March 7, 2010 9:00 PM   Subscribe

What slang words have gone out of date within the past 10 years or so?

I guess I'm looking for a semi-comprehensive list of slang that is now considered "lame" / hopelessly out-of-date, from the perspective of young people (say, college undergrad and younger). I'm not old by any means (late 20's) and yet I sometimes wonder whether words I'm using are secretly making people cringe and think "ridiculous old person."

Examples of slang I use sometimes that I'm curious about. Sometimes the words I throw around casually make me feel like I might either be 1) some washed-up, old, stoned surfer dude, or 2) someone younger than my age. I don't even know!

-chilling ("I was just chilling in Chicago this weekend.")
-cool ("no, it's cool, I have a lighter.")
-rock on
-for real / for sure / f'sho
-dang / daaaang
posted by naju to Society & Culture (82 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Having just listened to Jeff Bridges use it multiple times in his oscar acceptance speech: "man" (at the end of a sentence) seems very, very dated to me.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:01 PM on March 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

posted by bonobothegreat at 9:02 PM on March 7, 2010

As a woman your age I can't speak to the "old person" aspect of this, but to my ear, all but (limited use of) "cool" and "awesome" sound affected and too young for an adult to use.
posted by crabintheocean at 9:11 PM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Jesus. I use nearly all of those words on a nearly daily basis, and don't get mocked (for them, at any rate). I'm only 28 ffs, surely I'm not past my use by date!?

Other words (from Australian perspective):
being "down" with things
povvo (abbreviation of poverty)
grouse (meaning good)

"Random" seems to be what the kids are saying a lot these days, often in conjunction with things that don't really seem that random to me. Irritating.
posted by smoke at 9:13 PM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't have any out-of-date slang to add to the discussion, but I'm a sophomore in college and I still use/hear the words you've listed (dude, chillin', awesome, dang) pretty commonly in everyday speech. Rock on and fo sho are a little more rare though.

And bonobothegreat, I still use "sweet" on a regular basis.
posted by ardent at 9:13 PM on March 7, 2010

I agree with "man".

Also "rock on".

Your others are fine. In order to not be old, warp the pronunciations as far as you can, as if you were mocking the use of such words.
posted by colinshark at 9:16 PM on March 7, 2010

I think the things on your list are mostly OK, except for maybe "Rock on." But then, I'm in my late 20s as well, and hopelessly out of touch with the kids today.
posted by lexicakes at 9:17 PM on March 7, 2010

damn, dude. this particular college undergrad has used all of the words you listed in the past week.

of all of those, 'dude' and 'dang' are ones only i seem to use (more often dude 'cause it's funny, and daaang only sometimes just 'cause i really enjoy achewood), 'rock on' is generally only used ironically/just for lol's, and i hear awesome quite a lot. many kids i know (myself included) very often say 'cool' or 'that's cool' or 'that's chill' or 'chilling' - chillin' as in 'hanging out at my place with nothing to do', less often as 'hanging out in $city'.
posted by sarahj at 9:17 PM on March 7, 2010

I should add that I use "rock on" and "f'sho" strictly in an ironic way. But if you use something ironically enough it may eventually become non-ironic. This is a real danger.
posted by naju at 9:20 PM on March 7, 2010

posted by spilon at 9:21 PM on March 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

Also, radical & rad.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:22 PM on March 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

No one is ever too old for "cool."

I hope "sick" is pretty gone.
posted by sageleaf at 9:27 PM on March 7, 2010

posted by rhizome at 9:27 PM on March 7, 2010

I hope "sick" is pretty gone.

Oh, it's not. sick is not gone.
posted by sarahj at 9:30 PM on March 7, 2010

I'm 22, and I've heard every word you listed in the last week... except "dang." I thought that actually did sound dated, but I suspect it's just my own social circles.
posted by tantivy at 9:31 PM on March 7, 2010

Calling something 'jank.' Also, "the bomb."
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 9:32 PM on March 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

I am old as the hills here in my late 30s, but I know my elementary-aged kids say use dude, cool, and awesome. Not exactly the demographic you're asking about though, eh?
posted by bluedaisy at 9:34 PM on March 7, 2010

"suck it!"

