Can You Translate These Common Phrases From the ’60s?


By: Tasha Moore

6 Min Quiz

Image: Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd / DigitalVision / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Who doesn't love the '60s? We've gathered some common phrases from the era so that you can correctly translate their meanings. The trick with '60s terminology is to never take the saying literally. Think of the most "far out" meaning for the simplest of terms. And "far out" didn't mean in the '60s what it means today, just so you know. 

We dive deep into the hippie generation to redefine these word pearls for your "outta sight" edification. And these phrases come loaded with interesting facts that were just as obscure in the '60s as they are today. Lucky for you we do not limit '60s word-o-logy to just the United States. Across the pond in England, a lot was going on during the "groovy" era, namely the Beatles. Teens went wild grooving to songs by the band, so much so that this phenomenon of frenzy was aptly dubbed "Beatlemania."

The flower era was also a time of great social and political change. The fashion industry was turned upside down with bell bottoms, paisleys and tie-dyed everything. Hairstyles in the era made both fashion and political statements. The music, the fashion, the hip phrases all made for exciting times!

Consider this quiz your 1960s time capsule. Enjoy all the cultural goodies we've packed for your quiz journey! Can you dig it?

Watch the "boob tube" and you're watching what?

The original "Batman" television show, starring Adam West as the Caped Crusader, ran from 1966 to 1968. Auto genius George Barris from Los Angeles converted a 1955 Lincoln Futura into the show's 19-foot-long batmobile, which sold at auction for $4.2 million.


The "flower power" movement of the 1960s was a protest for ________?

During the mid- to late-1960s, TV, music and retail companies took advantage of the "flower power" hype, marketing their wares to young consumers. Marketing gurus peddled a folksy, tambourine-heavy "flower power" sound that's recognizable in retro songs and commercials to this day.


Your "water works" refer to which bodily structure?

Experimenting with mind-altering pills was a favorite pastime for many hippies in the '60s. However, even basic medications for simple health issues, like urinary tract infections, can wreak havoc in the fragile older bodies of former hippies. Fun fact: Water works can also refer to tears, as in crying,


"Can you dig it?" If you can, then what are you doing?

An expected response to the '60s phrase, "Can you dig it?" was "Yes, I can!" These days, a typical response to the phrase might be "Oh Yeah!" thanks to the '90s-era song "Can You Dig It?" by indie rock band, The Mock Turtles.


"Hot dogs" of the '60s couldn't get enough of what?

During the '60s, an influx of American women flooded the nation's workforce, which caused increased demand for fast foods like hot dogs. The quick-to-eat meal can be eaten with assorted gaudy dressings and condiments, which alludes to a connotation of pretentiousness with regards to "hot dogging."


Smooches and movies happened at the "pucker palace," a '60s phrase for a ________?

Drive-in cinema achieved peak popularity in the '50s and '60s. The concept, however, was born in the 1930s. Inventor Richard M. Hollingshead posted a white sheet in between two trees. He perched a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car facing the sheet and a radio behind the sheet for sound.


If your party is "a gas," what are you experiencing?

Hipster parties of the '60s were synonymous with "groovy tunes," lots of booze and recreational drug use. In particular, marijuana went from a small-time thrill to a product of mass consumption, especially among suburban youth.


In the '60s, cars that would "peel out" ________ up?

U.S. autoworker strikes happened frequently in the 1960s, chilling the era's car-culture craze. In July 1960, workers at a Ford plant in Cleveland, Ohio, protested safety conditions and production standards for three weeks, halting the introduction of the 1961 Ford Falcon.


The translation for "beach bunny" is _________.

"Beach boy" references the males of this ilk, as well as the '60s rock band from Hawthorne, California, who made songs like "California Girls" and "Good Vibrations." Today, the term "beach boy" has taken on a negative connotation, as it is often associated with sex workers who roam vacation spots.


Do this and you would hear "outta sight" in the 1960s?

"Outta sight" is a hip, urban version of the formal "out of sight" phrase. The more formal phrase is the title of the 1966 comedy thriller about secret agent John Stamp and his trusty butler, Homer, who ends up taking on Stamp's daring exploits.


You weren't being asked to donate skin when someone demanded, "Gimmie some skin!" What were you expected to do instead?

Thanks to the "boogie-woogie" Andrews Sisters' similarly titled song, the phrase "Gimme Some Skin" was introduced into American mainstream culture some years before the 1960s. However, the phrase was not used regularly until the '60s.


All those who "laid back" did what?

"Laid back" was a hipster goal in the 1960s. Mainstream folks typically perceived so-called hippies who "laid back" as lazy and non-industrious. The phrase has strong conceptual ties to recreational drug use and the beach lifestyle.


Attractive people of the '60s era, until today, are "stuck up" if they are ________.

Arguably, the '60s were the most stylish era to date. In particular, hippie culture fostered modish classics, such as bell-bottom pants, tie-dye and paisley prints, all styles that reappear from time to time on fashion runways.


"Far out" was one of several '60s terms used to describe anything that was ________.

American stuntman Robert Craig Knievel, better known as Evel Knievel, awed onlookers throughout his career. He debuted Evel Knievel's Motorcycle Daredevils in 1965. A few years later, in 1968, the "far out" daredevil cleared the fountains at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas with his motorcycle.


How would you translate the following phrase from the 1960s? "Cut and carried"

The 1960s era was a time of great change, especially for the traditional American family. The "free love" generation chose to marry later than its predecessors. What demographers call the "age at marriage" increased among young adults during the '60s and steadily rose throughout the '90s.


Eccentrics who "played chicken" back in the day did this with their cars?

