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What Baby Boomer Slang Besides "Groovy" Is Unhip and Uncool?

Making fun of older generations’ slang (e.g., “cat’s pajamas” or “twenty-three skidoo“) has been good for laughs for hundreds of years.

The most notorious Baby Boomer slang term is of course “groovy.” Yet looking at a list of Baby Boomer slang, it’s hard to see too many others that are stereotypical objects of generational derision the way Baby Boomers derided their parents’ and grandparents’ slang, like saying “hep” instead of “hip.”

Or, no doubt, Baby Boomer slang is widely derided by today’s youth, but as a complacent Baby Boomer I’m too generationally smug to notice or care. In high school in the 1970s, we were assigned Alvin Toffler’s book “Future Shock” about how the world is changing ever-faster, but, it turns out, the world still looks a lot like high school.

This is not to say that it’s ideal to have been a Baby Boomer — for career opportunity, the best years to be born were likely the Birth Dearth of 1930-1945 up through the early years of the Baby Boom, for simple supply and demand reasons. But for sheer cultural domination and inertia, there hasn’t been anything in living memory like the long run of the Baby Boomers.

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120 Comments to "What Baby Boomer slang besides "groovy" is unhip and uncool?"

  1. dearieme says:

    I always laugh at “it literally blew my mind” for both obvious reasons. And I am from ” the early years of the Baby Boom”.

  2. Here is some 60s slang that we viewed with derision in the 80s:

    “Mary Jane”, “grass” (we said “pot” or “weed”)

    “that’s a gas” (like Jumpin’ Jack Flash)

    “you dig?”

    “heavy” as in “heavy vibe, man”

    “outta sight!”

    “square” in the sense of “uncool” or “conformist”

    “what’s your bag?”

    I don’t how current any of that stuff really was in the actual 1960s. We learned it from old re-reruns of late 60s-early 70s TV shows where usually the ridiculous hipppy characters would talk that way, or from older burn-outs who would hang around with high-school kids, but seemed ridiculous to us.

  3. @dearieme

    Yeah, that one is funny — anything extremely LSD-oriented like “groovy” and “mind-blowing” is risible.

  4. Anonym says:

    “right on” – It’s got that 70s leftist political agitation association, and unlike groovy, never had its Austin Powers to make it cool again. It’s about as cool as women’s studies. Urban dictionary nails it.

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=right%20on

  5. @Peter Akuleyev

    But you watched those sitcoms and heard “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” on the radio a million times, right?

  6. @Anonym

    I was going to nominate “rap” — as in the early 1970s William Hamilton cartoon in the New Yorker in which the society lady tells her black cleaning lady, “Dinah, we need to rap one of these days.” But it’s the musical genre that just won’t die — or as my nonagenarian father said, “I hate this modern yap music.”

  7. Daniel says:

    Could somebody, please, put “Awesome” to bed. Is California to blame for this one?

  8. @Daniel

    “Awesome”

    How long has awesome been around? It hit a new peak a few years ago. It might well have been a Baby Boomer word too.

  9. Jefferson says:

    There is a 1981 song called “Let’s Groove Tonight” by Earth, Wind, & Fire. What did people in 1981 think about the fact that musical acts like Earth, Wind, & Fire were still using slang from the 1970s in their songs ?

  10. “Far out” is something my boomer mom said that most of my peers would snicker at a little if they heard. Besides that, most boomer slang seems to have been brought back ironically at first but then catches on unironically. Thus you can still hear young people say hip and groovy and neat and most of the other terms offered in the comments.

  11. syon says:

    Grass for cannabis automatically marks you as uncool.

  12. Orthodox says:

    Radical was big for a time in the 80s. There seemed to be a period where surfer lingo leaked out, partially through Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Gnarly Dude! Yeah, totally tubular!

    But you watched those sitcoms and heard “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” on the radio a million times, right?

    Yeah, basically you could tell that the production quality of the Brady Bunch wasn’t as high quality as new shows in the 80s, so obviously whatever these people were saying was old and lame.

    On his last day in office, Obama’s legs will start twirling Looney Tunes style and he’ll say “23 skiddoo” before disappearing in a cloud of dust.

  13. John says:

    I’m not a baby boomer, but one that I would say, when being sarcastic is “Bitchin,” I would also try and make it sound more ridiculous by adding some ghetto slang to it as well, such as “Bitchin motorcycle dawg!” or “Bitchin T-Shirt home slice” mainly to ridicule whatever I was describing and make it as ridiculous as the words I was using.

  14. I see Daddy-O was already uncool in the ’60s!

    Yes, while Hippies have been uncool since the late 1970s, the Baby Boomer culture is still broadly dominant. Kids are still taught to rebel by acting like Baby Boomers, ‘rebelling’ against the cultural norms of the 1950s!

    Looking at clothing, language/slang and other cultural ephemera, there seems to have been a clear Era of Upheaval after the Great War, that finally tailed off in the late 1980s or early 1990s, with very little cultural change since. The End of Upheaval seems to have predated widespread use of the Internet by about half a decade (ca 1989-1990 vs ca 1994-1995), so I don’t think that was a factor. It does seem to have happened at about the same moment that Political Correctness became a dominant ideology, which was also the end of the Cold War. Either or both of those could have been a factor, but from memory I rather get the feeling that things were already starting to run out of steam from the mid 1980s (I think the early 80s were still culturally innovative), so it could be coincidence.

