Throughout the years, America has learned to evolve. In the late 1700s, we were slave to British rule. By the eighteenth century, we became our own slave masters. We went from fighting our oppressors to fighting our brothers. Yet the nation managed to come out the other side.
Our values have changed over the years. We are less dependent on agriculture and more dependent on technology. Less focused on the goal of the “American dream” and instead, concerned with our means of achieving it. However, not all forms of change have been quite as drastic and physical. Our words have become, in the past century alone, things of amusement and befuddlement.
Americans have always had a colorful vernacular. HowStuffWorks offers an incredible list of slang terms. For example, in the 1900s, people thought of as stupid or idiots were referred to as “goops.”
The 1920s phrase “the cat’s pajamas” is equivalent to today’s use of the word “lit,” which describes anything that is considered awesome or the best. (“Lit” can also translate to drunk.)
The roaring ’20s and prohibition lead to some of the most creative slang terms in American history. After all, people needed a way to cheat the system. In order to avoid detection of the unlawful consumption of alcoholic beverages, the terms “giggle juice” and “zozzled” were coined. They stood in place of alcohol and drunk, respectively. The 1920s was the era that utilized the powers of misdirection: “I have to go see a man about a dog” was code for “I’m going to go buy alcohol.”
Several other slang terms and phrases have decorated the decades, but some stand out. In the 1940s, “motorized freckles” was a term bestowed upon insects. The phrase “Come on snake, let’s rattle!” was prominent in the 1950s and had one of two meanings; you could use it to ask a girl to dance or to challenge someone to a fight. Today, though, we just tell each other to square up, that we’re gonna throw hands.
Eye-catching slang phrases of the 1970s were “See you on the flip side,” meaning “see ya later” and “Stop dipping in my Kool-Aid!” Simply put, this phrase means to stay out of someone’s business. A far cry from today’s demand for privacy.
Another phrase is that of “get jiggy.” This piece of glorious poetry was popular in the 1990s. It translates to the act of dancing and/or flirting.
Slang is a vital part of our language, of who we are as a generation. Our slang defines us as “dope” and “on fleek.” So, if our slang defines us, what does yours say about you?