Popular (& Sometimes Really Gross) Slang Throughout the Years


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If you want to gain an appreciation for how different the world is today than it was decades ago, all you have to do is look at the slang terms of the past. You will recognize very few of them, and those rare ones that are familiar will sound hopelessly outdated to you.


In addition to sounding passé, some of those slang terms are also kind of gross. But whether they’re as inoffensive as the freshly fallen snow or as repugnant as brown slush, we think you’ll enjoy this list of outdated slang terms. If you do, start using them among your friends! They’ll have no idea what you’re going on about.

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1. 23 Skidoo

If you’re pulling a “23 Skidoo,” this means that you are escaping from some location or another as quickly as humanly possible. Today, one might use the term “bounce” to signify making a hasty exit, but for whatever reason, people doing that in the past were said to be involved in a “23 Skidoo.” 

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2. Bee’s Knees

Are you fabulous? Do you attain high levels of awesomeness every day of your life? If the answer is an emphatic “yes,” you would have been said in the not-too-distant past to be “the bee’s knees.” We didn’t know bees had knees, but okay.


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3. Bumping Gums

Do you have a friend, loved one, or coworker who’s constantly going on about inane, one-dimensional nonsense that no one wants to hear about? Many decades ago, such a person would be said to be “bumping gums.” Today, we just tune them out as we scroll through our iPhones.

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4. Cat’s Pajamas

You can only call someone or something “the bee’s knees” so many times before it loses its meaning, so if you feel like that term has been overused, we suggest using the term “the cat’s pajamas” instead. You’re still expressing the same thing, whose modern equivalent would be “lit” or “fire.”

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5. Daddy-O

Most gentlemen deeply resent being called “dude” or “bro” (or, god help us, “bruh”). As an alternative, we recommend using the term “daddy-o.” It means the same thing, but it’s so antiquated and is used so infrequently that it will be hard for anyone to be mad at you for calling them that.

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6. Gams

You might believe that “gams” simply means “legs,” but that’s only partially true. The term refers to legs that are pleasing to the eye, so perhaps “killer legs” or “awesome legs” would be the modern equivalent. Despite the fact that no one really says it today, we advise you not to use it in the workplace, as it will be perceived as gross and will earn you a call from HR.

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7. Hep

The term “hep” is the same thing as “hip,” and it stands in marked opposition to the concept of being a “square.” Today, you could use the term “in the know,” and a few years ago, you probably could have used “woke.” Using “cool” would probably do the trick too.

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8. Moxie

“Moxie” isn’t just a foul-tasting soda originally manufactured in Lowell, Massachusetts. It denotes sass, spunk, and ‘tude, and if you were to say that you admire someone for their “Moxie,” you would be saying the equivalent of “I like the cut of your jib.”

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9. Ossified

Long ago, if you said someone was “ossified,” it was the equivalent of saying that they were falling down, blackout drunk, and hopelessly impaired by alcohol. Examples of this term in daily usage would include “I am too ossified to drive” or “Because I’m so ossified, I cannot operate heavy machinery.”

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10. Pinched

Many years ago, if you were “pinched,” this meant that law enforcement officers had arrested you and thrown you in the clink. The term is used in the movie “GoodFellas” when the young Henry Hill gets arrested. Upon his release, his close personal friend Jimmy Conway tells him to “never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut” when pinched – words to live by.

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11. Razz

Many years ago, if you were making fun of somebody mercilessly, you would not be accused of “trolling” the person. Instead, you would have been said to be “razzing” them. You could also say that you were “roasting” them today, but that term implies that the Friars Club is involved, so stick with “trolling.”


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12. Sockdolager

 The term “sockdolager” describes anyone or anything exceptional or outstanding. So if your teenager brings the house down at the high school talent show, this is because he or she is a “sockdolager.” We don’t expect you to work this term into your everyday lexicon because we have no plans to work it into ours.

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13. Tell it to Sweeney

“Tell it to Sweeney” means something to the effect of “tell it to someone who’s buying that nonsense.” A simple eye-roll accompanying the statement, “Yeah, sure,” will also suffice. So if someone tells you about a fantastic timeshare or multi-level marketing opportunity they want to bring you into, you can instruct them to “Tell it to Sweeney.”

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14. Zozzled

As with “ossified,” saying that someone is “zozzled” means that they’re drunk. Like, really drunk. If you want to use the term in regular conversation, you could say, “David Hasselhoff was completely zozzled when he ate that cheeseburger.”

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