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51 Slang Terms You May Not Be Familiar With

51 Slang Terms You May Not Be Familiar With

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

More by this author

Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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