"Playing chicken" involved driving toward another car head on, sometimes at high speeds. The object of the "game" is to compare your level of bravado to that of your opponent. Whoever pulls off first, is the fearful loser, or "chicken."


Today, you are considered "unreliable" if ever you "flake off," but in the '60s what did this common phrase mean?

Speaking of "flaky," in 1963 Michigan Senator Philip Hart publicly expressed disdain for an eight-inch pastry that only contained 40 cherries. At the time, Hart sponsored the "truth in packaging" bill and insisted that the frozen cherry pies should contain a standard number of cherries.


Someone who exclaimed "By gum!" in the '60s was calling for whom?

Doublemint twins Joan and Jane Boyd of Wrigley's chewing gum fame retired from appearing in the company's television commercials in 1964. The sisters were the first twins to appear in the successful ad campaign.


"What's your bag, man?" What does this phrase mean, "man"?

Hippies of the '60s are perceived as having had little-to-no issues or problems, as the group was analogous to themes of love, peace and happiness. But this notion could not have been further from the truth for many insiders. Some hippie communes were quite chaotic and plagued with conflict.


Step out of a '60s time machine and do this when someone of the era asks, "Lay it on me."

Right before the '60s kicked off, the "lei" state of Hawaii was admitted to the Union on August 21, 1959. Mainland American hipsters, who so-craved the "laid back" beach lifestyle that Hawaii purportedly offered adventure-seekers, initially perceived the state as a preeminent exotic destination.


The hippest folks "waved their wigs" back in the day, and this happened.

Johnson Products was the leading line of hair products for African-Americans in the 1960s. Constant upkeep was necessary to groom the trendy Afro hairdo properly, and the company profited hugely as a result. Johnson Products owned 80 percent of the black hair care industry at the time.


Are you able to translate the common '60s phrase, "panty waist"?

Women's underwear in the '60s took a turn for the natural. Stores stocked no-wire bras, panties with animal prints and looser-fitting undergarment silhouettes that encouraged shapely female forms.


Take a small crew of your groovy friends to a bar and one or more of you may get "bevvied up," which means ________.

"Bevvied up" is one of many slang terms that were unique to British "mods." In the U.K., a "flashkick" was an American "blast," meaning "a good time," and a "face" in England was "tough" in '60s America, meaning "ultra-stylish mod" and "good-looking," respectively.


If it's "no sweat," then it's ________.

An accessory that practically every hippie kept within reach was a kerchief or headband. Many brandished the headgear to make a fashion statement. But the pieces served the practical purpose of absorbing sweat, preventing it from getting into hippie faces during protests or a full day in the sun.


If you didn't know about the "Fab Four" in the '60s, then you were way off and not "far out!" Who were the "Fab Four"?

For the uninitiated, the Beatles were (some would argue, still are) the ultimate rock group. The band from Liverpool, England, rose to fame during the '60s with hits like "Here Comes the Sun" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand."


Be careful if you yell "Sock it to me!" today, but in the '60s the clause meant ________.

American R&B songstress Aretha Franklin released her generational hit, "Respect," in 1967. The relationship song calls for unrestrained consideration; its lyrics repeat the apt phrase, "sock it to me," several times.


Sixties "Fab Four" fans would "freak out" when hearing their music. What's going on here?

"Beatlemania" was the term that described the frenzy the Beatles tended to agitate among their avid fans. The "mania" was most severe during the Beatles' in-person stage performances and chance public sightings.


Anything that was "at the death" in the '60s was _______.

The 21st century owes a gratitude of debt to the 1960s for conservation efforts the generation set in motion. Zero-waste was a term used by some companies and government agencies to call attention to environmentally-sound practices, but hippies turned the concept into a mass movement.


There is no need for a baseball mitt to "catch some rays" because what are you really doing?

The sun rays of the 21st century are not the same sun rays of the '60s. Incidences of melanoma and sarcoma skin disorders have skyrocketed since the '60s. Some theorize that a waning ozone layer due to air pollutants and industry wastes is a major factor for some cancers caused by the sun.


"Burning rubber" usually follows "peeling off." What are you doing and with what?

Austin, Texas, was a hippie hub in the '60s. Austin resident John Kelso reflected on his "hippie heritage" in a 2001 "Austin American Statesman" article about a riot in the city where police officers shot at rioters with rubber bullets, which was an anomaly for Kelso.


The term "groovy" was thrown everywhere in the '60s. Folks got "in the groove" in order to ________.

In 2013, a "Groovy Hippie Jump Contest" took place in the Southern California city of San Clemente. A local restaurant sponsored the skater contest, which took place in a converted parking lot and included an adjustable high-bar.


Since the '60s, surfers who "wipe out" on the ocean waves do this.

On December 4, 1969, surfing legend Greg Noll rode a 35-foot wave at Oahu's west shore in Makaha, Hawaii, without a "wipe out." A "wipe out" was not reserved for '60s surfers; the term meant suffering a "big fall," in general.


You were "all show and no go" in the flower era if you ________.

"All show and no go" was another way of calling someone "fake." The hippie costume still remains a Halloween favorite. Fake wispy tresses, mustaches and side burns are typical adornments.


Sixties kids can be so cruel! Whom did they refer to as "on the way out"?

Many of the hippies of the 1960s were baby boomers, who now comprise the largest elderly population to date. "Yippies" and "golden boomers" are other terms used to describe the generation.


Who was "on the make" in the 1960s?

The speed dating phenomenon began in 1998 at a Southern California coffee shop, but rotating mates is surely a derivative of the Free Love Movement from the 1960s. Weed dating is the newest peculiarity that merges swapping partners with smoking certain unmentionables.


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