Back in the 1950s we would describe something very good or nice as “swell.” It was a slang word — one of many. We called a small child an “ankle biter.” The hipsters used “Daddy-O” as a term of endearment.
A decade later — during the 1960s — we had another round of slang. Something that was excellent or beyond description was “far out.” We loved to refer to something new, exciting or fashionable as “groovy.” And something that was relaxing or care-free was “mellow.” I recall that mellow had some relationship with cannabis, too.
Every generation of young people has its own slang. When my children were still at home I could kind-of, sort-of keep up with the vernacular of the youth, but here it is 2023 and I have no idea what the “slanguage du jour” might be.
As always, I am curious so I did some research. They used to say “inquiring minds want to know.” Do they still say that?
Here are some current slang terms.
The first slang word on my list is “boujee,” also spelled “bougie.” If you studied French you are familiar with the root of this slang term — bourgeois or bourgeoisie which refers to the middle class. In today’s slang terms boujee means luxurious or fancy. When you get all gussied up you might be described by your grandkids as boujee.
Back in my youth I recall a “drip” as a negative term. Someone who was a dork might also be a drip. Today “drip” has gone uptown. It might be said of something that is boujee “that purse is dripping.” In other words, it is stylish or sophisticated.
Sixty years ago “salty” was a slang sign of approval. A song may be salty and a friend’s car may be salty. These days “salty” has a new slang definition, an adverb meaning “over-reacting.” If you over-react to a critical remark your action might be referred to as salty.
Back in 1957, Elvis was all shook up. Believe it or not, a current slang term is reminiscent of Elvis’ condition. Today “shook” means one is shocked or stunned. If you are shocked by an event in the news it could be said of you that you are shook.
After high school I purchased a 1960 Chevrolet Corvair. It was General Motors’ rear-engine, air-cooled automobile with a trunk in the front. With the progress of electric vehicles today (and the lack of an internal combustion engine in the front of the car) younger folks have come up with a name for the trunk in the front: frunk. I like that. And I wish I still had that Corvair.
I grew up with thrift shopping. My eighth-grade graduation suit was purchased in a second-hand clothing store. Recently I saw a television news story about some thrift shoppers’ discontent with wealthier people who shop at thrift stores. “The rich people get all the good bargains,” someone complained. Believe it or not, there is a slang phrase for this phenomenon. These more well-off thrift store shoppers are called a “thrift threat.”
Have you heard the term “hinky?” Hinky has several slang definitions. It can mean nervous, jittery, suspicious, dishonest or suspect. A more recent definition is something that is strange or weird or out of place. Now there’s a slang term that is flexible. Your grandkids will think you’re cool if you call something hinky.
Finally, I like this slang term that came out of a high school in Indiana. For dessert tonight I want a “shookie.” A shookie is a large chocolate cookie topped by a big dollop of vanilla soft serve ice cream.
So there you have an update on modern day slang. Whether you are boujee or drip, enjoy your shookie but don’t be hinky.
Arvid Huisman began writing Country Roads 32 years ago, and today the column appears in several Iowa newspapers. He can be contacted at [email protected].