That's a classic that I used to hear ALL the time.
posted by cheemee at 9:37 PM on March 7, 2010

Is "bite me" gone yet?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:39 PM on March 7, 2010

This thread is bogus.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:41 PM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

"hella," "wicked," and "negatory"
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 9:47 PM on March 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

This college sophomore has heard/uses all of the ones you listed regularly except "rock on." If I heard someone use that, I would associate it with an older stoner (possibly metalhead) hanging on to the 90s a little too hard- this dude + 20 years.
posted by MadamM at 9:54 PM on March 7, 2010

I use those words you listed all the time, and I hear the high school kids I work with use them too.

The outdated ones that immediately are ones that you can pretty much pull straight from the Clueless era: "totally," "rad," "dig [it]," "gag me with a spoon," "[she's a] babe," "as if," "whateverrrrrr" (sometimes with the accompanying "loserrrrrrr"), or "airhead." Some of those only lasted a year or so, but I remember quite a few stuck around through my junior high years in the late 90s.

I also haven't heard a non-ironic "duh" in ages. In the circles I run in it's mostly been replaced by a derisive snort plus an uber-sarcastic "well yeah." And the other day I used the word "skeevy" in my class and the high school juniors stopped me and went "wait, what?"

I just hope "WTF," "IDK," and "OMG" go away as quickly as some of these did...
posted by lilac girl at 9:54 PM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

This thread is bogus.

posted by MsMolly at 9:54 PM on March 7, 2010 [5 favorites]

Ugh, I meant "that immediately spring to mind."
posted by lilac girl at 9:55 PM on March 7, 2010

PS: People from Boston or its environs still use wicked, although maybe not as often anymore. "That test was wickahd hahd man"
posted by MadamM at 9:56 PM on March 7, 2010

And upon rereading the OP, I haven't heard "that's lame" in a long time. Now I hear/say "that sucks."
posted by lilac girl at 9:57 PM on March 7, 2010

Oh also! Words people my age use that older people might not have heard: sketch(y) and creep(y)/(er).
posted by MadamM at 9:58 PM on March 7, 2010

As a dictionary editor, I specialize in slang and new language.

As you can see by the comments here, trying to find slang that is outdated by ten years is fruitless. It's too short a span and what is "in" and what is "out" is too subjective and too dependent upon place, time, person, group, and so forth. Try looking it from a 30-50-year perspective and then you'd be on to something. Then stop worrying about it until somebody else tells you to lay off the lingo. You'll never really know slang is dead until you get burned for using it!
posted by Mo Nickels at 10:02 PM on March 7, 2010 [5 favorites]

Oh man, 'negatory' takes me back.

People definitely still say 'sick' and everything else on your list (I think 'rock on' might be nearing dangerous, non-ironic territory, but it's not there yet).

negatory, fo'shizzle, radical, tubular, bogus, so random, the bomb, sweetness (but not sweet), psych, chillax, sketch (but not sketchy), creeper (but not creepy) - all of these seem pretty out to me. Add in irony, though, and who the hell knows.

I still hear 'wicked' in Massachusetts, though. That and 'hella' are pretty regional. (I'm in the US and a 21 year old.)
posted by prettaygood at 10:03 PM on March 7, 2010


Heh don't use that.
posted by irishcoffee at 10:09 PM on March 7, 2010

-that's sick/sweet/hot (All still used, but not in every other sentence as was the case a few years ago.)
-it's all good
-wazzup, wassup, and sup. Personally I still like Zup.
-cray cray

"Dope" is on the rise. "Rock on" is used, but only disparagingly.
posted by acidic at 10:11 PM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

that's fresh.
posted by apostrophe at 10:13 PM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

acidic, I've heard each and every one of those used by teenagers in the last month.
posted by griphus at 10:17 PM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I remember people used to say "pshaw" all the time.
posted by Sara Anne at 10:25 PM on March 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

posted by infinitywaltz at 10:30 PM on March 7, 2010

The najuster! Asking questions! Najuster! The big Najusti! Najusirama!

(How about that?)
posted by bluedaisy at 10:50 PM on March 7, 2010 [4 favorites]

(for see you later)

I haven't heard that one in decades...
posted by thisperon at 11:07 PM on March 7, 2010

As you can see by the comments here, trying to find slang that is outdated by ten years is fruitless.

