Apologies for the long silence! I have had a houseful of family staying for several weeks and everything else was shelved.
This is an idea I’ve been mulling over for a while. Several times a day I hear someone use a word or phrase and I think ‘That’s one to save. It didn’t exist in the 1950s/ 60s.’
I’m going to start with some words which were very new and trendy (I think trendy is one of the new ones?) in the 1950s. I was only a kid but I heard these word – mainly in song lyrics.
I have added ‘translations’ for those who weren’t alive at the time and might be puzzled!
Gas – when something was really good or great fun it was described as being ‘a gas’ . It was still around in the 1960s – check out the lyrics of Jumpin’ Jack Flash by The Rolling Stones.
Daddy-O – a term of address from one person to another. Credited to beatnik slang.
Beatnik – definition courtesy of Wiktionary
- A person who dresses in a manner that is not socially acceptable and therewith is supposed to reject conventional norms of thought and behavior; nonconformist in dress and behavior
- A person associated with the Beat Generation of the 1950s and 1960s or its style.
Cat – a cool/ groovy person
Cool – this is still around and now usually means good (more or less) but then it was only used for anything very special.
Greaser – a word used to describe youths with loads of Brylcreem on their hair.
No sweat – nowadays I more often hear ‘no problem’ or ‘no worries’ but this was the expression at the time.
Groovy – cool, trendy, etc
Dig it – I dig it meant you really liked it.
Far out – superb
Outta sight – amazing, even better than far out.
Zonked – done in, tired
Sock it to me – as in ‘Yes! I love it! Give me some more.’
I have deliberately kept away from technology so words like web, internet, digital, cyber etc etc don’t show here. That is a post by itself!
Brill – when I was young, the word brilliant described
a. something shining very brightly
b. somebody who was extremely intelligent.
Now it is just used in place of good, lovely, fine etc and brill is as commonly used as brilliant.
Gross – when I was in school a gross was a mathematical term. It stood for 144! We now commonly describe something disgusting as gross.
Cool – arrived in the 50s and then meant something which was absolutely on trend and totally sought after. This word has hung around and now gets used as freely as OK.
Leggings – The word existed when I was a child and usually referred to baby garments, mostly knitted, which covered the legs but not the feet. Now they’re one of the most widespread items of female clothing.
Gay – the word gay was always around but it used to mean happy, jolly.
Sexism/ ageism/ racism