Opinion: So, what does ‘totally tubular’ actually mean?

Today's slang and how we use it

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Every day, we all use words that we accept as normal but are actually pretty strange when you stop to think about them. Words like “hella,” “shoots,” and “ratch(et)” are all actually pretty weird words that we use on a daily basis and accept as perfectly normal everyday words. But I bet if you got a script of your daily vocabulary, you would see how often you use strange words like “cherreh.”

Slang has been used for a long time. In the 1920s, an odd and strange person was often called an “odd bird.” While most people do not use the term “odd bird,” we still use many phrases and words from the 1920s, such as calling a significant other “baby.”

Some slang was altered as humanity entered the 1930s. Many words that older folks use became popular in the ‘30s, like calling a girl a broad, doll, or dame, or asking for the “low down” (information). “Booze,” “your average Joe,” and “packing heat” are all words and phrases that became popular and were used in the ‘30s that people, even teenagers, still use today.

The 1940s were a time of colorful language and odd phrases. Believe it or not, the word “hipster” was used to describe a person not really part of the ‘40s, which eventually turned into “hippies.”

Daddy-O! We’ve all heard this term from old movies or our grandparents. In the 1950s, “daddy-o” was used to address someone, usually a friend. The term “gig” is now mostly used by bands as their jobs. Originally, a “gig” was any job or work. Also, “give me five” means “give me a high five,” but was initially used to ask someone for a handshake.

The 1960s was a time of big hair, racism, drugs, the Beatles, and interesting words. Many words commonly used today came about in the ‘60s. Being “bummed out,” calling a girl a “chick,” doing a “Chinese Fire Drill,” and calling something “cool” (seriously, think about how many times a day you say “cool” to describe something interesting) are only a few examples of words that are a part of our everyday vocabulary.

Slang in the 1970s usually has a comical connotation, meaning that people use ‘70s slang as a joke – rightly so, because people often used “can you dig it?” to ask if someone agrees. For example, today, we would say, “We’re going to the beach, ok?” But back then, they would say “We’re going to the beach. Can you dig it, man?” Other bizarre and totally rad words from the ‘70s include “far out!” “Pfft. Dream on.” “Groovy!’ Ah, the ‘70s. What a strange time!

“Tubular” was used in the 1980s by surfers to describe something awesome or totally excellent. A lot of popular slang from the ‘80s is what we think of today as dumb surfer words, such as calling girls “dudettes” and using “fresh” to describe something cool. Slang from the 1980s is sometimes used today by dads trying to seem cool with teenagers, like calling things “rad” or “gnarly.”

Some students at this school can recall the 1990s, a time of GameBoys and Pokemon. A few slang words that basically defines the ‘90s are “aiiight,” “as if!” “bling-bling,” and “let’s bounce (let’s leave).” In 2014, the ‘90s are portrayed as a crazy time that is often made fun of. However, many perfectly normal words that we use today derive from the crazy ‘90s, such as “chill out” or “I’m down with that.”

Now we enter the 2000s. The early 2000s were basically a repeat of the ‘90s. In 2012, two words exploded all over the internet and eventually into people’s everyday vocabulary: swag and yolo. In 2014, we mostly just make fun of #swag and #yolo, but remember how many shirts and snapbacks had #yolo or #swag plastered all over them? Because I certainly do.

You would be surprised at how many everyday words we use today derive from times that we usually see as old-fashioned. Also, words like “tubular” were as normal as “ratchet” or “shoots” today, but we often make fun of that.

So the next time you hear your grandpa ask you for the “low down” on your social life or school, remember that in 20 years, teenagers will be laughing at the fact that we said “hella” to describe something cool.

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