Friday, October 7, 2016

Sixties slang revisited

Leafing through Tom Dalzell's Flappers 2 Rappers: American Youth Slang, I stopped leafing and started reading when I reached the 1960s, the time of my own youth. I found myself sorting the various slang terms into groups.

Slang I don't remember ever hearing, either then or since

all woke up - Well informed on the latest styles and fashions. (Maybe that's because I have never been well informed on the latest styles and fashions.)

bad motorcycle - A person who is cool but manipulative.

bag some food for the brains - Study hard. (I was in college during the Sixties, but I'm pretty sure I never heard this term.)

eatin' the grapes right off the wallpaper - Very disturbed.

messy attic - A confused or distracted mind. (I like this one and wish I had picked it up at the time.)

submarine races - Lovers lane.

There are dozens more, but that's a good sample.

Slang I knew but would have never used

burn rubber - To leave quickly. (I tended to avoid slang that sounded like slang.)

make the scene - To visit, to stop by. (To this day I recoil at that phrase.)

sock it to me - let me have it.

You ain't front page news - You're not as cool as you think you are.

Z's - Sleep.

Slang I actually used

ace - To do very well. (Back in college, we all spoke about acing tests, although I always assumed it meant getting an A, not just doing well.)

check it out - To listen, to investigate.

hairy - Difficult.

rinky-dink - Trivial.

shot down - To be rejected.

womp - To defeat soundly.

Slang still used today

bod - Body or physique.

boob tube - Television.

jock - An athlete.

lame - Out of style, pathetic.

moon - To expose one's buttocks

straight - Honest, on the level.

tennies - Tennis shoes.

Last night I happened to watch an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies from the 1960s in which the Clampetts come to the aid of a hipster who, because he speaks only in slang they cannot understand, they assume to be mentally ill. Youth slang begins with the purpose of separation, the young from the old, the cool from the uncool. Eventually the slang terms age right along with those who use it, and they become part of common speech.

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