  15. I find myself using slang words like ‘doofus’ in 2014 that I learned off American TV (Seinfeld) in the 1990s… TV that was written by baby boomers who created the slang in the 1960s. I think Gen X, Gen Y and the Millenials all still look to the Baby Boomers for cultural cues.

  16. Mr. Anon says:

    Bread (money)

    Chick (girl)

    Pad (abode)

    Pig (cop)

    Man (replaced “Mac” and “Pal”, was subsequently replaced by “Dude” and “Bro”)

    Outta Sight

    Fascist (anybody you don’t like – now replaced by “nazi” and “racist”)

    Bigot (the concept doesn’t exist anymore – all bigots were upgraded to racists)

    One hippy term that quickly became main-stream was “rip-off”. I can remember my Dad deriding it about 1972 as something that only dirty, long-haired hippies said, and by 1975 or so he was using the term himself.

  17. Gilbert P says:

    If you’re not hip, you wouldn’t even know that ‘groovy’ is big these days, although often used semi-ironically, dig?

  18. Mr. Anon says:

    “Peter Akuleyev says: (Commenting History)
    July 11, 2014 at 6:22 am

    Here is some 60s slang that we viewed with derision in the 80s:

    “you dig?”

    “heavy” as in “heavy vibe, man” ”

    I’m a late boomer, so I came of age in the late 70s / early 80s. It’s remarkable how short-lived the hippy parlance lasted. As you said, a lot of it was considered ridiculous already by the 80s – actually even by the late 70s. “Heavy” was even more embarrassing than “Groovy”. Although I must admit, I have always seriously dug “to dig” as a verb – especially in its imperative form: “Dig this!”

  19. white boy says:

    The word “cool” is slang that has survived since the 60′s. Can’t think of another slang term with such staying power.

  20. You knew “groovy” was out when it got laughs when the lawyer guy said it in TO LIVE AND DIE IN LA.

    “Do you like the rain.”

    “Yeah, it’s groovy.”

    LOL.

  21. SS: …as in the early 1970s William Hamilton cartoon in the New Yorker in which the society lady tells her black cleaning lady, “Dinah, we need to rap one of these days.”

    Speaking of which, nobody who’s hip or cool has a black cleaning lady you could rap in English with anymore, do they?

  22. Drawbacks says:

    “Ball,” “chick”, “bummer,” “head”(as in the Monkees’ movie)? How about “vibes”, “on my wavelength?” I associate “ofay” and “honky” with the late 60s and early 70s, but maybe those words just didn’t show up in white culture before then.

  23. Cookies says:

    I don’t remember ‘awesome’ as a BB word.

    You can say ‘groovy’ if you are being ironic. I believe they call that post-modern.

    Also, ‘cool’ has been around for a looonnngg time.

  24. Beautiful people

    Bread

    Bug Out

    Bum trip

    Chick

    Pig

    Drag

    Neato

    Nifty

    Righteous

    You take care of the hot dogs and I’ll take care of the orange drinks:

  25. Gollios says:

    Bruce Campbell did use ‘groovy’ to great effect in “Army of Darkness”. But I wouldn’t try it without the chin.

  26. asdfsdfd says:

    Steve, something is wrong with the blog. When I go to the bottom of the following link:

    http://www.unz.com/isteve/

    and click on “older items” to access the articles you wrote earlier this month and in June, the link keeps taking me back to a numbered link: http://www.unz.com/isteve/page/2/ with the newest posts and not older posts.

  27. What Baby Boomer slang besides “groovy” is unhip and uncool? | Reaction Times says:Website

    […] Source: Steve Sailer […]

  28. Seamus says:

    I am proud to say that, although a boomer myself, I have never (not even in the late 60s) used the word “groovy” except ironically.

  29. guest says:

    Groovy? Uncool? That’s bananaz!

  30. carol says:

    No one said “it’s a gas” in the Sixties except in that song. The gas thing was left over from the bebop era. Awesome came along in the 70s I think.

    Don’t forget “far out.” Also, “REALLY!” as a response. I’m still guilty of that one.

    I think the record industry was trying to push “boss” but I didn’t know anyone who used that.

    The one that will NOT die is “cool.”

  31. Speaking of Austin Powers, all of his slang was supposed to sound ridiculous – although most of it was British slang like “bird” that was never popular in the U.S. to begin with.

    I think the more strongly a 1960s word is associated with hippies, the more likely it is to be mocked.

    It seems to me that most slang of any generation either becomes a permanent part of the language or simply becomes forgotten, with only a few terms in the middle spot of remembered-but-mocked. Look at this list of 1920s slang: does anyone think of “crush” (in the romantic sense) or “double-cross” or “fall guy” or “wet blanket” as specifically 1920s terms? And many other terms on the list, some of them eminently mockable, are forgotten.

    http://local.aaca.org/bntc/slang/slang.htm

  32. poolside says:

    Not sure I’ve ever heard a young person make fun of the term “far out,” but whenever I come across it I’m reminded of Greg Brady’s awkward slang in the “Brady Bunch.”

