Can You Translate These Slang Words From the '70s?

By: Torrance Grey

Can You Translate These Slang Words From the '70s?
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About This Quiz

Oh, the 1970s: Not the most articulate decade, we have to admit. Heavily influenced by the hippie culture that was born in the late 1960s, the children of the 1970s valued the simple honesty of "rapping" over wit and verbal fireworks. I mean, showing off your education and your big vocabulary was such a bummer, man! 

Even so, the groovy youth of the 1970s — like young people of any generation — had to hide what they meant from parents, teachers and other "squares." So they created plenty of informal terms — slang, that is. Unlike their children in the 1990s, who would take to the internet and use a variety of acronyms from "POS" to "LOL," the teenagers of the 1970s communicated face to face, or over the telephone. So you won't see much in the way of acronyms or abbreviations (which might be kind of a relief in today's alphabet-soup age). 

How well do you remember the slang of the '70s? Maybe you're old enough to have used these terms yourself (hey, we're not asking!). Or maybe you've learned them from a love of old 1970s television, like "Good Times" and "Three's Company." Whichever the case, we've created a quiz to challenge you. Dust off your hippie-to-English dictionary and get going!

(adj.) cool
One of many synonyms for "cool." Also used as "peachy keen," which we were really glad to see the last of. As we say in the 2010s, "Girl bye!"
(adj.) plump or cuddly
(adj.) oversexed
(adj.) stupid

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(v.) to dance
We're kind of glad this one fell out of favor. It always sounded kind of silly. Nowadays, we just get out on the floor and jam. Much more dignified!
(v.) to converse sincerely
(n.) an uncool person
(n.) a soldier

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(interj.) awesome!
Did astronomy buffs come up with this one after grooving on how cool is it to see galaxies that are light years away? Maybe not, but that's our theory and we're sticking to it!
(interj.) awful!
(interj.) get lost!
(q.) what's up?

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(n.) an ambitious person
(n.) a very skinny person
(v.) to run nude through a public place
Streaking was a prank or a form or political protest in the 1970s. How exactly did running through a public event in your altogether effect social change? Frankly, we're still trying to figure that out.
(v.) to make out

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(n.) one's food
(n.) one's home
We suppose your crib could be your van if you lived in it. But, in general, it was your place. "We went back to my crib."
(n.) one's truck
(n.) one's van

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(adj.) untrustworthy
(adj.) loyal
(adj.) smart
(adj.) sexy
A good-looking person of either gender could be "a fox." "Foxy" was only applied to women, though.

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(adj.) cool
"Groove" was an important term in the '60s and 1970s. As a noun, it meant a mellow vibe; as a verb, it meant to be hip and mellow. So it was inevitable that an adjective form would be born.
(adj.) disturbing
(adj.) speedy
(adj.) wise

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(n.) a cool person
(n.) an uncool person
Although every generation has words to divide the cool from the uncool, "square" meant something a little different to the hippies than "geek" does today. Often it had to do with never having done drugs, and with still being part of the capitalist, consumerist world. It didn't have to do with wearing glasses or the wrong clothes — "the squares" were on the opposite side of a deep cultural divide.
(v.) to finish school
(v.) to get in a fight

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(n.) a disappointment
Today, to "drag" someone means to embarrass them in public. But in the '70s, it was a word meaning a disappointment or something that brought you down: "What a drag."
(n.) a long-nursed resentment
(v.) to go without food a long time
(v.) to overeat

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(n.) apartment or home
"Pad" was a sexy term for home. If you got picked up by a man in the 1970s, he likely invited you back to his "pad."
(n.) best friend
(n.) job
(n.) steady girlfriend

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(n.) a parent
(n.) a square
(v.) to arrest someone
(v.) to take a hit off a joint
Marijuana is bigger than ever, having been legalized in 10 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., by the end of 2018. Maybe that's why we're relaxed enough to simply call it "smoking," which it is.

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(interj.) Are you decent?
(interj.) Are you at home?
(interj.) Do you understand?
This is one of the flagship slang terms of the 1960s and 1970s. Other terms like "cool" got their start much earlier, and lasted longer, but "Dig?" in its various forms is iconic hippie-era slang.
(interj.) Do you feel okay?

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(v.) have an anxiety attack
This one is still used today, and means the same thing. Except in the 1970s, psychedelic drugs were often involved — while some people found LSD and mushrooms very beneficial, a "bad trip" could be very scary.
(v.) dance excellently
(v.) drive very fast
(v.) study really hard

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(n.) disinformation
(n.) the police
The "fuzz" was a generic or collective term, like "the police."
(v.) to make out
(v.) to run away or leave quickly

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1970's Records Keep on truckin':
(interj.) keep evading the draft
(interj.) stay high
(interj.) don't screw up
A nearly meaningless phrase meaning "take it easy" or "keep doing your thing."
One of the least relatable things about the 1970s was that people thought long-distance truck-driving was the coolest job ever. Hence the popular phrase "Keep on truckin'" which meant variously "stay cool," "take it easy," etc. Also a favorite for iron-on patches.

