1960s Slang

If it's boss, hip, or happening, you're bound to be listening to some of the slang from the 1960s that still resounds in today's language. As you read this list of 1960s slang, you might be surprised to find out how much of it has lasted through the decades.

Girl dressed as a 1960s hippie as 1960s slang Girl dressed as a 1960s hippie as 1960s slang
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Hey, Man! That's Boss!

Back in this turbulent decade, you might expand upon the word "cool" with a word like "boss." That means something is really, really cool.

Among the 1960s hipster contingent, their lingo included phrases 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."

List of 1960s Slang Definitions

Learning about slang from different eras can transport you to a different time in your life or introduce you to a whole new style of language. Here's a selection of 1960s slang for you to get acquainted (or reacquainted!) with.

Slang for Cars

Fast cars and fast lives. The '60s were an era of rebellion so, to no surprise, that means some exciting car lingo. Let's take a look:

  • Bench racing: Sitting around and talking about the speed of their cars
  • Bone yard: A place to put junk or wrecked cars
  • Bookin': Going fast in a car
  • Brody: Skid half a circle in a car with the brakes locked
  • Burn rubber: Squeal tires and leave rubber on the road
  • Chicken/To play chicken: Two cars driving towards each other
  • Chinese fire drill: When four people get out of a car at a red light and exchange places in the car
  • Lay rubber: Stop fast and leave wheel marks on the road
  • Midnight auto supply: Stolen auto parts
  • Passion pit: Drive-in movie
  • Peel out: Accelerate quickly, leaving rubber on the road
  • Race for pinks: Race cars when the winner keeps the loser's car
  • Shotgun: Passenger seat
  • Slug bug: Volkswagen Beetle
  • Souped up: Lots of extra parts on a car (usually to make it faster)
  • Tooling: Driving around
  • Truckin': Moving quickly
  • Twice pipes: Two-muffler tail pipes
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Slang for Experiences

Just like today, life in the '60s was full of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Here are some of the most popular expressions used to provide commentary on various experiences:

  • A gas: Having a fun time
  • Bad: Awesome
  • Beat feet: Leave quickly
  • Blast: A good time, a loud party
  • Boss: Fantastic
  • Bug out: To leave
  • Bummer: An unpleasant experience
  • Catch some rays: Get out in the sun
  • Cut out: Leave the area quickly
  • Downer: An unpleasant experience (or person)
  • Drag: Something that's boring (or someone)
  • Fab: Fabulous
  • Far out: Awesome
  • Flake off: Leave
  • Flower power: The peaceful protest movement of the '60s counterculture
  • Freak out: Get excited and lose control
  • Gimme some skin: To ask someone to slap or shake your hand in agreement
  • Hairy: Difficult or out of control
  • Hang loose: Take it very easy
  • Hang tough: To stick with something difficult
  • Heavy: A serious or intense subject
  • Jam: Play music together
  • Jazzed: Excited
  • Kicks: Something done for pleasure
  • Laid back: Relaxed
  • Neato: Awesome
  • No sweat: No problem
  • On the make: Looking for a date
  • Outta sight: Awesome
  • Pig out: Overeat
  • Pound: To beat someone up
  • Right on: Okay; a term of agreement
  • Scarf: Eat fast
  • Shot down: Rejected
  • Sock it to me: Let me have it
  • Solid: I understand
  • Split: To leave
  • Stoked: Likes someone or something a lot
  • Tough/tuff: Cool; awesome
  • Tune out: Ignore
  • Twitchin': Great or awesome
  • Unreal: So outstanding it's difficult to believe
  • Way out: Beyond explanation
  • Wipe out: To fail in a big way or to fall off the surfboard
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Slang for People

If there's one thing people have in common, it's opinions about others. Here are some of the more unique ways "hunks" and "skirts" talked about other people during this time:

  • All show and no go: Looks good superficially
  • Badass: Trouble maker
  • Blitzed: Drunk
  • Bogart: To keep everything for yourself
  • Bug: To bother
  • Chop: To cut someone down verbally
  • Chrome dome: Bald man
  • Cool head: Nice guy
  • Crash: Sleep
  • Decked out: Dressed up
  • Deuce: Putting two fingers up in a peace symbol
  • Dig it: Understand it
  • Don't flip your wig: Don't be upset
  • Dove: A peace lover
  • Dropout: Refuse to conform with society
  • Fab Four: The Beatles
  • Fink: Tattletale
  • Flake: Useless person
  • Fox: Good looking woman
  • Freedom riders: Civil rights protesters
  • Gone: Under the influence of drugs
  • Gnarly: Difficult or big
  • Hacked: Made someone mad
  • Hawk: A supporter of war
  • Hippie/Hippy: A member of the counterculture: a free-spirited, unconventional person
  • Hog: To take over so that someone else cannot use
  • Hunk: Good looking guy
  • In the groove: A person who is part of the in-crowd
  • Kiss off: Dismiss
  • Kiss up: Someone who will do anything to gain favor by another person
  • Lay it on me: Tell me
  • Mirror warmer: Woman who spends a lot of time looking in the mirror
  • Mop-top: Someone with a Beatle-style haircut
  • Old lady: Girlfriend/wife
  • Old man: Boyfriend/husband, sometimes father
  • Panty waist: A boy who does not have a tough personality
  • Pig: Police officer
  • Port holer: A sailor on a ship
  • Skag/skank: An ugly girl
  • Skirt: A girl
  • Skuzz/skuzz bucket: Disgusting person or thing
  • Square: Someone who isn't cool
  • Stuck up: Conceited
  • Sweat hog: Fat girl or boy
  • That's her bag: That's what she's into.
  • The Man: Any establishment authority figure interested in maintaining the status quo of corporate and political
  • Ticked off: Angry
  • Tight: Very friendly
  • Turn off: To repulse someone
  • Unglued: Upset
  • Uptight: Tense and unable to enjoy life
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Slang for Places

The people of the '60s were full of opinions about their surroundings too. Here are some of the ways they referred to "groovy" spots around town:

  • Bean wagon: Cheap restaurant, or a lowered car driven by Mexican Americans
  • Grungy: Looking shabby or dirty
  • Groovy: Outstanding or nice
  • Pad: Where you sleep or live, your home
  • Sponge: Live off of someone else

Slang for Things

People, places, and things. Below, you'll find some unique terminology to describe things, from boob tubes to peggers.

  • Boob tube: Television
  • Boogie board: A short surfboard
  • Brew: Beer
  • Cherry: Mint condition
  • Five finger discount: Stolen
  • Flip flops: Sandals
  • Groady: Dirty
  • Peggers: Jeans with tight calves and ankles
  • Scratch: Money
  • Shades: Sunglasses
  • Tennies: Tennis shoes
  • Threads: Clothes
  • Zilch: Zero
  • Zit: Pimple

Hip to the Hippies

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.

For more on that, enjoy this overview of American Slang Words.