Back to Articles

17 slang terms from the 1950s we want everyone to start using again

Don't worry, in 60 years, few will remember what "fleek" means. Slang changes; language evolves. This hip vocabulary is largely driven by the youth. The things teenagers said in the 1950s might sound like a foreign language to modern ears.

If fashion can come back, why not slang? The vernacular of teens in the 1950s was as colorful as their poodle skirts. 

Seeing how we air television shows from the Eisenhower Era, series like The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and Adventures of Superman, you might come across some of these terms. What is your favorite slang from midcentury America?


1

agitate the gravel / cop a breeze

"to leave"

Both mean the same thing, to make like a tree and leave. We are not partial to any one, so we recommend just mixing it up.

2

apple butter

"flattery, smooth talk"

There's a lot of apple butter in bars, on the campaign trail and at work, so you'll have many chances to use this. Come to think of it, delicious apple butter, the food, is rather underused these days, too.

3

blanket

"sandwich"

This still does not explain why Michael Jackson called his son Blanket.

4

duck butt

"a greaser hairstyle where the hair in the back is combed toward the middle"

As seen on Elvis, Kenickie and James Dean. Also known as the D.A. — but we try to keep it clean.

5

earth pads

"shoes"

Though, a lot of the sneakers of today look like they're made for outer space.

6

fat city

"the place to be, a good situation"

Sample usage: "It's Bring Your Dog to Work Day. My office is going to be Fat City!"

7

flutter bum

"a good looking male"

We'd love to see the looks on the faces of One Direction when a bunch of giddy girls hold up signs that say, "1D are totes flutter bums!"

8

fuzzy duck

"a girl with short hair"

Ah, the picture fooled you. You thought we were talking about the water fowl.

9

go for pinks

"to drag race"

When racers put their hot rods head-to-head, they would put up their cars' paperwork as stakes.

10

gringles

"worries"

This sounds like a snack chip from Australia or something Tina Fey would mutter as a curse on 30 Rock.

11

jets

"brains, smarts"

Bringing new meaning to "turn on the jets." Did "sharks" mean something, too?

12

meanwhile, back at the ranch…

"get to the point"

Westerns were the hot form of entertainment of the era, so it's no wonder such a phrase became popular with the impatient. Think of it as the orchestra playing someone off during an Oscars speech. 

13

slurg

"milkshake"

Hmm, on second thought, this sounds a little disgusting.

14

smog in the noggin

"confusion"

This emoji would make more sense if you could see all the pollution in its head.

15

spaz

"klutz"

This one hung around for a few decades. Some of us have the schoolyard memories to prove it.

16

wig chop

"haircut"

Even if there is no longer a wig section in the Sears catalog (or a Sears catalog) we can still make this work in modern lingo.

17

zorros

"anxiety, jitters"

Zorro never struck us as a particularly nervous character, but we dig this boss term.

Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Advertise