10 Slang Words That Used To Be Cool But Aren’t Anymore


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As societies evolve and new trends emerge, so do the ways we express ourselves. This can lead to shifts in the slang words and phrases we use (psych, anyone?). What was once considered cool and commonly used in conversations — especially among younger generations — might now be considered outdated or even cringe-worthy. 

Join us as we revisit some of the most popular slang words from the past that have since fallen out of favor.

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1. ‘Groovy’

Originating with the jazz culture of the 1920s and ’30s, “groovy” found its peak in the ’70s within the hippie and music scenes. The word was used to describe something that was cool or awesome. Over time, as music and cultural references evolved, “groovy” became less common and is now often used in a nostalgic or humorous context.

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2. ‘Radical’ (Rad)

In the ’80s, the word “radical” was shortened to “rad” and became popular among skaters and surfers, particularly in California. It was used to describe something impressive or extreme, but in a positive way. Though it saw a resurgence in popularity due to 1980s nostalgia, “rad” is less commonly used today in its original context.

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3. ‘Phat’

Peaking in the 1990s — particularly within the hip-hop and rap communities — the word “phat” stood for “pretty, hot, and tempting,” and was used to describe something that was fun and cool, or to compliment an attractive person. Despite its popularity at the time, the term has largely fallen out of favor and is rarely used in modern slang.

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4. ‘Bogus’

Originating in the late 20th century, “bogus” was commonly used among teenagers and young adults to describe something that was phony, disingenuous, or unfair. The term gained popularity through movies and TV shows, but has since seen a decline in use as newer expressions like “whack” and “lame” have taken its place.

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5. ‘Tubular’

Another term that owes its popularity to the surfing culture of the 1980s, “tubular” was used to describe something that was awesome or excellent. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, it was most commonly used to describe a “hollow, curling wave, ideal for riding.” Like many slang terms from the era, “tubular” is rarely used today, except in jest or when mimicking popular slang terms of that time. 

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6. ‘All That and a Bag of Chips’

Emerging in the 1990s, this phrase was used to describe someone or something that was considered the best (or beyond excellent). It was also used in a negative way to refer to someone who was arrogant or conceited (for example, thinking “they’re all that”). Though quite popular in the late ’80s and ’90s, it’s rarely used today. Now, you’re more likely to hear “lit” or “sick” as a way to convey superiority or excellence.

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7. ‘Bling-Bling’

Coined in the late 1990s and early 2000s, “bling-bling” was used to refer to flashy, ostentatious jewelry, and was widely used in hip-hop culture. While the idea of extravagance (think gold chains, exotic cars, and parties) continues to be a big part of the music industry, “bling-bling” has fallen out of common usage. Today, terms like “drip” or “ice” are more frequently used to describe luxury items, especially jewelry. 

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8. ‘Talk to the Hand’

Hugely popular throughout the ’90s, this term was used to diss someone or to express a dismissive attitude toward what someone else was saying. It was often accompanied by a physical gesture of raising a hand toward the speaker. Though both phrase and gesture are largely outdated, we still love to use this one from time to time.

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9. ‘Psych!’

Popular in the late ’80s and early ’90s, “psych” was used after making a statement to indicate that one was joking, or to note that the previous statement was untrue. Though it was commonly used as a prank like, “Ha, I got you!,” the term has largely been phased out and replaced with phrases like “JK” (just kidding) or “gotcha.”

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10. ‘Cowabunga’

Popularized in the 1950s by TV show “Howdy Doody,” the term reached new heights thanks to the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” cartoon in the late ’80s and early ’90s. It was used to express enthusiasm and delight, or to signal the start of an adventure. While still used in some contexts, “cowabunga” is rarely used among young generations. 

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