversation, I picture the scene from Jurassic Park where the Jeep driver notices the T-Rex running alongside his vehicle, just inches away from his side-view mirror that reads “objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” Why don’t humans have a similar sign, I wonder, some little mirror attached to a headset that tells “close talkers” to take a few steps back to avoid creating an uncomfortable situation?
9) Crook eye (n.): dirty look achieved by a squinting eye motion combined with a crook of the head to one side
Just remember, if some guy standing by a bunch of pizza boxes is giving you the stink eye, all you have to do is tilt your head a bit and return his stare with “the crook eye,” which, for some reason, is far more intimidating than its “stink eye” cousin. If it worked for Kramer, it can work for you.
10) Chucker (n.): a sports player who shoots every time he or she gets a hold of the ball
As a general term, “chucker” refers to “one who chucks,” but as a Seinfeld word, it refers to a sports player, usually a basketball guy, who shoots every time he gets his hands on the ball, no matter how far away the hoop is. You may miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take but that’s better than missing 100 percent of the shots you do take when the whole point of the game is scoring.
What were your favorite Seinfeld words or phrases?