  33. @Peter Akuleyev

    Much of this depends on who’s saying it. An illustration is that scene in Oliver Stone’s The Doors where the Ed Sullivam Show producer is trying to get the band to change the lyrics to Light My Fire: http://youtu.be/61m_Dm44RHA

  34. Dahinda says:

    Words like “boss” or “tits” i.e. Man, his car is tits!

  35. Agree with all of the above. Speaking on behalf of Generation X, we also got a lot of laughs out of the following;

    1. Copious use of the word “man”, especially when spoken with the “a” elongated as though the speaker were high. As in, “Is that Freedom Rock, maaan? Yeah, maaan! Well, turn it up, maaaaan!”

    2. Far out.

    3. “Brother” used as a term of familiarity akin to “dude”, but not shortened to “bro” or “brah”. The exception would be when bellowed with turgid neck veins like Hulk Hogan.

    4. “Happening” used to describe a cool event or party.

    Of course we shamelessly appropriated “Leave It To Beaver” slang and used it ironically. (swell, hep, peachy, dreamy, boss, bitchin’, cat, kitten, chief, etc.)

    I always thought “awesome” was a surfer/valley affectation that caught on nationwide in the early 80s?

  36. S. Verdad says:

    I don’t know man I’m as cool as any cat in the alley and I use 70′s lingo all the time. Y’all haters can pack up those negative vibes and hop the next train to Squaresville. The scene is heavy enough without your jive.

  37. Here are some words and phrases I’ve noticed in late ’60s-early ’70s California surf pulp novels:

    “Making the scene”

    “Blowing your cool”

    “Freaked-out”

    “Trip”

    “Far out”

    “The fuzz”

  38. >In high school in the 1970s, we were assigned Alvin Toffler’s book “Future Shock” about how the world is changing ever-faster, but, it turns out, the world still looks a lot like high school.

    Toffler’s idea probably sounded plausible to Americans alive circa 1970 who grew up before or during the Second World War, like my father (born 1927). But I agree that in many ways, the look and feel of daily life in the U.S. hasn’t changed that much since the 1970′s, except when it comes to the demographic makeup. Peter Thiel argues that society has stagnated in part because engineering faces so many restrictions these days that technological progress in most fields has become effectively illegal. By contrast, we’ve seen rapid progress in computing and software because the government leaves us free to innovate in that area, at least for now.

    We can see this change in how gurus identify themselves over time. In the 1950′s and 1960′s L. Ron Hubbard called himself a “nuclear physicist,” for example, while Andrew J. Galambos called himself (with better justification) a rocket scientist. These fields sounded edgy and cool to Americans at the time before the state clamped down on their allowable development, and a few nuclear physicists and rocket scientists did become minor celebrities.

    But the glamour era for nuclear physics and rocket science has passed. Call yourself an expert in either field today, and people will say that you don’t look 90 years old.

    By contrast, because computing has become the ascendant technology, today a guru who wants to impress the rubes has to call himself something like a “friendly AI theorist.”

  39. M_Young says:

    “the fuzz”
    “far out”

  40. http://www.darkmoon.me/2014/our-wretched-jewish-state-by-gideon-levy/

    Wow, replace ‘Palestinian’ with ‘white American’, and it pretty much describes what’s happening over here.

  41. Fried says:

    http://stuartschneiderman.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-freudian-pseudo-religion.html

    “If it’s true that Freud’s incipient intention had been to liberate people “to speak for themselves,” that’s certainly not what happened in practice. One need only cite Freud’s infamous “Wolf Man” and “Dora” cases to demonstrate that not only did Freud not liberate patients to speak for themselves, he quite knowingly began speaking for them, and in the most fictional, farcical, fabulist ways—​ways that revealed much more about Freud and his own wackiness than it ever did about the poor Wolf Man and Dora.”

    Come to think of it, neocons do the same with American Conservatism. Instead of letting cons speak, they speak ‘for us’ with silly notions of what our ‘real conservatism’ should be.

  42. ….

    Other boomer slang:

    - far out!

    - plastic (inauthentic)

    - boss (chiefly Californian)

    - bitchin’ (cool – seems to have fallen into disuse from the mid-to-late Sixties; also, chiefly Californian expression)

    - rip off (rob; to fleece; overpriced; not sold what was advertised; shoddy goods/services)

    - put down (put me/you/him/her/them down)

    - bring me/you/him/her/them down

    - bummer / bum trip

    - heavy darts (outgrowth of “heavy,” means “serious disparagement”)

    - funky (music having prominent or dominant bass line; later came to mean “dirty” or “soiled”)

    - strung out (variously hooked on heroin, hung over, perpetually stoned on weed, &c.)

    - What’s happening? (supplanted by “Wassup”?)

    - grape (wine; possible holdover from the Beats; most often spoken as “the grape,” as in “The grape twisted my head.”)

    - scene (as in, “It’s my scene, man,” or “It’s not my scene, man,” or “That’s cool scene,” or “A happening scene.”)

