Slang Terms That Need to Come Back. . .By Decade

Most people—I don’t care who you are and how tech-savvy you may be—have had the feeling “I was born in the wrong decade.” I have it every day. Yes, I love my modern conveniences, like my iPhone, GPS, and a dishwasher, but there are an infinite amount of things I hate about the year 2014 and wish I could escape, especially the over-abbreviated, text-happy way we use language today. Call me when time travel has been invented—I’ll be the first one buying a ticket to either 1969 or the prohibition ’20’s, mostly for the incredible slang.

American slang started in the 1800s when people in the U.S. began using and transforming English in different ways than those in England or other English-speaking countries. By definition, slang is informal, it can also refer to words and phrases that are socially unacceptable. Slang can be a totally new word, a new (and even completely opposite) meaning for a word or an abbreviated version of a word (see: fetch).

Slang is usually not the friend of an intellectual or the linguistically advanced—instead, it’s a lack of a better, smarter word. . . or a real word. But it does something important, it connects us to people, it creates new groups and subcultures; it’s a totally fun, in-the-know way to communicate with your peers, a secret language that only people who are “in on it” understand.

All this said, modern slang has actually devolved in my opinion. It’s become less clever and fun and more simple and even dumb. But I still love slang! I just think we should bring some of these oldies but goodies back into circulation, like, right away.

The Twenties

The cat’s pajamas: the best; the height of excellence

Bee’s knees: (See cat’s pajamas)

Ducky: “That’s ducky”/I approve

Hotsy-totsy: perfect

Moll: A female companion of a gangster

Brooksy: Classy dresser, like “Oh, he’s hot and such a Brooksy”

Wurp: Killjoy or annoying person, i.e. “Don’t be a wurp, okay?”

The Thirties

I’ll be a monkey’s uncle:  Sign of disbelief; I don’t believe it!

Juke joint:  a casual and inexpensive establishment with drinking

Moxie: To have guts/nerves, personal flair

Swacked: Drunk, inebriated, “God, how’d you get so swacked?”

The Forties

Fat head: In a sentence: “Don’t be dumb, stop being such a fat head!”

Bupkis: “I got nothing, seriously bupkis”

To “take a powder”: Leave, exit, “I’m going to take a powder”

The Fifties

Big Daddy: An older person, not necessarily a love interest

Threads: Used to describe clothes, “Hey, don’t mess the threads.”

Dig it: To like or understand something

Cat: A cool person, like “I like this cat.”

Fream: Someone who doesn’t fit in

Get Bent!: Meant to convey someone should go away or stop bothering you. “Dude, seriously, you need to get bent.”

The Sixties

Groovy: Good, pleasing, pleasant

The Man: a person of authority; a group in power

Go-Go: Dancing, nightclubs, having a totally decadent night

Scratch: Money, currency

The Seventies:

Ace: Awesome or great

Way decent: Means something is really great

Foxy: Sexy man or lady

Cheese eater: Brown noser or suck up

Closet disco queen: Secret dancer; someone who is afraid to dance in public, but totally gets DOWN in the privacy of their own home.

The Eighties

Bodacious: beautiful

Brill: Brilliant

Dweeb: a nerd; someone who is not cool

Gag me with a spoon: disgusting

Hoser: A loser, “God, stop acting like such a hoser!” See also, hosehead

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