Can You Match the Slang to the Correct Decade?

HISTORY

John MIller

5 Min Quiz

Image: Emilija Manevska/ Moment/gettyimages

About This Quiz

The English language is a changeable mishmash of letters and words that shift in meaning over time. Slang terms, in particular, are a dynamic aspect of daily life, as young people infuse old words with new innuendo or invent entirely new words and phrases that leave gray hairs scratching their heads in confusion. In this gnarly quiz, do you think you can match the following slang terms to the decade in which they were most common?

You probably know that “fly” is a fairly recent term, one that refers to the extreme coolness of something or someone. This one was hugely popular in the 1980s, particularly within the hip hop community. In the 1990s, “get jiggy” meant that you were flirting or dancing with someone, and “my bad” meant that you made a mistake.

But what if we dig deeper into the depths of the 20th century? Would you still “dig it” if we try to “catch you on the flip side” like people did in the Seventies? Or would your mind revert too far back, to maybe the 1920s, when people still said things like “bee’s knees”?

“23 skidoo, hippie!” Take our tough quiz now and match these slang terms to the correct decade!

In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "cat's pajamas"?

In the 1920s, if something was totally amazing, it was the "cat's pajamas." These days, it means you're probably literally putting pajamas on your ultra-spoiled feline.

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "cool"?

It's the slang word to end all slang words: "cool." And this iconic word first gathered steam during the strange days of the 1940s.

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "groovy"?

"Dude, that Dead show last night was, like, so groovy." "Groovy," of course, is a term from the counterculture of the Sixties.

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "gams"?

"Take a look at the gams on that flapper!" "Gams" was a slang term for "legs" that made the rounds in the '20s.

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "hippie"?

During protests and concerts of the Sixties, they were the long-haired, unshowered, unshaven masses. They were the hippies.

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In which decade was in common to hear the slang term "workaholic"?

Excessive work hours are nothing new in America. And the term "workaholic" has been around since at least the 1970s.

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "The Man"?

Many hippies had no use for standard suburban 8-to-5 lifestyles. They revolted against "The Man" by spending their days retreating from society (and often, reality).

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "the real McCoy"?

Something that's "the real McCoy" is real and authentic. It can refer to a product or to a sincere person.

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "pump iron"?

In the 1970s, men and women set up weight benches on beaches and pumped iron in full view of bystanders. Because pumping iron was life itself.

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "blockbuster"?

Now a nearly defunct video rental store, blockbuster first sprang to life during the 1940s. It meant that something was a great success.

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "daddy-o"?

"That's pretty cool, daddy-o! Are you also going to the poetry readings right before The Doors show?" "Daddy-o" was a Sixties term for hipster.

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "speakeasy"?

As Prohibition descended on America, bar owners created "speakeasies," where they sold alcohol in an illegal manner. Other bars stayed aboveboard by charging for an attraction instead of the alcohol itself.

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "mind-blowing"?

On the heels of the Sixties, people were still having plenty of LSD flashbacks. And in the '70s, those flashbacks were "mind-blowing," or incredible.

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "I'll be a monkey's uncle"?

If something seems unbelieveable, you might exclaim, "I'll be a monkey's uncle." But please do it only when you take your time machine back to the 1930s.

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "keeping up with the Joneses"?

After WWII, families were much wealthier than ever before, pursuing their dreams of homes with white picket fences. Everyone competed during the 1940s rat race of "keeping up with the Joneses."

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "hotsy totsy"?

Is that thing just absolutely perfect? In the 1920s, that meant it was "hotsy totsy."

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "bodacious"?

Clearly, only the '80s were dumb enough to create drool-inducing slang like "bodacious." And yes, it was the '80s, and bodacious meant something like "cool."

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "gag me with a spoon"?

You can always see '80s slang coming from a mile away. "Gag me with a spoon" meant something was gross.

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "sitting in the hot seat"?

"Sitting in the hot seat" means you're in danger of some sort, or perhaps you'll be fired soon. It has origins in the 1940s.

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "juke joint"?

If you needed a cheap drink and a sweaty night of dancing in the South in the 1930s, you'd head to the "juke joint." It's where the boozy fun took place.

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "dweeb"?

Whether they were "dorks" or "dweebs," it didn't really matter. You just didn't want that term directed at you in the '80s.

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "wicked"?

It's one of the holdovers from the 1980s. "Wicked" means something is really amazing.

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "hi-fi"?

If ever there was a Fifties term, it was "hi-fi." It refers to a high-fidelity turntable that played vinyl records.

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "diss"?

"Yo dawg, did you just diss me?" In '90s parlance, to "diss" someone was to disrespect them.

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "skivvies"?

Sure you can go outside in nothing but your skivvies, but the neighbors might call the cops. "Skivvies" is '30s slang for men's underwear.

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "phat"?

No, it has nothing to do with your friend's low-carb diet. In the '90s, if something was "phat," it was completely awesome or hot.

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "newbie"?

In slang years, "newbie" is very much a newbie. This 2000s-era term means someone is a novice at something.

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "hipster"?

Popular once again, "hipster" was actually first used in the 1950s. And it was directed at the same types of people that it labels today.

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "girl Friday"?

In the 1930s, it was common to call a female secretary or helper, "girl Friday." Cary Grant starred in a 1940 film titled, "His Girl Friday."

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In which decade was it common to hear the slang term "boo-boo"?

Did you make a mistake … or cut yourself? You made a "boo-boo," particularly back in the 1950s.

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