    - juice (alcoholic spirits, booze; chiefly whiskey)

    - vibe / vibration (seems to have survived, but no longer prime choice of expression)

    - beautiful people

    - fox / foxy (attractive woman)

    - thing (as in “not my thing,” or, “not my bag”)

    - freak (cool/hip individual, as oppose to a “straight” uncool individual)

    - together (competent, as in “He has his sh_t together.”; or “welcoming,” as in, “You’ll be cool there, they have a together scene.”)

    - later (form of farewell, as in, “Later, man.”

  43. Anonymous says:

    Peter Akuleyev:

    “outta sight!”

    This makes me think of “The Brady Bunch.”

  44. hardly says:

    Hey Steve, your Zizek expose has hit the frontpage of Reddit (although the link itself is to a different website that quotes your article). Congratulations, the move to unz really seems to have started broadening your audience.

  45. Anonymous says:

    “Unhip” is unhip.

  46. josh says:

    “Swell” is boomer slang as is “peachy keen”

  47. Abe says:Website

    “Cat”, as in, “And then these two cats came driving up the street.” “Trippy” too.

    Also, use of Freudian psychology terms in everday conversation is kinda lame now (e.g. your joke about the narcissist and neurotic you sent to National Review 40 years ago, though I’m sure back then it made you so cool Led Zeppelin was beating down your door to make you the world’s youngest road manager ;-)

  48. I think your whole premise is wrong. “Today’s youth,” whether you mean 2014 or 2005 or 1998, in general did not have strong feelings at all about 60′s/70′s lingo. They never felt annoyed by words or phrases the way I am by ebonics, rap, or whites wearing dreads. In 2002 in Berkeley, I did have a 20-year old explicitly tell me, “I hate your generation,” but he wasn’t talking about language. He was talking about how he’d been demoted to second class status, most likely in comparison with women.

  49. Doooood says:

    1. “Dude.” Especially when a woman is called “dude.”

    2. “Back in the day” (they’re too young to have days to look back upon).

    3. “Old school” (see 2.)

  50. Useful metonymy: cowardly lions.

    The ‘courageous cowards’ like John McCain, John Bolton, Lindsey Graham, Walter Russell Mead, and Ted Cruz who roar loudly at the ‘enemies of the US’–chosen by the globo-elites, of course–but who purr like pooty cats at the AIPAC conference.

  51. Today’s slang that must go.

    ‘Hey you guys’ — even said by girls to other girls.

    A slang that thankfully passed away:

    ‘You girl go’.

    Slang that’s here to stay.

    ‘ho’.

    You gotta credit the negroes for that one. It’s pretty good.

  52. Eric says:

    “Cats” for boys went out of style a long time ago, but “chicks” for girls will never die.

  53. Dahlia says:

    I don’t know Boomer slang from the Silent, but “Cat” (50s?) is one that surprises me for not having staying power. The only people I’ve ever heard use it are my father-in-law (b. late ’40s) and my mom (b. 1956) but only when she is around her hippie friends whom she’s known since childhood; not even to her sisters of the same age.

  54. @Mr. Anon

    >>Mr. Anon says: • See Commenting History
    July 11, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Fascist (anybody you don’t like – now replaced by “nazi” and “racist”)

    Bigot (the concept doesn’t exist anymore – all bigots were upgraded to racists)<<

    No, I still see Bigot used a lot, especially in reference to World War LGBT. 'Racist' wouldn't make sense, so Bigot is widely used for those suspected of insufficiently enthusiastic support.

  55. Jacobite says:Website

    “- boss (chiefly Californian)”

    Not really. Cool East Coasters used the word and Ford had cars called “Boss” this or that as in Boss 302 Mustang. A cherry one would be worth a lot of money now.

    ““Swell” is boomer slang as is “peachy keen””

    Those terms are waaay (GenX word) older than the boomers and definitely unhip. Swell is a contraction of the already contracted ‘Tis well and peachy keen is a primo phrase from the 1940′s which means primo or “most excellent” (GenX term again.)

    “Bread (money)

    Chick (girl)

    Pad (abode)”

    Not boomer. Those are all white Beatnik hipster terms expropriated from jazz rap in the 1940′s.

    And it’s pronounced “do your thang” not thing:

    Sock it to me!

  56. “What it is?” Or maybe “what it is.”

    I believe this was an Oakland CA bla’fo’ expression. According to The Urban Dictionary, this is “an all but lost expression of 1970s ebonics…It is often a rhetorical question…”

    And a good thing too.

  57. Jacobite says:Website

    “But for sheer cultural domination and inertia, there hasn’t been anything in living memory like the long run of the Baby Boomers.”

    Are you ready for eight more years of Boomer’s Rule when Hillary takes over in 2016?

  58. http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/dawn-of-the-planet-of-the-apes-2014

    “I’ve seen a few critics insist that “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is an allegory for the Israel-Palestinean conflict, and certain echoes of that real world tragedy may indeed be present; but for the most part, the film’s allusions struck me as more general, like the contours of a fable intended to spark dreams and eventually lead to wisdom.”

    Eeh eeh, ahh ahh, ooh ooh.

