In the 1980s, teens wore bright colors, used slang and created their own culture. Some girls spoke like Valley Girls in an attempt to attract teenage boys. Others hung out with surfers or the mallrats, which were two subcultures with their own lingo. Both wanted you to know that they were not be confused with the nerds and the dweebs.
Teenagers on the coasts were able to catch some gnarly waves after school. Everyone else was stuck listening to the radio or popping cassettes into their boomboxes and Walkmans. If you were lucky, you could watch MTV to discover new music. Fortunately for music lovers, this was the time when Michael Jackson was bad. Those who enjoyed harder music headbanged to Twisted Sister and Poison songs as their sisters listened to Madonna and Cyndi Lauper.
After dinner, the family would gather 'round the TV and watch rad shows like "The A-Team," "MacGyver," and "Miami Vice."
Did this intro get you amped? Or do the '80s make you want to exclaim "gag me with a spoon?" Will you find this quiz to be dope or will you feel like a doofus because you forgot what some words mean? Don't wig out. It's time to get stoked and test your '80s slang vocabulary!
Outside of slang, "gnarly" means twisted. In the 1970s, the word entered surfer slang. By 1982, it spread into teen slang where it picked up the dual meanings of both "awesome" and "disgusting."
"Gag me with a spoon" entered 80s slang from Val-speak. Val-speak is social dialect used by Valley Girls, who lived in the San Fernando Valley.
"Psych" has many meanings that are not an abbreviation for psychology. You can say "psych" at the end of a sentence that was meant as a joke. You also can "be psyched," which means to be excited.
"Radical" can be shortened to "rad." In 1982, both versions entered slang.
In 1973, "amped-up" started to be used to express intense excitement. The earliest known use of it being shortened to "amped" comes from 1981.
The word "bodacious" was popular in the 1980s. However, its first usage dates to 1832. Merriam-Webster believes the word is most likely a blend of "bold" and "audacious."
"Airhead" did not always mean a stupid person. It was originally a military term for a secured area in hostile territory used for bringing in supplies and more troops. The name derives from the fact that these areas were usually secured by airborne troops.
The Simpsons helped popularize, "Don't have a cow." The British idiom don't "have kittens" means the same thing.
The phrase chill pill predates the 1980s. In the 1800s, recipe books would print recipes for "chill pills," which were pills that were intended to help with the chills from high fevers. The original phrase has nothing to do with the more modern version.
"Bite me" is generally considered rude. It is also used to express annoyance.
Fresh first appeared in the 13th century. Over time, it has evolved to mean many things. It can mean something is not stale, something original and someone who lacks experience.
Posse comes from "posse comitatus," which is Medieval Latin for "authority of the county." It usually referred to a group of people a sheriff would summon to help preserve the peace in an area.
Dr. Seuss coined "nerd." It first appeared in his 1950s book "If I Ran the Zoo." At the time it was not used as a synonym for "geek."
In 1509, "totally" entered the English language. It use as slang is an extension of its original meaning of "completely."
In the 1880s, a dude was a dandy. In the 1960s, the word was appropriated by surfer culture. A female "dude" is a "dudette."
In 1985, 411 started to apply to "the skinny." 411 was chosen because it is the number used to reach directory assistance.
In the 1980s, to the max became slang for "to reach the maximum level." Anther phrase that uses max is "max out," which is to reach the limit of something.
In general, the world "burn" comes from the Middle English "bernen." Other slang phrases featuring burn are "to burn a bridge," "to burn oneself out," "to burn the candle at both ends," and "to burn the midnight oil."
"Veg out" is slang for vegetate. It became common in the mid-1980s. Prior to then, "veg" was used as an abbreviation of vegetable.
"As if" is used to show derision. You could also say "you wish" or "whatever."
Back in the 1800s, a bogus was a machine that made counterfeit coins. The word bogus was eventually applied to anything "phony."
"Duh" was first used in 1943. At the time, it was used to feign ignorance.
Yuppie was coined in the early 1980s. It is short for either "young urban professional" or "young, upwardly-mobile professional."
Wicked can be used as an adjective or an adverb. In either usage, it serves as an intensifier of something that is deemed impressive.
In 2010, "whatever" topped a Marist poll for the most annoying word in the English language. Of the 1,020 Americans surveyed, 39 percent found "whatever" to be more annoying than "like" and "you know what I mean."
While "cowabunga" became popular in the 1980s, it did not originate then. In 1954, it was said on "The Howdy Doody Show" by "Chief Thunderthud." It became popular later on due to its use in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."
Barf me out is always used in that order and used to show disgust. However, "barf out" means to become very upset or to freak out.
"Grody" got its start in the Frank Zappa song "Valley girls." It is often used in the phrase "grody to the max."
Originally, a stud was a male horse kept for breeding. In the late 1890s, the word morphed to mean a man who is proficient sexually. At the beginning of the 1900s, stud took on the meaning of any man.
Wannabe entered American English from surfer slang. It became popular when people used it to refer to female fans of Madonna.
Party hardy is sometimes rendered as "party hearty." The latter version was created because it rhymes.
While bad literally means inadequate, it became a popular alternative to "awesome" in the 1980s. Some idioms with bad are "my bad," which means it's my fault, and "not bad," which means that something is adequate.
"Dweeb" was first recorded in the mid-1960s and may come from college slang. It gained popularity in the 1980s.
If something is "the bomb," it is good. However, if something "bombs," it is a failure.
In 1869, "poseur," which is sometimes spelled "poser," entered English. It comes from the French verb "poser," which means to affect an attitude.