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(adj.) awesome
If you had a "boss car," you probably had a Mustang or a Corvette. Sadly, you weren't going to be able to afford gas for it for long!
(adj.) alone
(adj.) frightening
(adj.) strange

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(n.) a cop or authority figure
This noun can be singular, plural or just sort of collective. Just don't forget the capital M.
(n.) a drag queen
(n.) the men's room
(n.) a manual-transmission car

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(v.) to call someone late at night
(v.) to disappear from someone's life
(n.) a nervous, jittery person
Not-so-fun fact: This term is actually a bit insensitive. It's a shortening of "spastic," meaning a person who can't control their muscles (having spasms). This became a derogatory term for a person who was a ball of nervous energy.
(n.) a harsh, authoritative person

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(adj.) awesome or cool
(v.) to run or move fast
Example: "We were late for the concert, so we were booking down Interstate 10." Not to be confused with the police slang for "process into jail."
(v.) to rat someone out
(n.) a whole pack of cigarettes

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(n.) a late-night phone call
(n.) a hip parent
(n.) a new boyfriend/girlfriend
(n.) something disappointing or depressing
This one never really fell out of fashion, although "downer" came to rival it in popularity. Nowadays, it tends to be more ironic. Deploy it in a deadpan tone when a friend's going on way too long about a minor grievance; they'll get the point.

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(n.) fool or loser
Before "loser" became a catchall insult, we had "chump." Often male, he's the guy whose toast always lands butter-side-down.
(n.) couch or bed
(v.) to drive slow
(v.) to take it easy

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(v.) getting lectured
(v.) lecturing someone
(v.) drinking to excess
(v.) using psychedelic drugs
Nowadays, the definition of "tripping" has changed to mean having anxiety or bad feelings for any reason. But in the 1970s, when psychedelics were very popular, it meant specifically that someone was using them, to either good or bad emotional effect.

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(n.) a cool man
This came from African-American slang of the mid-20th century. "A real cool cat" was invariably a man, not a woman (though we're not sure why), and eventually "cool" got dropped, because it was just understood.
(n.) a cool woman
(n.) an undercover officer
(n.) to sneak around

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(n.) a drug user
Stephen King, who has been forthright about his onetime drug use, used this term in an interview to good effect. "I was a head in the '70s," he said. "I don't mean 'I was ahead of everyone else,' I mean, I was A HEAD."
(n.) a car enthusiast
(v.) to avoid doing something
(v.) to study hard

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(v.) to converse sincerely
This was one of the slang terms most often adopted by parents, teachers and clergy. Many a 1970s kid can remember rolling his or her eyes when one such authority figure asked, "Do you want to rap?"
(v.) to clown around
(n.) a great idea
(n.) a cool cat

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(n.) a cop
(n.) a very studious person
(adj.) cool; excellent
Like other pieces of 1970s slang, this one seems to have its origins in African-American vernacular. Case in point: It makes an appearance in the blaxploitation classic "Blacula."
(adj.) square

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Mr. Cool - 1970s Outta sight:
(adj.) hard to believe
(adj.) fantastic
We'd call this another synonym for "cool," but really, it's stronger than that. This was a popular phrase to iron onto T-shirts (remember iron-ons?)
(adj.) very ambitious
(adj.) really skinny

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(n.) big-bottomed girl
(n.) a handsome guy
(v.) to borrow (something)
The classic use of this phrase was "Can I bum a smoke?" Technically, it meant less "borrow" than "have."
(v.) to forget a responsibility

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(n.) house or crib
(n.) gig, job or favorite activity
This one's not used much anymore. It's been replaced with the more generic "thing."
(v.) to lie to (someone)
(v.) to find a girlfriend or boyfriend

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(n.) the county jail
(n.) a curvy/sexy woman
Everyone who knows this one probably does so because of the Commodores song by the same name. It's a classic '70s anthem, in praise of a little "bam" in the front and "pow" in the back!
(v.) to stand by someone
(v.) to put up a solid wall of lies

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(n.) a guy who was retro in a cool way
(n.) a guy who stole girls
(v.) to keep something to yourself, especially a joint
Humphrey Bogart was cool in a retro way; that's undeniable. But he gave his name to a slang term for not passing along a joint in a timely fashion. This came from the way Bogart would often perform whole scenes with a cigarette in his mouth, never taking it out.
(v.) to avoid bars and clubs

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(adj.) cool, slick
It's hard to run out of ways to say "cool," isn't it? This one was popularized by "The Outsiders," which tells readers, "'Tuff' and 'tough' are two different words ... in my neighborhood, both are compliments."
(adj.) hard, cold
(adj.) beautiful
(adj.) educated

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(v.) to run fast
(v.) to joke
(v.) to lie
Either #2 or #3
We all know someone who stretches the truth, but is also colorful and funny. That's a pretty good description of the "jive talker" of the 1970s.

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(adj.) cool
(adj.) in the know
(adj.) square
Both #1 and #2
The term "hip" and "hipster" actually appear to date from the Prohibition era, when alcohol was illegal, but the cool people carried liquor in a flask on the hip. This made them "hip" or "hipsters." The kids of the '70s brought the term "hip" back in a big way. It wasn't until the 2000s that "hipster" made a reappearance, but this time around, it isn't much of a compliment!

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(v.) to talk or rap
"Gassin'" meant talking, sometimes in a big, braggadocious way.
(n.) a good time
(n.) a lousy time
(v.) to refuel your car

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