At a recent dinner with my son and his family, the topic of slang terms or abbreviated sayings with young people came up. I believe every generation has shortcut verbiage. I was fascinated by the words used by my grandson Harrison, and that started my thinking about past generation slang terms. Every generation was probably convinced they were the coolest! Some older adults may feel that now using slang terms is too disrespectful or informal, but chances are, in their youth they used slag terms.
One hundred years ago in the 1920’s, there was a generation of young people who believed they were really cool. They gave us slang terms like “23 skiddoo”, “the cat’s pajamas”, and “the bees knees” to name a few. In case you don’t know the meaning, “23 Skiddoo” was a term used to get going quickly, scram or move along. The “cat’s pajamas” was a term used as the height of excellence, the best, and “bee’s knees” was a term for excellence or something outstanding. A term from that era that I like is “the real McCoy”. This was a term to convey the real thing, genuine and still in use today!
Ten years later, in the 1930’s, a few more slang terms entered our vocabulary such as “monkey’s uncle”, juke joint” and “gig”. “Monkey’s uncle” was a term used as a sign of disbelief. “Juke joint” was an inexpensive place for drinking, listening to music, and dancing. And “gig”, a term we are very familiar with in Middle Tennessee, means a job! Musicians in particular use “gig” regularly today.
By the 1940’s “keeping up with the Joneses” was popular. Obviously meaning competing with the lifestyle of one’s neighbors. The 1950’s gave us “big brother is watching you”. Meaning someone with authority is looking in on your actions. Today, many people really feel big brother is watching with technology everywhere! “Hi-Fi” and “hipster” became popular during this time as well. Hi-Fi referring to a record player or turntable, and “hipster” a trendy person.
The 1960’s gave us “groovy” and “hippie” to name a couple. “Catch you on the flip side” and “mind blowing” were joined by “pump iron” in the 70’s. “Bodacious”, “chillin” and “gag me with a spoon” followed a few years later and a term that became really popular in the 1980’s was “yuppie” often associated with a materialistic, superficial personality.
“Get jiggy” is one of my favorites from the 1990’s. “My bad”, “wassup?” and “homeboy” were also tops as we closed out the 20th Century.
The new millennium introduced us to “peeps” among others. Some I had not heard were “barney bag”, which is a gigantic purse and “rents” referring to parents.
So, here we are a hundred years after the roaring 20’s, and slang words are still “the bees knees”.
This first one caught me by surprise. “poppin-off”. In my world, that would mean someone who is being smarty, and it could be someone who passionately goes off on some topic. But in today’s slang, it can also mean someone who is performing better than anyone else.
I found this one interesting “cap”. I am told this is a way of saying you are not telling the truth. You can simply reply “cap” after someone tells you something you think is a lie, or you could just say, “I smell cap”. If you’re the one telling the story and want to be believed, just say “no cap!”. And, you just thought cap was something you wore on your head!
If you see a boy trying too hard to get a girl to like him, you can just say “simp”. (I have no idea how this one was created, but I trust my grandson.) I think we all get “ice in your veins” and “facts”. A couple I found interesting were “lit” meaning really cool or high energy, and “drip” referring to clothing that is really cool or nice.
If you want to have fun with your teen or grand-teen, you might want to drop a couple of the latest slang terms. They will either think your comment is “sus”, (short for suspicious) or “fire”, really cool!