  59. Peter says:Website

    @poolside

    I’m reminded of Greg Brady’s awkward slang in the “Brady Bunch.”
    Reply

    Some years back I was watching an episode on TV Land and burst out laughing when Mrs. Brady said “groovy.” I couldn’t figure out why the producers threw in that line. It couldn’t have been an imitation of the way baby boomers talked, as according to the show’s timeline Mrs. Brady would have been born at least a decade prior to the start of that generation (in fact, Florence Henderson was born in 1934). Nor did it seem like Mrs. Brady was trying to sound young and hip.

  60. RayP says:

    The Beatles even apparently promoted a regional slang none of the band members ever spoke for real:

    “McCartney recalled seeing the script of their first film, A hard day’s night, which had been entrusted to the kitchen-sink playwright Alun Owen. Owen had them saying words like neb and grotty, which he claimed were local [Liverpool] colloquialisms, even though McCartney admitted they were words ‘none of us used’. Still, the Beatles played along. They knew what the public wanted.”
    – Dominic Sandbrook, Never had it so good: a history of Britain from Suez to the Beatles

  61. Rob says:

    Where does “pot” (cannabis) stand?

  62. @RedneckCryonicist

    Mobile computing is one way in which life looks different today than in the ’70s, or the ’90s for that matter. Next time you see Michael Mann’s Heat on cable, think of the scene where Amy Brenneman’s character is waiting in the car for De Niro’s character to finish his errand at the airport hotel. She’s sitting there looking nervous, rubbing her shaking (but empty) hands. Today, she’d be reading Jezebel on her iPhone.

  63. Seamus says:

    When I was still in high school (which puts it around 1969-71), I recall reading an article about the ephemeral nature of teen slang. It was published, IIRC, in the New York Times Magazine and was entitled, “If You Think It’s Groovy to Rap, You’re Shucking.” (I guess the word “shucking” was still cool at the time the article appeared.)

  64. chucho says:

    A lot of Gen-Xers use these some of these terms half tongue-in-cheek. It was impossible not to hear them on TV in the 80s with incessant re-runs of old films and TV shows, like “Dragnet” (if anyone was capable of laying a bum trip on some freaks, it was a pig like Sgt. Friday). But other phrases, like “beautiful people” and “groovy” I’ve never heard used, even ironically.

    There was a funny moment in the film “Greenberg” (not a great movie) where Ben Stiller’s character explains that he and his friends used to use the word “man” in order to “make fun of the type of people who say ‘man’”.

  65. Robinson says:

    I thought this thread would be wicked, but it’s kinda lame.

  66. To “ball” used to mean to fornicate. Haven’t heard that one in ages.

    A “head” was someone who smoked marijuana.

    I don’t think young people today are even aware that those terms were ever used in those contexts, as neither term ever made it onto the sitcoms.

  67. @Gilbert P

    Groovy is cool. Others have pointed out some good ones, and the fact that kids think Groovy is pretty Groovy these days. Here’s a ridiculously uncool Boomer slang I encountered in a most unsavory fashion (a nice asian lady who was lying about her age):

    “Balling” as synonym for “fucking.”

    Cool people think “balling” is an adjective rather than a verb.

  68. archaic slangs

    What’s the word for PC-ese like ‘teens’ and ‘youths’ that slip around the truth?

    Slings?

  69. Daniel says:

    When I was in college – late 1970′s to early 80′s – there was an inter-collegiate Black fraternity on the east coast. It was named – no kidding – Groove-Phi-Groove.

  70. How about Heinlein’s “grok”? Maybe it never became as mainstream as the rest, but it’s been persistent.

  71. George says:

    @Daniel

    Awesome, radical, bitching. Aren’t those part of Valley speak as reported by Frank Zappa in his song Valley Girl. Maybe it’s not the baby boom but California that is uncool. Or maybe California was always central to baby boom cool. Perhaps the bookends of California cool are “California Dreaming” and “Valley Girl”.

    Not cool:

    Google Exec’s Heroin Death a Sign of Drug Trouble in Silicon Valley?

    http://www.foxbusiness.com/technology/2014/07/10/google-execs-heroin-death-sign-drug-trouble-in-silicon-valley/

    But is it bitchin that Backpage.com probably killed a dude in someway responsible for the internet. I think that’s AWESOME DUDE!!!!!! TOTALLY RADICAL!!!!!

  72. @George

    “Maybe it’s not the baby boom but California that is uncool. Or maybe California was always central to baby boom cool.”

    Interesting idea …

  73. ….

    A few more:

    - the pits: very bad, undesirable, as in, “That place is the pits, man.”

    - zonked: on an acid/psychedelic trip; stoned; drunk

    - crash: to sleep (most likely from the 40′s/50′s Beats)

    - goof: as in, “We goofed on the pigs and they didn’t have a clue!”

    - put on: fool, deceive, as in “You’re putting us on, man.”

    - goalie for the dart team: individual afflicted with heavy acne (not so much a hip expression, but it had currency in my mid-1960′s high school years)

    - burned out / burnout (person, as the character Reverend Jim Ignatowski on ‘Taxi’); also, burnout meant smoking the tires of the drive wheels of a drag racing vehicle, for a time drag racers poured bleach on the tires, yielded the term “bleach burnout”

    - waste / wasted: as far as I know this came from U.S. soldiers in Vietnam who used “waste” to mean “kill”; this was borrowed to mean stoned, dead drunk, &c. as in “Let’s get wasted.”

