There are a bunch of US, Australian, English and New Zealand slang terms that were all pretty big when I was a kid and teenager. (That's mid-seventies to late eighties). Hardly any of them have survived, though a few have. Some have morphed into shortened versions ("veg out" became "veg"). Some have evolved into updated versions ("Get serious!" was replaced by "Get real!" which is now used slightly differently as "Let's get real"). Some have survived, like linguistic artefacts, as ancestors of former phrases (we no longer say "kick the bucket" but we do have a "bucket list").
Some fell out of favor and then came back. The best example I can think of is "Far out!", which was a quaint, funny seventies slang term not used in the eighties, but is now back in use. I think maybe it's because it's a handy stand-in for "F- - -!" to use in polite society or in front of children.
There were some that seemed funny and totally fine at the time but seem a bit offensive in retrospect - "ghetto blaster" comes to mind, along with "spazz" and other playground insults best left in the past.
Slang is funny. The ones that stick are easy and clever, and there are others that try too hard, take too long to say (e.g., "technicolour yawn") or just won't work. ("Gretchen, stop trying to make 'fetch' happen").
Some are resisted, uselessly. In New Zealand in the eighties I remember an Anglophile newspaper columnist bemoaning the use of the American "slang" term (keep in mind New Zealand was a pretty old-fashioned place back then) "hired and fired" and wondered why we couldn't use the "better" British English version "backed and sacked". As we say these days: good luck with that.
But even slang terms that are not resisted, are really popular and seem destined to stick around, seem to mostly eventually fall away. Just ask your parents what terms they used to use as teenagers. Or watch a movie from your own youth, and be reminded of all the things you thought you'd be saying forever.
Do you remember these?
- That's heavy (serious or profound)
- No shit, Sherlock
- Get serious!
- What a whacker (Australian - was eventually replaced here by the English 'wanker')
- It's a joke, Joyce
- Der, Fred
- Choice! (chiefly New Zealand)
- Couch potato
- Veg out
- Cool bananas (still in use - supposedly ironically - by people my age; also 'Coolio')
- Brill (brilliant)
- Brillo pad (inevitable evolution of "brill")
- No way, Jose
- "So funny I forgot to laugh" (Sarcastic. I think it was a thing only kids said, but we said it a lot)
- space cadet
- propeller head (nerd)
- Poindexter (nerd)
- spazz attack (go crazy/freak out)
- technicolour yawn (vomit)
- chuck a party
- metal mouth / brace face (someone wearing orthodontic braces)
- As if!
- Like, oh my god! (ermahgerd!)
- Go jump in the lake / Go take a long walk off a short pier
- Sit and spin
- (Something) City - as in, if there were a lot of bad people somewhere, it was "Scumbag City"
- pash (kiss)
- suck face (kiss)
- kicked the bucket / bought the farm (died)
- porchlight on dim (one card short of a full deck; not all dogs barking; cuckoo)
How about these once popular sayings and quotes:
- Whatchu talkin' bout Willis? (from the TV show Diff'rent Strokes)
- Hang in there! (poster - branch - kitten. Remember?)
- It's hard to fly like an eagle when you're surrounded by turkeys (also a popular poster)
- Happiness is a warm puppy (from Snoopy)
- You wouldn't like me when I'm angry. (from the TV show The Incredible Hulk)
- Let's be careful out there (from the TV show Hill Street Blues)
- "Holy (something), Batman!" (from the TV show Batman and Robin)
- Good thinking, Ninety-Nine (from the TV show Get Smart)
Have you got any more?
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