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53 Slang Terms by Decade

In 1930s slang, these musicians got a gig at the juke joint.
In 1930s slang, these musicians got a gig at the juke joint.

Every generation has its slang -- new words and phrases that allow kids to communicate without their parents understanding. Read on to learn some of the most popular slang terms through the decades.

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  1. 23 skiddoo -- to get going; move along; leave; or scram
  2. The cat's pajamas -- the best; the height of excellence
  3. Gams -- legs
  4. The real McCoy -- sincere; genuine; the real thing
  5. Hotsy-totsy -- perfect
  6. Moll -- a female companion of a gangster
  7. Speakeasy -- a place where alcohol was illegally sold and drunk during Prohibition
  8. The bee's knees -- excellent; outstanding

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  1. I'll be a monkey's uncle -- sign of disbelief; I don't believe it!
  2. Gig -- a job
  3. Girl Friday -- a secretary or female assistant
  4. Juke joint -- a casual and inexpensive establishment with drinking, dancing, and blues music, typically in the southeastern United States
  5. Skivvies -- men's underwear

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  1. Blockbuster -- a huge success
  2. Keeping up with the Joneses -- competing to have a lifestyle or socioeconomic status comparable to one's neighbors
  3. Cool -- excellent; clever; sophisticated; fashionable; or enjoyable
  4. Sitting in the hot seat -- in a highly uncomfortable or embarrassing situation
  5. Smooch -- kiss

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  1. Big brother is watching you -- someone of authority is monitoring your actions
  2. Boo-boo -- a mistake; a wound
  3. Hi-fi -- high fidelity; a record player or turntable
  4. Hipster -- an innovative and trendy person

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  1. Daddy-o -- a man; used to address a hipster or beatnik
  2. Groovy -- cool; hip; excellent
  3. Hippie -- derived from hipster; a young adult who rebelled against established institutions, criticized middle-class values, opposed the Vietnam War, and promoted sexual freedom
  4. The Man -- a person of authority; a group in power

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  1. Catch you on the flip side -- see you later
  2. Dig it -- to like or understand something
  3. Get down/Boogie -- dance
  4. Mind-blowing -- unbelievable; originally an expression for the effects of hallucinogenic drugs
  5. Pump iron -- lift weights
  6. Workaholic -- a person who works too much or is addicted to his or her job

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  1. Bodacious -- beautiful
  2. Chillin' -- relaxing
  3. Dweeb -- a nerd; someone who is not cool
  4. Fly -- cool; very hip
  5. Gag me with a spoon -- disgusting
  6. Gnarly -- exceptional; very cool
  7. Preppy -- one who dresses in designer clothing and has a neat, clean-cut appearance
  8. Wicked -- excellent; great
  9. Yuppie -- Young Urban Professional; a college-educated person with a well-paying job who lives near a big city; often associated with a materialistic and superficial personality

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  1. Diss -- show disrespect
  2. Get jiggy -- dance; flirt
  3. Homey/Homeboy -- a friend or buddy
  4. My bad -- my mistake
  5. Phat -- cool or hip; highly attractive; hot
  6. Wassup? -- What's up?; How are you?
  7. Word -- yes; I agree

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  1. Barney Bag -- a gigantic purse
  2. Newbie -- a newcomer; someone who is inexperienced
  3. Peeps -- friends; people
  4. Rents -- parents
  5. Sweet -- beyond cool

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CONTRIBUTING WRITERS:

Helen Davies, Marjorie Dorfman, Mary Fons, Deborah Hawkins, Martin Hintz, Linnea Lundgren, David Priess, Julia Clark Robinson, Paul Seaburn, Heidi Stevens, and Steve Theunissen

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