Expressions give insight into cultures and generations. Linguistic anthropology does not need to be your topic of interest to take a gander at these expressions that span as far back as 77AD. As we all approach 2014, we may want to reflect on some of the latest phrases and expressions that might seep into the American language forever. Before you cast your vote on what the Digital Natives and Generation-Zers have to offer us, take a look at these lyrical terms and phrases.
Currently Used, Hopefully Rejected
- Saying #hashtag!
- YOLO (you only live once)
- Just follow me on twitter
- Hit me back
- Yeah I know her, I facebook know her
- Untag me from that!
- I’m going with my BFF
- It’s what’s trending
- Cra-cra (crazy)
- Sup (What’s up?)
- Hating on..
Classic Expressions and Phrases, Do you use any of these?
1. Bigger bank for your buck – 1953, a lyrical way to explain more for your money.
Interesting that this expression was spawned out an attempt to adapt the 1950s Pepsi-Cola slogan, ‘more bounce to the ounce.’ The Eisenhower crew used the original saying ‘bigger bank for your buck,’ in political rhetoric at the time. When it began being used for prostitution it was changed to ‘more bang for your buck.’ I do not need to explain why I am sure. Despite this raunchy usage, I like the expression a lot and have no problem using it to describe nuclear fire power or female fire power.
2. Be afraid, be very afraid ,1986 – a warning emphasizing the severity of a situation.
This phrase is too mellow-dramatic for me. Although it was delivered well in the film, The Fly with Jeff Goldblum, everyone that I know who has used it is a straight-up drama-queen.
3. Cast the first stone, 1535 – the first to attack.
Clearly from biblical times and no surprise that it was first said almost 500 years ago. Not a favorite of mine, but I can remember my grammar school teachers using it when I was in trouble.
4. Cat out of the bag, 1760- to reveal a secret.
Okay, I will admit I have used this expression myself. And, so have my grandparents, and parents and anyone I have called old in my life. Oh know, does this mean I am old, since I have asked told my kids this same thing?
5. Call a spade a spade, 1647 – to speak the blunt truth.
This is a favorite of mine because it leads me to another phrase; because when you call a spade a spade you are ‘simply keeping it real.’
6. Chick flick, 1990 – films that have stories and characters that cater to women, therefore not appealing to men.
I am indifferent to this phrase, I do not personally use it. Most of the time it is used by others I disagree with its context , like the movies Bridemaids, Jerry MaGuire, Breakfast Club, Working Girl and Dirty Dancing were all chick flicks.
7. Back in the day, 1980 – when I was younger, reflecting upon a nostalgic moment or the way something was once done a long time ago.
Hip-hop and rap culture popularized this phrase and it has stuck to every generation still living today. I have heard 70 year olds use it and just yesterday my 6 year told me, “back in the day when I was 2 I did that, but not anymore mom.” SERIOUSLY KID? Personally, I think it is an expression that is over used and I do my best to never use it, especially after yesterday! It seems preposterous than anyone under 35 should ever use the term at all.
8. Drawing a blank , 1824- when you can not remember something that you should.
Apparently it was used for many centuries in Tudor England before it was put in print in Washington Irving’s Tales of a Traveller. I use it all the time and would be honored to help keep it alive for future generations.
9. Time to face the music, 1834 – accept the consequences of your actions.
This is another one that brings back no good memories for me. Hopefully this statement won’t ‘ bite me in the ass,’ but I swear I will never say this to my kids. I will be far more straight forward and tell them things like, ‘you made your bed, now its time to sleep it in!.”
10. Fifteen minutes of fame, 1968 – every person will have their time to become famous and gain the attention/notoriety of the media or the world for a short period of time.
This Andy Warhol expression has continued to be vibrant in the dialog of all generations. With reality TV being the focus of prime time and cable programming for about 10 years, more people have achieved their 15 minutes of fame, because of their raunchy and honestly stupid behavior. The Gen-Xers made the expression find its place in American slang famous, but the Gen-Z/Digital Native reality stars have kept it going.
11. Hanky Panky, 1939 – when you are engaging in sexual acts, generally those that lead to intercourse.
I will not admit to using this particular phrase myself, but I get a kick out of hearing it. I vote for it to stick around. It is not offensive in any way, and when I hear it, it makes me want to engage in hanky panky.
12. In a Nutshell, 77AD– concisely said or in a few words.
I will be honest; I rarely use this expression, because I am not good at saying anything in a few words. Ask my family, I try to eve use, ‘long story short,’ but my story is still never short. I am fascinated with this expression in that is was actually translated from historical texts starting in 1601 and then caught on in 1841 in the book The Second Funeral of Napoleon.
13. Dude, 1960-70 – referring to any individual, usually male.
This classic American slang is actually much older than the Generation X. But its popularity clearly stems from films like Easy Rider and reinforced by Less Than Zero and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. All of these are classic films. The use is wide spread even in my kindergartener, because of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I do not think the word will become obsolete.
14. Whatever, 1965 – instead of saying whatever you say or it is used to express that you do not care what someone has to say at all.
Although I am guilty of using this word, I try to be humorous in its delivery. It is actually a fairly impolite way of answering someone. Although my generation used it to death, the valley girls took it over and found a way to add even more defiance to its delivery. I think it will continue to live on since I found it on a list of most used words in 2013.
15. Off the hook, 1990s –avoiding a difficult situation or when something is great or something cool is happening / has happened.
The expression has evolved into ‘off the chain, off the heezy, off the fa-sheezy’ and so many more. It was first used for fishing in the 1800s and had a literal meaning. As rap popularized, the expression became part of the common rap lingo. The expression can actually be found in the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. I have tried to use this expression a couple of times, but it just doesn’t work for me. In fact, if I used it in its original 1800 context it would work better – after all I do fish.