If it’s boss, hip, or happening, you’re bound to be listening to some of the utterly groovy slang words of the late 1960s that still resound with a literary impact on today’s language.
As you go through our list of 1960s slang, you might be surprised to find out how much of it has actually stuck around throughout the decades.
Hey, Man! That’s Boss!
Back in that turbulent decade, you might expand upon the "cool" with a word like "boss." That means something that is really, really cool.
Among the 1960s hipster contingent, the lingo included lots of words to describe superlative experiences.
- Something that was wonderful would be "outta sight" (so great or unbelievable, you just couldn’t take it all in.)
- If something like a musical group was exciting and fantastic, they would be called "fab."
Having the latest and newest of anything, then as now, is of extreme importance to those who are truly hip.
- If an event was "righteous," it was fantastic.
- If a concert was "groovy," it was both outta sight and cool.
In the dating arena (or “scene” to a teenager in the 1960s):
- A pretty girl would be considered "choice."
- If she refused your advances, you might be "bummed out" (depressed or upset).
Maybe the problem was with your bread. No, we’re not talking whole wheat or rye here, we’re talking about "bread" as a 1960s term for money. A lack of bread would be enough to bum anyone out!
Since being cool was of such importance, the worst thing to happen to you (maybe aside from lacking bread) was to be labeled as uncool or "square."
Despite the casual environment of the 1960s, it really was a time of strict social rules if you didn’t want to be ostracized by your pals.
Got a Joint?
Drug use hit a new high in the 1960s, and it came out of the shadows and into the limelight where it was seen as cool.
One of the most common drugs that anyone used was marijuana (known as "pot" or "MJ"). Smoking (or "toking") pot had a tendency to give the user the munchies, and thus they’d count their bread and run out of the house to "scarf down" or "pig out" on junk food, like Cheese Doodles or Ring Dings.
If you were scarfing or pigging, you were eating quickly and eating indiscriminately.
Many slang words in the 1960s spoke of a contempt for authority. The corporate management, politicians and those involved in the legal process were known as "The Man." Police officers were considered as the enforcement arm of "The Man" and were known as "Pigs" (a slur to express disdain), or a bit more politely, "The Fuzz."
If there was a chance of getting caught with a "joint" (a pot cigarette), you’d "book it" (run away quickly) from the pigs!
Learning about slang from different eras can transport you back to a different time in your life or might introduce you to a whole new style of langauge if you were not yet born at that time period.
Here's a selection of 1960s slang for you to get acquainted (or reacquainted!) with:
- A gas - having a fun time
- All show and no go - looks good superficially
- Ape - crazy or mad
- Bad - awesome
- Badass - trouble maker
- Bean wagon - cheap restaurant, or a lowered car driven by Mexican Americans
- Beat feet - leave quickly
- Bench racing - sitting around and talking about the speed of their cars
- Blast - a good time, a loud party
- Blitzed - drunk
- Bogart - to keep for yourself, to bully
- Bone yard - a place to put junk or wrecked cars
- Boob tube - television
- Boogie board - a short surfboard
- Bookin' - going fast in a car
- Boss - fantastic
- Brew - beer
- Brody - skid half a circle in a car with the brakes locked
- Bug - to bother
- Bug out - to leave
- Bummer - a bad thing or unpleasant experience
- Burn rubber - squeal tires and leave rubber on the road
- Catch some rays - get out in the sun
- Cherry - mint condition
- Chicken/To play chicken - two cars driving towards each other
- Chinese firedrill - when four people get out of a car at a right light and exchange places in the car
- Chop - to cut someone down verbally
- Chrome Dome - bald man
- Cool head - nice guy
- Crash - sleep
- Cut out - leave the area quickly
- Decked out - dressed up
- Deuce - putting two fingers up in a peace symbol
- Dibs - ownership
- Dig - understand
- Don't flip your wig - don't be upset
- Dove - a peace lover
- Downer - an unpleasant experience