That wasn't the question.

For instance, "bling" is pretty much out. As a litmus test, if you hear commercial, top 40, fm radio DJs using the term then it's out.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:29 PM on March 7, 2010

posted by 23skidoo at 12:13 AM on March 8, 2010

"Rock on" reminds me of the even more stonerish "keep on keeping on", both of which are pretty dated. "What's crackalackin" sort of happened for a minute but would make most people cringe really hard now, even used with like level 12 irony.

But I like that fly, whack and dope have found a post-fresh-prince resurgence even if it is mostly ironic pothead and/or hipster usage.

grechen, stop trying to make "fetch" happen!
posted by Juicy Avenger at 12:26 AM on March 8, 2010

How YOU doin'?
posted by CarlRossi at 12:35 AM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Chillax! and MacGyver, as in "I totally had to MacGyver the ___ to make it work".
posted by 6:1 at 12:57 AM on March 8, 2010

Oh, and "fucktard".
posted by 6:1 at 12:58 AM on March 8, 2010

totally misread, (going to sleep now, I promise).
posted by 6:1 at 12:58 AM on March 8, 2010

"Bad" when used to actually mean good.
posted by platinum at 1:00 AM on March 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

There's a big difference between words that have gone out of use and words that have gone out of date/style. Especially now that there's a social trend towards irony and expression that plays with authenticity. Many words that are perceived to by stylistically dated are brought back into use non-seriously (ie, ironically) or pseudo-seriously (mock seriously). Phrases too. Just sayin'...
posted by iamkimiam at 1:24 AM on March 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

I haven't heard "lame" lately, but I am disturbed by the new trend of words like "geotarded" (to mean say, an App or phone that isn't geographically-aware).

I also don't hear someone say something and then add "NOT!" at the end. Also not recalling "phat" recently.

Also, I think it's supposed to be "psych," not "sike." As in, psyching someone out.

Recently I was surprised to hear what I thought was "threepeat" in Britney Spears' song "3," although the online lyrics databases seem to say it's "getting down with 3P." But sometimes those have an error and spread across all the lyrics sites anyways. 3P doesn't seem to make sense in the context of the song (unless I am incredibly naive, which is possible)... it comes right after the Peter Paul & Mary reference and there's not 3 Ps there, just 2.
posted by IndigoRain at 2:34 AM on March 8, 2010


"That was mad cool."
"I'm mad tired.
"Anyone else mad hungry?"

I know people who still say these things but it's always ironic.
posted by laptolain at 2:39 AM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Fuckin' A! I don't know when it was most popular, but I hope it's mostly fallen out of usage. It was bogue.
posted by heyho at 3:33 AM on March 8, 2010

"Bootleg", which was synonymous with "crap" or "bullshit."

"No, Jimmy, I told the class very clearly that the assignment is due today, not tomorrow."
"Man, that's bootleg."
posted by coppermoss at 5:31 AM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

It seems like a timely place to alert people to a book chock full of outdated slang: Straight From the Fridge, Dad including such outdated gems as:

- Alabama lie detector: Police baton ahem
- Anything you stick up, he’ll wipe it right off: He’s a natural-born jazz blower, he can play the phonebook and swing it like a gate
- Back door man: Lover, someone who sneaks in through the back door when the husband is away
- Gassing your moss: Getting your hair straightened
- Gimp: Lame, someone who walks with a limp
- Go fry a hush-puppy: Get lost, vamoose
posted by MuffinMan at 5:39 AM on March 8, 2010

I remember people used to say "pshaw" all the time.

I remember it coming from people at least in their fifties during the Sixties.

I'll add the Internet use of kewl/kewel.
posted by jgirl at 5:39 AM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Mad props to the poster for a great question!!!
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:41 AM on March 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think "sike" and "dang" are so old they are on the verge of a comeback. Most of the slang I am seeing above is pretty recent for this 36 year old.

Some slang I was always partial to that aren't used much anymore:

That girl is fly!
This record is dope!
Those shoes are fresh!
That car is ill!
Let's go hang at my crib.
That dude is a Mack!
What's up homeslice / homeskillet?

