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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.”

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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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