Do You Know The Meaning Of These Old-Timey Words?

Monica Lee

What does "Don't have a cow" mean?

Don't get upset or have a cow about it if you guessed incorrectly. Stop moaning about it, and go to the next question.

What does this mean: "You're a Mickey Mouse"?

"Don't have a cow because I'm the most and you're Mickey Mouse." Mickey Mouse is a rule-follower and very boring.

When you call someone "Daddy-O," who are you referring to?

"Hey dude." "What's up, Daddy-O?" It's the same expression, just a different era.

What is going on with you if you have too much "smog in the noggin"?

Weirdly enough, noggin didn't originate in your parents' or grandparents' generation. Noggin has been in the language since the late sixteenth century, meaning head!

"Gosh, she's so moldy." What are you saying about someone?

We're talking dullsville, man. If someone is moldy - like a teacher - she is soooo dull. It's like watching mold grow.

Don't call me a "nosebleed." What does that mean?

Back in the day, it was all about "being a man." If you were a nosebleed you were a scared wimp, afraid to tussle.

What does "Put an egg in your shoe and beat it" mean?

It's similar to "Make like a tree and leave (leaf)." The person wants you to beat it, take off, or go away.

If you're told you've got a "classy chassis," what does that mean?

Chassis refers to the structure or framework of a car. But when directed towards a person, it means they have a great figure.

If you're asked, "How does my duck butt look?" what is the topic of discussion?

The duck butt or ducktail is a haircut style that was popular during the 1950s. It can also be described as slicked back hair.

"Agitate the gravel" is an interesting way to say what?

If you drive away quickly, you are bound to agitate the gravel on the road. You can also "Put the pedal to the metal" to get the same effect.

"You really razz my berries." What does that mean?

In the fifties, you knew you were on a great date if the person told you that you razz his/her berries Get to a soda fountain right away.

What was the meaning of "What a fake out" back then?

You're on a terrible date if you think the guy is a fake out. You think the guy is shallow and conceited.

"I'm really diggin' these far-out sounds" refers to what?

You're really enjoying the music if you dig those far-out sounds. Groovy!

"Man, this is Fat City" means what?

When you're living the good life, you're in Fat City, having fun. You're enjoying the time of your life.

"Anyone see my due backs?" What is the person looking for?

Due backs are cigarettes. Some believe that term was used because if you let someone borrow a cigarette, it's due back to you.

When you're in a conversation and someone says, "Ain’t that a bite," what does it mean?

If someone says, "Ain't that a bite," they mean that's too bad, it must have hurt your feeling when it happened. Or simply, "That sucks."

What about the "ankle-biter"? What are you referring to?

Little dogs are usually called ankle-biters, but back in the day the term referred to children - the kind of children who constantly needed attention. Cover your ankles.

You're having a conversation and the person says to you,"Are you writing a book?" What do they mean?

It's a sarcastic way to say, "What's up with all the questions?" Another interpretation is, "You must be a reporter or writing a book for you to be peppering me with so many questions."

If you're playing "back seat bingo," what are you doing?

It's pretty straight-forward. No games here, just two people kissing in the back seat of a car. Bingo! You figured it out.

"Bad news" had a whole different meaning back then. What was it?

A person who ruins the mood of the party or a conversation is a downer, or "bad news." You don't want to invite this person to go anywhere with you.

What did "baking biscuits" mean back in the day?

Baking is a process, and in this case the process is making records. The biscuits refer to the records that are played on a turntable.

Hot rodders knew what "bent eight" meant. What is it?

When you talk about the 'bent eight," you're talking about the power of the engine. That's specifically a V-8 engine.

If someone has "binoculars," what do they have?

You had no choice to wear contacts in the '50s. If you couldn't see, you needed glasses, and they were thick lenses. So thick sometimes that they were called binoculars.

How should you react if someone comes up to you and says, "Come on snake, let’s rattle!"

You should move and wriggle like a rattlesnake. And dance your tail off!

What does a "wet sock" refer to?

A limp handshake says a lot about a person, enough so, that a term in the '30s was used to describe it. So if you knew what a wet sock was, you probably learned it from your great-grandparents.

Okay, you "knucklehead," what does that slang mean?

During the ’40s, Americans came up with a term for a stupid person - a knucklehead. It was also used to describe a foolish person.

If you're a "goof-off," what activity might you be doing?

Not using your time wisely is what a goof-off does. It's someone who loiters or wastes time. Not a hard worker.

What does "fuddy-duddy" refer to?

An old-fashioned person would be called a "fuddy-duddy" if they are stuck in the old ways of doing things and don't want to change. It's rhyme time.

What is a "spaz"?

Teens of the 1950s had plenty of terms of derision. A "spaz" was a klutz or someone who was clumsy and uncoordinated.

Another term of derision, what does a "wimp" refer to?

A "wimp" is a physical or emotional weakling. A person who is easy to push around or persuade to do something they don't want to do - that's a wimp.

Back then, what did a "ditz" refer to?

A "ditz" was a female idiot back then. It also described a woman who was scatter-brained and had a hard time paying attention to a conversation.

What did a "dipstick" refer to, way back when?

We were still in the '50s when a dipstick was a male equivalent of a ditz or an idiot. It's someone who just doesn't get it.

If you're a "kiss-up," what are you?

A "kiss-up" was a teacher’s pet. Someone who brown-noses or butters up the person in authority to gain special favors or accolades.

Okay, here's a hard one. What did "pang-wangle" mean back then?

To "pang-wangle" is to live or go along cheerfully in spite of minor misfortunes. It's someone who hopes for the best, even though the situation isn't the best.

If you describe someone as "scurvy," what are you saying about them?

In the '60s, "scurvy" meant ugly or weird or having a nasty appearance. Scurvy is also a disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin C, that leaves people with swollen bleeding gums and open wounds. It's easy to see how this word was adapted to describe a scary-looking person.

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About This Quiz

Don't have a cow if you don't know the answers to these quiz questions! We won't call you a ditz or dip stick if you don't get every answer right. But we will take some choice words from lingo of the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s and find out how much boss language was passed down through the generations in your family. 

Maybe you already knew that in the 1950s, teenagers sometimes referred to smaller children as ankle-biters or that contemporaries who weren't liked were called germs. Yep, kids can be cruel and you might have heard spaz, clod or wimp, borrowed from your parents, that your siblings used to taunt you when growing up. 

Come the 1960s, rock and roll and being hip had a lingo of its own, from calling people "Daddy-O" to telling your friends "I'm really diggin' these far-out sounds." Teens of the '60s were groovin' and jivin' in their own time and space.  

But before you get all decked out and dance holes in your soles with the music machine, make sure you take time to answer this quiz. You'll be amazed at how well you get with the words and hang tough on the hard ones.

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