As 2014 rolls in, I was immediately concerned that my slang would need a serious update in order for me to stay cutting-edge hip.
OK. I will never be hip, but I love to at least speak their language. I find the evolution of slang one of the best parts of the word world. Keep in mind I have been observing it for … ummmm … I’ll admit to several decades.
I never actually used the ‘50s slang, like “Daddy-o,” “hep cat,” “classy chassis,” “peepers (eyeglasses), “Crazy, man,” “Real gone” or “Put an egg in your shoe and beat it!” but my big brother did.
I carried over into the ‘60s with “Cruisin’ for a bruising,” “Fat City,” “Race for pinks,” “Made in the shade,” a “Punk,” and “Meanwhile, back at the ranch” (from all the Westerns on TV).
One I don’t remember, but that I plan to start using immediately was “Shoot low, they’re riding Shetlands,” meaning, “Be careful.”
I rolled with “Bitchen,” “Boogie, Bogart, booking,” “That’s boss,” “Bummer,” to “Cut down” meaning to insult, going to the flicks and freaking out.
I was fascinated to find some ‘50s expressions that are apparently classics and still in use — maybe not by Jay Z or Kanye, but by some of the younger folks I encounter. There is “dibs,” as in “Dibs on that last cookie,” “Cooties,” and “Had a blast,” “Hanging out,” and “Ankle-biter” for annoying toddlers.
I’m sorry to report that cray-cray, amazeballs, totes, “I know, right?,” and adorbs are approaching the chopping block. And selfie, twerk, phablet, emoji, TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) and “srsly” have been added to the online Oxford Dictionary, which may be their death-knell.
If you are going to be truly cool (another ‘50s holdover), you should probably find ways to include omnishambles (a hot mess), double denim (too much denim in one outfit), dad dancing (find Jimmy Fallon on Youtube), binge-watching, mummy porn (steamy novels for women) and second screening (using phone, computer or tablet at the same time) in your everyday speech.
That all sounds really nifty to me.
Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who probably needs to stick with the Queen’s English. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.