    - head shop: extinct species of retail outlet

    - hot dog: surfer slang for a wave ride featuring masterful tricks of the avocation

    - muscle car: largely supplanted in this age of high-priced gasoline by “rice burner” for souped-up cars of Oriental make

    - let it all hang out

    - hang loose / hang tight

    - hang-up(s) / hung-up

    - Establishment, as in “The Establishment”

    - copacetic

    - anal / neat freak

    - laid back

    - mellow: as in, “Let’s get mellow (stoned),” or, the exhortation, “Mellow out, man.”

    - boogie: as in “Let’s boogie down to Mexico / the gas station / the 7-Eleven / &c.”; also used to mean “depart,” as in just plain, “Let’s boogie.”

    - split: depart

    - front: lend or advance, as in “She fronted me half a lid.”

    - joint: marijuana cigarette

    - roach: butt end, remnant of a mostly-smoked joint

    - roach clip

    - bong

    - hit / toke: today you almost never hear “toke”

    - fire: match, cigarette lighter, as in “I got this blunt, anybody got fire?”

    - space cadet / spaceman / spaced out / spaced

    - wavelength: simpatico, in clear communication, as in “She and I are on the same wavelength.”

    - waves: as Donald Sutherland said in ‘Kelly’s Heroes’: “Positive waves, man,” but waves could also be negative

    - crystal: methedrine, as in The Door’s song “The Crystal Ship”

    - downer(s): also known as “reds,” meaning barbiturates; expanded to mean a tiresome individual or group that brings people down

    - upper(s)

    - reach out: make effort to communicate, to aid, to reestablish communication

    - for sure: this is, I think, a Midwesternism that, for a while, went into broad usage, often as in, “For sure, man.”

    - make it: have intercourse

    - fake it: holdover from 1940′s/50′s musicians playing without sheet music, later expanded to any form of ad-libbing or hoodwinking; Simon & Garfunkel song “Fakin’ It”

    - cosmic: exaggeration meaning “heavy” or “significant,” as in “Wow, man, that’s cosmic.”

    - Oh, wow: next time you watch ‘Monterey Pop’ it’s what Mama Cass Eliot mouths as she’s caught on camera commenting on Janis Joplin’s performance of “Ball And Chain”; “Oh, wow,” was a much-frequented expression.

    - ‘ere: I think it was George Carlin who said that this was a “doper’s favorite word,” as when a pot smoker has toked and is holding-in his toke so that when he passes the joint on to the next doper in the circle, he omits the “h” sound at the start of “here.”

    - Bogart: to hog a joint to oneself

    - fantabulous: portmanteau of “fantastic” and “fabulous”

    - ripped: stoned, drunk, &c., as in “Wanna get ripped, man?”

    - teeny bopper: today supplanted, so far as I can make out, by “tweener”

    - groupie

    - roadie

    - lay: tell, demonstrate; as in “Lay it on me, man,” or, “Wait till I lay this sh_t on you, dude.”

    - cream: defeat, demolish, discomfit; as in, “He got creamed, man.”

    - Z’s: sleep; as in “Catch some Z’s.”

    - leaf: marijuana; as in the Jefferson Airplane song, “Mexico”

    - flake: as a noun, cocaine; as a verb, to relax supine, to be physically or mentally exhausted, or to sleep, as in “Flaked out.”

    - hard core: possibly a corruption of the earlier “hard corps,” meaning a unit of battle-hardened soldiers or an individual soldier of demonstrated combat prowess

    - wheels: car, truck, automotive transportation; as in, “Who’s got wheels? – you fly, I’ll buy.”

    - score: to succeed at obtaining an illegal drug

    - connection: drug dealer

    - hold / holding: to be in possession of an illegal drug; as in, “I need to get mellow, you holding, man?”

    - tricked out: souped-up car; as in, “Tony’s Mopar is all tricked-out.”

    - killer: potent; as in, “Louise scored some killer weed.”

    - shit: marijuana; you’re a boomer and you want to know how dated your speech sounds? – listen to George Carlin’s classic ‘AM-FM’ album

  74. Sara says:

    1) Baby Boomer slang sounds more serious (or at least less ridiculous) when accompanied by the sound of a switchblade opening.

    2) “square” in the sense of “uncool” or “conformist”. The BBs were the squarest generation of all.

    3) ‘But the glamour era for nuclear physics and rocket science has passed. Call yourself an expert in either field today, and people will say that you don’t look 90 years old. By contrast, because computing has become the ascendant technology, today a guru who wants to impress the rubes has to call himself something like a “friendly AI theorist.”’

    The past’s future: high energy but low information. Think Star Trek, or better yet anything by Doc E.E. Smith. The present: low energy with high information. The Matrix.

  75. Coemgen says:

    Dude, this thread is totally awesome! Dig?

