It’s a common joke that if you were around in the ’60s, you probably don’t remember them, but fortunately, that isn’t true. (For the most part!) The ’60s was one of the most consequential decades in American history, and it produced a lot of expressions that everyone knew at the time but which rarely are used today. We’ve rounded up 12 of them. How many did you know before reading this?
1. Gimme Some Skin
If you said this to someone, you probably had your hand out with your palm up, expecting the other person to slap your hand. This evolved into “slap me some skin” and “gimme five” and eventually into the high-five.
2. The Fuzz
A slang term for the police, you might not come across this today unless you read or watch The Outsiders, which is set in the ’60s. It was a derogatory term regarding the police as soft and incompetent.
3. Dig It
This didn’t mean to pick up a shovel and get to work. Instead, it was a way of saying you understood or appreciated something or to ask the same of someone else.
4. Boob Tube
In the ’60s, TVs were finally in almost every American household. This slang term referred to the cathode ray tube inside the original boxy TVs and to the zombified effect it had on so many watchers, rendering them “boobs.”
5. Going Steady
If you were dating someone exclusively in the ’60s, you were going steady. By the 80s, it had changed to “going out” and “going together,” and today has terms like “situationships” for it. It always was and still is okay to say someone is your boyfriend or girlfriend; they convey the same thing.
Related to the above, passionate kissing was called necking, maybe because it usually involved one or both participants having an arm around the other’s neck. There was a lot of it taking place at drive-in movies in the ’60s. Today, you’re more likely to hear “making out.”
This came from a TV comedy show and referred to one’s rear end. The phrase “You bet your [something we won’t print here]” grew from “You bet your bippy.” It meant and still means that you can be sure about something.
8. Bogart (As a Verb)
In his movies, Humphrey Bogart would often smoke a cigarette all the way down to a tiny stub. To bogart something meant to hog it up and not share any, frequently referring to a marijuana joint. The era classic Easy Rider even had a song called “Don’t Bogart Me” in its soundtrack.
9. What’s Your Bag?
If you asked someone this, you were asking what was bothering them, or you might have been asking in an irritated way what their problem was. It was a play on the word baggage, referring to what we carry around with us.
10. Keep On Truckin’
When you were facing a challenging situation, someone might have told you to keep on truckin’. You’re not likely to hear it today unless you’re around Grateful Dead fans; the classic song “Truckin’” is the inspiration for it.
11. Cool Cat
Somebody who was really cool and stylish was a cool cat. It might have grown from jazz lingo. If you hear it today, it will likely be from someone who was around in the ’60s; it’s pretty uncommon otherwise.
Originally, this meant you were sly, but it grew into a term describing an attractive woman who was a “fox.” The legendary Jimi Hendrix helped popularize the term with his song “Foxy Lady.” You might still hear these terms today, but they’ve largely been replaced by terms like “hot.”
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Robert Sihler is an educator, freelance writer, and rock climbing guide and instructor living with his family in Driftwood, Texas. In his spare time, he enjoys reading fiction, streaming films, completing crossword puzzles, and rock climbing. When he goes on vacation, he likes to visit the mountains of the West and climb remote, obscure peaks that have seen few or no prior ascents.