- Drag - someone or something that is boring
- Dropout - refuse to conform with society
- Fab - fabulous
- Fab Four - The Beatles
- Far out - awesome
- Fink - tattletale
- Five finger discount - stolen
- Flake - useless person
- Flake off - leave
- Flip flops - thongs
- Flower power - the peaceful protest movement of the 60s counterculture
- Fox - good looking woman
- Freak out - get excited and lose control
- Freedom riders - civil rights protesters
- Gimme some skin - to ask someone to slap or shake your hand in agreement
- Gone - under the influence of drugs
- Gnarly - difficult or big
- Groovy - outstanding or nice
- Groady - dirty
- Grungy - looking shabby or dirty
- Hacked - made someone mad
- Hairy - difficult or out of control
- Hang loose - take it very easy
- Hang tough - to stick with something difficult
- Hawk - a supporter of war
- Heavy - a serious or intense subject
- Hippie/Hippy - a member of the counterculture: a free sprited, unconventional person
- Hog - to take over so that someone else cannot use
- Hot dog - show-off
- Hunk - good looking guy
- In the groove - a person who is part of the in-crowd
- Jam - play music together
- Jazzed - excited
- Jelly Roll - heroin
- Kicks - something done for pleasure
- Kiss off - dismiss
- Kiss up - someone who will do anything to gain favor by another person
- Knocked up - pregnant
- Laid back - relaxed
- Lay it on me - tell me
- Lay rubber - stop fast and leave wheel marks on the road
- Make out - kissing
- Midnight auto supply - stolen auto parts
- Mirror warmer - woman who spends a lot of time looking in the mirror
- Moon - to drop your pants
- Mop-top - someone with a Beatle-style haircut
- Neato - awesome
- Nifty - stylish or very good
- No sweat - No problem
- Old Lady - girlfriend/wife, somtimes mother
- Old Man - boyfriend/husband, sometimes father
- On the make - looking for a date
- Outta sight - awesome
- Pad - where you sleep or live
- Panty waist - a boy who does not have a tough personality
- Passion pit - drive-in movie
- Peel out - accelerate quickly, leaving rubber on the road
- Peggers - jeans with tight calfs and ankles
- Pig - police officer
- Pig out - overeat
- Port holer - a sailor on a ship
- Pound - to beat someone up
- Race for pinks - race cars when the winner keeps the loser's car
- Right on - OK, a term of agreement
- Rip off - steal
- Scarf - eat fast
- Score - go all the way with a girl
- Scratch - money
- Shades - sunglasses
- Shot down - rejected
- Shotgun - passenger seat
- Skag or Skank - an ugly girl
- Skirt - a girl
- Skuzz/Skuzz bucket- disgusting person or thing
- Slug bug - Volkswagon beetle
- Sock it to me - Let me have it
- Solid - I understand
- Souped up - lots of extra equipment
- Split - to leave
- Sponge - live off of someone else's money or belongings
- Square - someone who is not cool
- Stoked - likes someone or something a lot
- Stoned - high on pot
- Stuck up - conceited
- Sweat hog - fat girl or boy
- Tennies - tennis shoes
- The Man - any authority figure who maintained the corporate, legal and political status quo
- Threads - clothes
- Ticked off - angry
- Tight - very friendly
- Toke - a puff from a marijuana cigarette
- Tooling - driving around
- Tough - great looking
- Tuff - cool or very enjoyable
- Tune out - ignore
- Turn off - to respulse someone
- Truckin' - moving quickly
- Twice Pipes - two muffler tail pipes
- Twitchin' - great or awesome
- Unglued - upset
- Unreal - so outstanding that it was difficult to believe
- Uptight - tense and unable to enjoy life
- Way out - beyond explanation
- What's your bag, man? - what are you into? what's your problem?
- Wipe out - to fail in a big way or to fall off the surfboard
- Zilch - zero
- Zit - pimple
Do some of these slang words and expressions look familiar to you, even if you weren't around in the 1960s? Well, that's quite possible! Some of these expressions came back to life in later decades, and some of them really never faded from use at all. For example, many people today still use the word "zit" and the phrase "bugging out" and probably don't even know how long they've been around.
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"1960s Slang." YourDictionary, n.d. Web. 17 August 2018. <http://grammar.yourdictionary.com/slang/1960s-slang.html>.
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