  76. “Keen”. THAT was a big 50′s word par excellence (as in, that’s KEEN!). A TVLand late 90s parody commerical of 50s style commercials promoted a non-existent product called TWIP, a multi-purpose stuff and they’d say “It’s Keen!”

    That’s so out it probably didn’t make it out of the 50s.

    Swell dates back to Prohibition era, along with lousy, copacetic and “the cat’s meow”.

    Also:

    “””””””“McCartney recalled seeing the script of their first film, A hard day’s night, which had been entrusted to the kitchen-sink playwright Alun Owen. Owen had them saying words like neb and grotty, which he claimed were local [Liverpool] colloquialisms, even though McCartney admitted they were words ‘none of us used’. Still, the Beatles played along. They knew what the public wanted.”
    – Dominic Sandbrook, Never had it so good: a history of Britain from Suez to the Beatles”””””””””

    McCartney does tend to use the word “groovy” quite a bit whether in public interviews, in documentaries and in his autobiography. Not sure if its one part ironic and one part that’s an actual slang term that he does use in his real life.

    In Hard Day’s Night, George Harrison says something along the lines of “something-and giggles”, this pre-dates Austin Powers’ “Shits and Giggles” but its definitely in the same vein.

    IRONY: Some Beatles’ slang phrases: “A Hard Day’s Night” (among others) were coined by Ringo who had a knack for turning a phrase. That slang phrase is iconic, classic, and timeless since it relates to both the film and the song.

    And how about “classic”? That’s not quite out or in. It is just there.

    Kind of classic (and classy) though to use it.

  77. I thought this thread would be wicked, but it’s kinda lame.

    I’m pretty sure that “wicked” used to mean “very” or “quite good” originated in Maine. I usually hear it used by people who are trying to give things local flair (I live in Maine).

  78. OH, and how about the F word? As in just the letter F?

    That’s always going to be in, yes no?

    So iconic, such an indelible presence, a catch all useful phrase for just about F’ing anything imaginable.

  79. wwebd says:

    The word cool does not belong with the other slang words here, it signifies , in current English, several non-slang ideas – for example, the word cool is at the center of the
    theological and psychological problem pointed out in Revelation 3-16 (it is not good to be a human who is neither warm nor cold), for another example, everyone uses the word cool to describe the usually boring type of non-melodic and overly mathematically rhythmed jazz that was promoted for some unknown reason in the years when the first generation of hot jazz and Dixieland radio and recording stars headed into late middle age, and for another example, we call cool the group of sad “cultural icons” who were forced, back in the 50s, into portraying little more than mopey consumer images of narcissistic losers who lacked empathy for others but who did spend lots of money on sex. These were guys who had the natural acting talent to display an understanding of courage and virtue and other positive attributes, but who lacked the intellectual independence to push back against the influential movie and theater people who wanted them to be no more than “cool.”

  80. Maybe it comes from having been a cynical “townie” in a college burg, but I have only a couple years on Steve yet most of these “boomer” terms were laughably passé by the time we mid-Ike babies reached high school. Anything the Truman kids (i.e., those enrolled up the hill) said or did was ripe for derision. “Groovy” was only heard in “The 59th St Bridge Song”.

    “Boomer” itself is a term ripe for the dustbin, along with “cool”, and blue jeans unsullied by work stains. A good definition of the boomer is someone whose kids call a homophobe and whose parents think is a fag.

  81. anonymous says:

    Did “cool” maybe become hot back when air conditioning first went in and there were all those adds about a place of business being chill, cool, etc.? Air conditioned comfort…

  82. Busby says:

    My wife and I still use some of those words, including groovy. My kids always do the eye roll when they are around to hear us speak that way. A lot of those words were time and place and would naturally fall out of use as we aged, especially the drug lingo.

    “Ball”, haven’t heard that since 1973. That was definitely Chicago and the suburbs of. I moved to Chicago from the east coast and lived lots of other places and never heard that word used with that meaning anywhere else.

  83. Boomstick says:

    Tommy Ramone, the last of the original Ramones, has died.

    One, two, three, four!

  84. Mr. Anon says:

    ” Cloudcastler says: • See Commenting History
    July 11, 2014 at 9:15 am

    You knew “groovy” was out when it got laughs when the lawyer guy said it in TO LIVE AND DIE IN LA. ”

    One of the great movies of the 80s. I wish that William Friedkin had made more movies than he has.

  85. Jacobite says:Website

    ” everyone uses the word cool to describe the usually boring type of non-melodic and overly mathematically rhythmed jazz that was promoted for some unknown reason in the years when the first generation of hot jazz and Dixieland radio and recording stars headed into late middle age”

    Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, and Gerry Mulligan were quite melodic and not at all elderly when they developed the West Coast Cool style of jazz music. You have a tin ear for blue notes.

  86. Mr. Anon says:

    How about a list of 80s slang?

  87. I was born in 1959 and groovy has been dorky every since I can remember, certainly from Junior high school in 1970 or so.

    Same with square, heavy, a lot of that really super hippie stuff. Honestly, I think it maybe only had currency among an avant garde for a year or two and then had a few years of currency among wannabes for another year or two, then everyone who every used the term used it ironically.

