Most of us are pretty familiar with slang terms from the last hundred years or so, but there are some that the average person might not be that well versed in anymore. For example, an expression like “the bee’s knees” would have been heard fairly often back in the 1930s, and in the ’60s, referring to something as being “a gas” had nothing to do with flatulence. Let’s take a look at some slang terms from the past century to see which ones have stuck around, and which have bitten the dust.

1910s

Butterflies in the Stomach: The feeling of nervousness or anxiety that manifests in a fluttery belly feeling. This one has certainly stuck around!

Goopy: Stupid or foolish, often in reference to going along with something dumb that another was doing.

Bonehead: An idiotic or stupid person.

Doohickey: Some object for which the name is either unknown, or unremembered at that point in time. “That doohickey fell off my car again.”

1920s

The Cat’s Meow: Something splendid or stylish.

On the Level: Honest, truthful. “You had breakfast with the President? Are you on the level?”

Giggle Water: An alcoholic beverage; a drink that makes you giddy and giggly. This one should absolutely be brought back into common vernacular.

Tearjerker: A sentimental story or movie that brings the viewer/reader to tears.

1930s

Hooch: Bootleg alcohol. Prohibition made booze illegal in a lot of places, so people would sell homemade “hooch” under the table.

Go Bananas: To go absolutely crazy/lose control.

Gams: A woman’s legs. “That dame’s got great gams.”

Chintzy: Cheaply made and vulgar-looking. “He gave me a chintzy plastic tablecloth for my birthday. What was he thinking?”

Speedo: The speedometer on a car. (Rather different from the modern connotation, isn’t it?)

1940s

Chicken Out: To back away from something out of cowardice.

Spook: As a verb, “spook” referred to creeping someone out; as a noun, it referred to a spy.

Dope: Information, usually fairly secret info about someone. “Hey, have you heard the dope on Sally?”

Bust Rocks: To serve time in prison; possibly in reference to doing hard labor while incarcerated.

1950s

Bread: This term for money/cash lasted well into the ’70s, but then died out.

Junk: Refers to heroin, rather than the completely different connotation it carries now.

In a Pickle: In trouble; in a jam. “Danny found himself in a pickle when his stolen car broke down outside the cop shop.”

Out of This World: Spectacular, amazing.

1960s

The Damage: The cost of something. “Wow, that was a great meal. Okay, what’s the damage?”

Groovy: Very cool. You won’t hear this one much anymore unless someone’s saying it ironically.

Knock-Off: An illegal copy. “She bought a knock-off Prada bag, but the label was misspelled as ‘Parda.’ You’d think that would have been a clue that it wasn’t legit.”

Douchebag: A weak, indecisive person (usually male), or someone who’s just a complete jerk.

-ville (suffix): Grouping a bunch of things together to indicate their general definition. “My parents’ place was dullsville this weekend.”

1970s

Give Some Skin: To shake hands or give a slow high-five, usually in congratulations.

Boondocks: Out in the middle of nowhere. “His new house is out in the boondocks, man…I think his closest neighbor’s a squirrel.”

“No Way, Jose!”: Absolutely not. No. Not gonna happen.

Hammered: Unbelievably drunk. “Tito got totally hammered after drinking thirty vodka spritzers.”

Shades: Sunglasses.

1980s

Awesome: Spectacular/great.

Kryptonite: An item that is a person’s weakness. “I just can’t stay away from Kelly; she’s my kryptonite.”

“Whatever.”: Expression of utter indifference.

Eye Candy: Something attractive or otherwise pleasing to the eye.

Sketchy: Questionable, possibly dirty or dangerous. “That’s a sketchy neighborhood; walk there at night and you might get mugged.”

1990s

Chillax: Chilled out and relaxing all at once, usually while socializing with others.

Poser: Someone who pretends to be important, or tries to be part of a group that they’re absolutely unsuited to.

Ugly Stick: An imaginary object that makes anything hideous when smacked with it. “Dude, where the hell did you get that shirt? You look like you’ve been hit with the ugly stick.”

Five-Finger Discount: Shoplifting.

Buff: Muscular. “He was totally buff after working out for eight hours a day, every day for a month.”

2000s

Peeps: People, especially those in one’s own social or familial circle. “Don’t mess with my peeps.”

Green: Eco-friendly.

Newbie: A newcomer. Also referred to as “noob” or “n00b”. “He totally pwned a bunch of n00bs playing WOW last night.”

Bling: Shiny, expensive jewelery, generally worn to be overly showy.

Cougar: An older woman who sleeps with (preys upon?) younger men.

2010s

Tricked-Out: Highly decorated and ameliorated, usually in reference to a car.

Crack- (prefix): A reference to something that a person is addicted to. “I swear, I check Crackbook (Facebook) a hundred times a day.”

Bromance: A close, non-sexual friendship between males.

Unfriend: To end a friendship with someone; used in reference to deleting someone from the Facebook “friends” list.

Precious: Truly hideous. “Did you see Maya’s new jacket? Purple leopard print with rhinestones and ribbons is just so…precious.”

You may be interested in this: 75 Simple British Slang Phrases You Should Probably Start Using

Featured photo credit: Office via Shutterstockt

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