It seems to take about 15 years for a slang word to come out of an obscure rap song and make it into the mainstream. 'Crib' has been used for a least 25 years. I just heard some middle age white lady say she was 'rockin' a sweater. I first heard 'rockin' in a Wu-Tang song back in 93. "Yo rockin' the gold tooth"

But to really answer your question, maybe check out some slang from the 1920's. This stuff needs to make a comeback. "It's the berries!"
posted by jasondigitized at 5:44 AM on March 8, 2010

At my high school (South Australian, early 90s), 'rad' had a synonym: 'exey', as in "Man, that Torana looks totally exey with those fat Splats (a kind of mag wheel)!"
posted by MarchHare at 5:52 AM on March 8, 2010

posted by kosmonaut at 6:08 AM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Anything from pop-culture: 'wazzzzzzzzup', 'schwing' and anything else that probably was no longer on TV/cinema after teens were born. 'Simples' is the current equivalent in the UK.

I've heard Americans say 'where's the beef' a lot which I think is from an advert - is this now out of date?

Seconding kewl. 'Chatting shit' as well.
posted by mippy at 6:26 AM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Using those words make you sound like who you are. You want to express yourself, right? Say whatever seems natural. At 30, I still use most of the phrases you list every single day. The only thing I'm trying to retire (or use less frequently) is 'awesome' because it is overused and seems to be a pet peeve for a lot of non-native english speakers. But not because I think it is out of date.

Stopping yourself from saying your personal collection of slang words will, in my opinion, come across as affected and do more to make you look 'lame' and hopelessly outdated, because it will be clear that you are trying to modify the way you speak in order to impress / fit-in with the people around. And it's that kind of pandering, and use of non-natural language that makes young people cringe and think "ridiculous old person". So long as you don't think saying slang words makes you "connect" with teenagers, you are fine.
posted by molecicco at 7:42 AM on March 8, 2010

Great answers!


I refuse to say this one, but isn't it used quite often by the XBox-loving youth these days?
posted by naju at 8:04 AM on March 8, 2010

I haven't heard "deck" in a few years, though that one was never all that big to begin with.
posted by TrialByMedia at 8:06 AM on March 8, 2010

All of the names of the levels in Special World of Super Mario for SNES (except for "awesome" which I think How I Met Your Mother may have singlehandedly saved).
posted by pised at 8:10 AM on March 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm very happy that fewer kids are refferring to things that suck as "gay" these days.

Example from the past:

My mom punished me for the whole weekend, it's so gay.
posted by WeekendJen at 8:15 AM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Linguists here please correct me if I'm off-base, but most of these words and phrases seem not so much out-of-date or out-of-style as common catchphrases or placeholders, in the same category as "um" or "like." Slang is not really slang any longer when it passes into that category -- i.e., so commonly used by people of many age and cultural groupings as to be no longer "subcultural" or "underground" (which, unless I'm wrong, is a chief attribute of slang). The ones that are really, really not so much used anymore -- the ones from the list that leap most readily to mind are sort of the more "Wayne's World"-y phrases -- never passed into the status of "so common as to be cultural currency." They were more fads than slang anyway, and in most cases, deserved to die a quick death.
posted by blucevalo at 8:23 AM on March 8, 2010

Unfortunately, I haven't perceived any decrease in the use of "that's so gay." I hear it around quite a lot, and not just from kids.
posted by blucevalo at 8:24 AM on March 8, 2010

I think a good rule of thumb is to avoid words that are overused in a movie. Those words, like bogus, whatever, gnarly, radical, etc, are usually said by someone who is trying to sound cool, and usually comes off as hollow.

Most of the time, whether or not a word you use works depends entirely on how "well" you say it, or how honest it is in expressing your emotion. If you're not thinking about whether or not "chilling" is the right word, and instead are just picturing yourself chilling as you describe your weekend, chances are it will sound just right.
posted by anotherfluke at 8:26 AM on March 8, 2010

For what it's worth, "gag me with a spoon" goes a little further back than Clueless.

Bag your face. I'm sure.
posted by jdfan at 8:30 AM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Da bomb."

