I was driving home from work recently and a song I was listening to reminded me of old words and phrases we used to use while we were growing up. There was the obligatory “dork,” which I believe many kids still use today. Things like “geek” and “awesome” probably still weave their way through the high school and elementary hallways, too. But digging deeper, I tried to think of some other words that definitely didn’t make it past the early ’90s.
For example, I don’t think “airhead” or “ditz” get much play anymore, but back then it certainly did. I also remember using the word “bodacious” quite a bit to describe something or someone (see: girls) that was very, very good. An easy one to remember is “rad.” I can’t say I used that one so much, but there were definitely a group in school who did. Here’s a good one: for a while in grade school (maybe 6th or 7th grade), we used the word “dipstick” a lot to describe someone who did something stupid. Origin: The Dukes of Hazzard. A few that I truly miss: spaz, poser, grody, dweeb and one of my all-time favorites: “ta-ta’s.” I probably don’t need to go into that last one, but you can probably figure it out.
I don’t ever remember a single time ever using any of the valley girl stuff like “gag me with a spoon”or stuff like “totally tubular” and I don’t remember many other people using it, either.
Then, of course, there were the words we invented on our own. If you’re not from Bolton, Lancaster or Stow, Massachusetts and you didn’t go to high school in the 85-87 range, you have no idea what “rant” means. Based purely on hearsay, the word was invented by one Jon Shapiro, graduate of 1985, who also happened to live three doors down the street from me. He was gone by the time we were freshman, but his invention lived on with us, particularly during the 1985-1986 school year. It was initially used to describe a girl who, uh, got around. But after a while, the scope of the definition expanded and you could use “rant” to describe any woman for any reason. I mean, in retrospect not many freshman girls got around, but the word was so good that the definition just needed to expand.
It wasn’t just calmly uttering “rant,” either. You had to pronounce it a certain way, always making it fairly loud and, of course, as obnoxious as possible. Often you’d simply leave out the “t” because the “RAN” part was enough if you stressed it. Sometimes you could just make a completely ridiculous noise that any human outside the high school would think you were just doing an impression of a farm animal and we’d know it was “rant.” Just because. It was brilliant.
I’m sure I’ve left some out as it’s coming up on 17 years since I graduated from high school. Did you make up any good words or can you remember any others?