The Totally Gnarly '80s Slang Quiz

By: Allison Lips

The Totally Gnarly '80s Slang Quiz
Image: RichVintage/E+/GettyImages

About This Quiz

In the 1980s, teens wore bright colors, used slang and created their own culture. Some girls spoke like Valley Girls in an attempt to attract teenage boys. Others hung out with surfers or the mallrats, which were two subcultures with their own lingo. Both wanted you to know that they were not be confused with the nerds and the dweebs.

Teenagers on the coasts were able to catch some gnarly waves after school. Everyone else was stuck listening to the radio or popping cassettes into their boomboxes and Walkmans. If you were lucky, you could watch MTV to discover new music. Fortunately for music lovers, this was the time when Michael Jackson was bad. Those who enjoyed harder music headbanged to Twisted Sister and Poison songs as their sisters listened to Madonna and Cyndi Lauper.

After dinner, the family would gather 'round the TV and watch rad shows like "The A-Team," "MacGyver," and "Miami Vice." 

Did this intro get you amped? Or do the '80s make you want to exclaim "gag me with a spoon?" Will you find this quiz to be dope or will you feel like a doofus because you forgot what some words mean? Don't wig out. It's time to get stoked and test your '80s slang vocabulary!

Why would a surfer dude describe waves as gnarly?
They're boring.
They're easy.
They're challenging.
Outside of slang, "gnarly" means twisted. In the 1970s, the word entered surfer slang. By 1982, it spread into teen slang where it picked up the dual meanings of both "awesome" and "disgusting."
They're big.

Advertisement

When someone requests that you "Gag me with a spoon," what are they really saying?
Disgust
"Gag me with a spoon" entered 80s slang from Val-speak. Val-speak is social dialect used by Valley Girls, who lived in the San Fernando Valley.
Love
Anger
Happiness

Advertisement

If you were told a story and at the end, the person telling it said "psych!," what did they do?
Educate you
Bore you
Excite you
Fool you
"Psych" has many meanings that are not an abbreviation for psychology. You can say "psych" at the end of a sentence that was meant as a joke. You also can "be psyched," which means to be excited.

Advertisement

When someone says that's "radical," what do they mean?
That's hideous.
That's geeky.
That's awful.
That's cool.
"Radical" can be shortened to "rad." In 1982, both versions entered slang.

Advertisement

"Let's get amped for this party," means what?
Let's get excited.
In 1973, "amped-up" started to be used to express intense excitement. The earliest known use of it being shortened to "amped" comes from 1981.
Let's figure out a way not to go.
Let's figure out how to crash it.
Let's ignore it.

Advertisement

When a man describes a woman as "bodacious," what is he saying?
She's nice.
She's mean.
She's sexy.
The word "bodacious" was popular in the 1980s. However, its first usage dates to 1832. Merriam-Webster believes the word is most likely a blend of "bold" and "audacious."
She's ugly.

Advertisement

Which is another way to describe an "airhead?"
Friendly
Rude
Intelligent
Scatterbrained
"Airhead" did not always mean a stupid person. It was originally a military term for a secured area in hostile territory used for bringing in supplies and more troops. The name derives from the fact that these areas were usually secured by airborne troops.

Advertisement

What does "Don't have a cow" mean?
Don't give up.
Don't get upset.
The Simpsons helped popularize, "Don't have a cow." The British idiom don't "have kittens" means the same thing.
Don't be a loser.
Don't leave.

Advertisement

If you're told to take a "chill pill," what are you being told to do?
Get excited.
Calm down.
The phrase chill pill predates the 1980s. In the 1800s, recipe books would print recipes for "chill pills," which were pills that were intended to help with the chills from high fevers. The original phrase has nothing to do with the more modern version.
Have fun.
Get angry.

Advertisement

Who would you tell to "bite me?"
Someone you love
Someone you find boring
Someone who helped you
Someone who made you angry
"Bite me" is generally considered rude. It is also used to express annoyance.

Advertisement

What made Will Smith the "Fresh Prince?"
His family
His coolness
Fresh first appeared in the 13th century. Over time, it has evolved to mean many things. It can mean something is not stale, something original and someone who lacks experience.
His money
The IRS

Advertisement

Who are you with if you're hanging with your "posse?"
A group of friends
Posse comes from "posse comitatus," which is Medieval Latin for "authority of the county." It usually referred to a group of people a sheriff would summon to help preserve the peace in an area.
Your parents
You classmates
No one

Advertisement

Why would the cool kids avoid a "nerd?"
That person is mean.
That person is weird.
That person is scary.
That person is introverted and bookish.
Dr. Seuss coined "nerd." It first appeared in his 1950s book "If I Ran the Zoo." At the time it was not used as a synonym for "geek."

Advertisement

When someone exclaims "totally," what do they mean?
Maybe
Get lost!
No way!
Of course!
In 1509, "totally" entered the English language. It use as slang is an extension of its original meaning of "completely."