"Boss," to say something's cool or appreciable. "That's so boss!"

I don't hear people say "fresh" to describe things any more unless it's in an ironic way.

"Phat" and "dope" are kind of the same way, though occasionally I hear people say dope.

"Fly" is definitely outmoded. I also don't hear "killer" as much as I was four or five years ago, but I live in the midwest so YMMV for all of these.
posted by Demogorgon at 8:41 AM on March 8, 2010

I remember people used to say "pshaw" all the time.

I still say "pshaw" but I don't care about trends.

I also say "rad" or "radical" and some others that aren't "cool." What can I say? I'm a product of the 80's. "Ohmygod! Like, I'm totally fershure!" Oh, and I still say "totally." No one blinks an eye 'cause it's a normal part of my speech.

My kids are in their early twenties so I've gotten a good dose of what's still "in" for the past decade -- at least in the Southern East Coast. Most of the words on the OP's original list are still used except "right-on" and "for-real."

The other day when exasperated I said "Jeez Louise!" and, I kid you not, the young man
I was speaking to said "Who's Louise?" I guess no one says, "Jeez Louise" anymore.
posted by patheral at 8:46 AM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I refuse to say this one, but isn't it used quite often by the XBox-loving youth these days?

I have no access to XLY to ask them, but I know I used to hear people actually say aloud pwned and rofl, but now I hear them, like, never.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:58 AM on March 8, 2010

"Dude" is like "cool." I don't think it will ever go out of style, especially since it's so versatile.
posted by Ike_Arumba at 9:46 AM on March 8, 2010

Bitchin' or bitching- though this might be just over 10 years and was never really ingrained in culture, IMO.
posted by questionsandanchors at 10:04 AM on March 8, 2010

Interestingly, a co-worker mentioned the other day that she's heard her kids (teenagers in the Bronx) use the word "delayed" (as in, "developmentally delayed") as a replacement for "retarded" -- the use of the word retarded seems to have begun phasing out, but the underlying message remains the same, and has caught a new "clinical" word to express it.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:22 AM on March 8, 2010

I have a feeling that "FAIL" has already reached its expiration date. But that feeling might just be hope.
posted by Beardman at 10:31 AM on March 8, 2010

How about "boogie" as in "Let's boogie"? I haven't heard that in a while.
posted by pjern at 11:09 AM on March 8, 2010

I usually make it my goal to use just slightly outmoded slang. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. I love it when you hear a response like "huh, you don't get a lot of 'righteous' these days." Then I act all hurt, but smile inside as I know that my plan is succeeding.

I have no idea where this plan is headed or what I intend to gain by it. I just feel like I probably ought continue with it.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 11:11 AM on March 8, 2010

I would imagine that 'gag me with a spoon' is as old as spoons and mouths. Same for stabbing with forks and slicing with knives.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:17 AM on March 8, 2010

I keep coming up with examples, but then thinking of situations in which they'd be acceptable. Except "bro," which is more of a social identifier of a class I'd rather not associate with rather than out of style, and it's hard to use ironically rather than simply mockingly.

I hate to use the popular misuse of "postmodern," but it applies here. There's not much that's just plain out of style here. The extent of "irony" and appropriation of style from bygone eras leaves stuff like this pretty wide open.

Let it be known, however, that I live in the hipster capital of the world as near as I can tell, where no one bats an eye at handlebar moustaches, those slotted sunglasses, or longboards in a place without any hills.
posted by cmoj at 11:22 AM on March 8, 2010

Also, radical & rad.

No way! Rad's had a serious revival in the last couple of years. I use it all the time.

Never hear people say radical, although I think it would have the same effect.
posted by Afroblanco at 3:06 PM on March 8, 2010

"Dude" abides.
posted by mendel at 5:26 PM on March 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

'Tits'. As in "This show is tits" or "This show is the tits".
posted by Green With You at 8:43 PM on March 8, 2010

How about "boogie" as in "Let's boogie"? I haven't heard that in a while.

It was big news in Australia recently. Drunk policewoman. "I'm here to fucking boogie!"
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:30 PM on March 8, 2010

« Older What episode of Magnum P.I. was this   |   She's picked Bachelor No. 2, folks! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.