    I’m a little young for the hippie thing, but in the Dazed/Confused hippie aftermath generation of the seventies, a lot of the hippie stuff was adopted. But definitely not groovy.

    I’d actually like to find some people that every used “groovy” earnestly/sincerely. I’ve always felt like it was some sort of joke.

  88. meh says:

    Marge, when kids these days say `bad’, they mean `good’. And to `shake your booty’ means to wiggle one’s butt. Permit me to demonstrate.

  89. Jeppo says:

    “Like”

    When did, like, this word, like, become the, like, most ubiquitous, like, in the English language? Especially, like, with females, like, under the age of, like, 30 or so.

  90. charlie says:

    http://www.neh.gov/humanities/2014/julyaugust/feature/how-did-cool-become-such-big-deal-0

    “Next, I tally up three ingredients that my vague sense of history tells me are essential to cool at this point in time: Cool is urban; it is strongly associated with jazz; and it has something to do with race.

    In a word, cool is black. Or, to be more accurate, there was a historical period in the evolution of the modern concept of cool when it seemed to be a property, largely but not exclusively, of African Americans.”

  91. Art Deco says:Website

    @John

    “Bitchin’” is Southern California vernacular ca. 1985. Not heard in the non-demented parts of the country.

  92. Art Deco says:Website

    @ex-Submarine Officer

    Someone reviewing a book on the Jeffrey MacDonald case offered that evidence of MacDonald’s perjury was his attribution to one of the supposed attackers of the line “acid is groovy; kill the pigs”. The reviewer’s recollection was that by 1970 no one who actually did drugs would have used the term ‘groovy’. Only talk show host Mike Douglas would have used the term.

  93. Art Deco says:Website

    @Peter

    I couldn’t figure out why the producers threw in that line.

    Obituaries of Robert Reed remarked that he was given to composing detailed memoranda to writers, directors, and others on that program about why plots did not make sense, characterizations did not make sense, dialogue did not make sense (“Sherwood, cooked strawberries have no aroma..”), &c. Evidently the man was trained in Shakespearean theatre, found the whole business embarrassing (though lucrative), and would retreat to local bars to self-medicate.

  94. Art Deco says:Website

    @Mr. Anon

    Actually, most of it had disappeared from current (non-ironic) usage by 1973.

  95. markflag says:

    @Steve Sailer

    Card carrying (Medicare alas) baby boomer here. “Awesome” was not part of the vocabulary. In addition ‘like’ was not used as punctuation though the unfortunate ‘like, wow’ may have been a progenitor.

  96. @Art Deco

    [Robert Reed] would retreat to local bars to self-medicate.

    Or to local boys.

  97. wwebd says:

    @Jacobite

    Jacobite – my point was that the cool jazz musicians (many of whom were really good, and you missed Chet Baker and Horace Silver, by the way) foolishly limited their potential musical talent, and their ability to spend more of their musical life not being boring, by following an economic trend, forced on them by music industry executives. As someone who loves jazz, I have no doubt that each of the three musicians you mentioned at one point in his life deeply regretted his ideological mistakes which lessened the expression of his talent and love for music and for the audience.

  98. Art Deco says:Website

    @Jeppo

    Common by 1975 if not earlier. Used to annoy the bejeesus out of my mother (whose speech patterns would have been fixed ca. 1948).

  99. Art Deco says:Website

    @Reg Cæsar

    Reed was at the time of his death long divorced with a daughter and grandchild. He lived in Pasadena with his ancient parents and supposedly had a single-digit list of friends he’d met in work settings (E.G. Marshall was one). No gay nexus around the man at all. At some point or another he contracted HIV, so he did some cruising.

  100. Jacobite says:Website

    @wwebd

    “I have no doubt that each of the three musicians you mentioned at one point in his life deeply regretted his ideological mistakes which lessened the expression of his talent and love for music and for the audience.”

    Well there was always heroin to assuage their regrets. I almost added “Baker, Evans, et al.” to my sentence or maybe all the musicians on Kind of Blue. BTW, contrary to your statement about regret, Miles Davis thought the hard bop that he began with, and its increasingly complex chord changes, as hindering his creativity. So did Charlie Parker apparently. Unlike you so-called purists I absolutely love the album Charlie Parker with Strings which was most definitely both melodic and “cool.” It’s got Mitch Miller on oboe! :-)

  101. Jacobite says:Website

    @Art Deco

    “Bitchin’ is Southern California vernacular ca. 1985.”

    This term first gained prominence among gremmies (now Australianized into “grom” from grommet, from gremmie, from gremlin) like myself in the early 1960′s. As in: “My big brah (from The Islands pidgin) and I grabbed our sticks and piled into his cool short for a quick spin down to the beach but all the parking spots had been taken by hodads!

  102. JB says:

    Keep on truckin’, people, even though it was left out of the list.

  103. “What it is”

    Used in the black community as an all-purpose answer, e.g., “What’s the haps, baby?” Ans: “What it is, what it is..”

  104. @ James Kabala “I think the more strongly a 1960s word is associated with hippies, the more likely it is to be mocked.”

    Yeah, that’s it. You win the Pattern Recognition Award for this thread.

  105. Current Commenter says:

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