Advertisement

Who is a "dude?"
A man
In the 1880s, a dude was a dandy. In the 1960s, the word was appropriated by surfer culture. A female "dude" is a "dudette."
A woman
A doctor
A teacher

Advertisement

If you ask for "the 411," what are you looking for?
Gossip
Relevant information
In 1985, 411 started to apply to "the skinny." 411 was chosen because it is the number used to reach directory assistance.
Advice
A good conversation

Advertisement

What does it mean to do something "to the max?"
Very quickly
The bear minimum
The ultimate extent
In the 1980s, to the max became slang for "to reach the maximum level." Anther phrase that uses max is "max out," which is to reach the limit of something.
In a showy way

Advertisement

If someone gets "burned," what happened to them?
They overwhelmingly beat the competition.
They made a delicious meal.
They last an argument in a humiliating fashion.
In general, the world "burn" comes from the Middle English "bernen." Other slang phrases featuring burn are "to burn a bridge," "to burn oneself out," "to burn the candle at both ends," and "to burn the midnight oil."
They went surfing.

Advertisement

If you're vegging out in front of the TV set, what are you doing?
Relaxing
"Veg out" is slang for vegetate. It became common in the mid-1980s. Prior to then, "veg" was used as an abbreviation of vegetable.
Yelling
Staring
Sleeping

Advertisement

What does "as if" mean?
Yeah right
"As if" is used to show derision. You could also say "you wish" or "whatever."
Of course!
Who cares?
That's awesome.

Advertisement

If you were in the 1980s and someone described an outfit as "bogus," what would they mean?
It's too tight.
It's too girly.
It's awesome.
It's uncool.
Back in the 1800s, a bogus was a machine that made counterfeit coins. The word bogus was eventually applied to anything "phony."

Advertisement

If you ask a question and someone responds "duh," what are they implying?
The answer is important.
The answer is obvious.
"Duh" was first used in 1943. At the time, it was used to feign ignorance.
No one cares about the answer.
It's time to move on.

Advertisement

What was a "yuppie?"
A young person who wastes time
A young person who works in a mall
A young person who works in the city
Yuppie was coined in the early 1980s. It is short for either "young urban professional" or "young, upwardly-mobile professional."
A surfer who spends all day at the beach

Advertisement

What does an '80s teen mean when they call something "wicked?"
It's great.
Wicked can be used as an adjective or an adverb. In either usage, it serves as an intensifier of something that is deemed impressive.
It's terrible.
It's mean.
It's boring.

Advertisement

When would you use "whatever" as an interjection?
You're being talked over.
You have a strong opinion.
You're interested in the conversation.
You're indifferent to the situation.
In 2010, "whatever" topped a Marist poll for the most annoying word in the English language. Of the 1,020 Americans surveyed, 39 percent found "whatever" to be more annoying than "like" and "you know what I mean."

Advertisement

What type of person is most likely to scream "cowabunga" to show excitement?
Teacher
Surfer
While "cowabunga" became popular in the 1980s, it did not originate then. In 1954, it was said on "The Howdy Doody Show" by "Chief Thunderthud." It became popular later on due to its use in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."
Doctor
Actor

Advertisement

What does someone mean when they say "barf me out?"
You made them physically ill.
You excited them.
You disgust them.
Barf me out is always used in that order and used to show disgust. However, "barf out" means to become very upset or to freak out.
You are annoying.

Advertisement

Why would you call something "grody?"
It's unimaginative.
It's boring.
It's awesome.
It's disgusting.
"Grody" got its start in the Frank Zappa song "Valley girls." It is often used in the phrase "grody to the max."

Advertisement

Why might a woman be interested in a "stud?"
He's attractive.
Originally, a stud was a male horse kept for breeding. In the late 1890s, the word morphed to mean a man who is proficient sexually. At the beginning of the 1900s, stud took on the meaning of any man.
He's smart.
He's interesting.
He's rich.

Advertisement

What makes a wannabe?
They like who they are.
They want to be like someone else.
Wannabe entered American English from surfer slang. It became popular when people used it to refer to female fans of Madonna.
They invite themselves to parties.
They spend lots of money.

Advertisement

What does it mean to "party hardy?"
Party very hard
Party hardy is sometimes rendered as "party hearty." The latter version was created because it rhymes.
Skip the party
Party occasionally
Party hop

Advertisement

If someone says that party was "bad," what do they mean?
It was mediocre.
Their parents came home early.
It was crowded.
It was first-rate.
While bad literally means inadequate, it became a popular alternative to "awesome" in the 1980s. Some idioms with bad are "my bad," which means it's my fault, and "not bad," which means that something is adequate.

Advertisement

Why would other high schoolers look down on a "dweeb?"
The person is mean.
The person is arrogant.
The person is the teacher's pet.
The person is insignificant.
"Dweeb" was first recorded in the mid-1960s and may come from college slang. It gained popularity in the 1980s.

Advertisement

If something is "the bomb," what is it?
Bad
Awesome
If something is "the bomb," it is good. However, if something "bombs," it is a failure.
Mediocre
Explosive

Advertisement

What is another term for a "poseur?"
Wannabe
In 1869, "poseur," which is sometimes spelled "poser," entered English. It comes from the French verb "poser," which means to affect an attitude.
Cheater
Loser
Champion

Advertisement

You Got:
/35

Featured