Skip to main content

The Dictionary of 1980s Slang - from Acid House to Zits!

fronr cover of The Dictionary of 1980s slang
The Dictionary of 80s Slang by Rick Carlile

As I grow older, it certainly becomes more challenging to keep up with all the latest slang terms, memes, acronyms and abbreviations used on social media by today's youth. Okay, so I know the popular ones such as WTF and LOL, but half the time I haven't a clue what they're on about! I guess, it was the same for my parents back in the 80s. We didn't have the internet, of course, but I'm pretty sure we used some ridiculous slang words that were very much of their time.

The Dictionary of 1980s Slang by Rick Carlille is described as "The Totally Awesome Guide to Rockin' 80s Lingo". The author is American, and so the book is aimed at an American audience. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a huge array of definitions (over 800 in all) that we were also using here in the UK, from acid house to zit, the latter of which I'm certainly glad to see the back of! 

The 1980s was an energetic decade, for sure, and this amusing book matches this. It's a fascinating insight into the language being used back then. It starts by telling us why we use slang in the first place, which was interesting in itself. For obvious reasons, I'm not going to feature every slang term used, but I would like to go over a few of the best ones. And it's great to know that I have in my arsenal a huge selection of slang-terms and abbreviations that will confuse today's youth.

As you would expect, the book starts with the letter A, which is a good start! Acid house and acid-washed are certainly familiar, and I certainly experienced both of these, although not the actual Acid drug, which was actually LSD. But driving around trying to find a rave in a field in the middle of nowhere was certainly an experience, although we would often turn up either in the wrong location or a week too late!

Some of the words featured are not actually slang, but the addition of words associated only with the 80s is very welcome. Commodore, for instance, was a manufacturer of computers that became defunct sometime in 1994, and just about about everyone wanted a C64 or an Amiga.

It's good to see the air guitar mentioned here, and there can't be many of us who grew-up in the 80s without pretending to play an electric guitar while listening to Bon Jovi blasting out of a boombox.

Ah, now this one is amusing! We certainly used the term ball-huggers here in the UK, although, thankfully, I never paraded around in a pair of tight swimming trunks, as I didn't want to evacuate the beach!

So do you remember using a BBS? This was, of course, a Bulletin Board System, which was pretty much the first incarnation of the internet. Staying with technology, and Betamax is another word that hasn't been used for many a decade. My parents were wise enough to opt for VHS, which was the more popular of the two video cassette formats. This was also the decade that introduced us to the camcorder and CD, of course - do any of you still buy CD's?

The word bimbo was certainly used a lot by the red top tabloids, and many blonde, female celebrities found themselves being labelled as one, whether they liked it or not.

Cheesy is a word very strongly associated with the 80s, although I prefer the word Corny myself, and there are many songs and movies that have been labelled as such. Personally, I like a bit of 80s cheese (and I'm not talking about cheddar), and the decade just wouldn't have been the same without it!

Dipstick was used by Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses. I certainly remember calling my friend a dipstick whenever he was acting like one, which was quite often! Dipshit is also here, but this one was used more in the American movies. 

Now, although there are a quite a few terms here that we didn't use in the UK (such a mall chick), I still recognise a great many of them, as American movies were hugely popular, particularly with the advent of the video rental store.

Floppy is a great word to tell your kids about. We all know that it is an antiquated computer storage medium, but trying to explain to a young person that you used to insert your 5 and a quarter inch floppy into your computer, and they will certainly think you have lost the plot! - "it didn't hurt, I promise!"

You may also remember shareware and freeware software, which often came on a floppy disk, and I certainly remember buying this for my Atari ST. Quite often, though, I received a faulty disk which made a disconcerting noise. This was definitely not the most reliable storage medium! 

Joystick is also here, and it's certainly been a long time since I last gripped one! I'm not sure if the mini joysticks on my PS4 controller count, they're just not quite the same as waggling a Quickshot or Cheetah 125+. 

Great to see new wave given a mention. It's kind of old wave now, I guess! Although the term is still being used, new wave music is certainly very much associated with the 1980s. It's one was of my favourite genres, for sure!

My goodness, this book has certainly rekindled a great many memories, quite a few which I'd forgotten about. It's certainly proving to be a very handy resource for my article writing on my 80s blogs, and has given me inspiration for a lot of new subjects to write about.

Whether you want to confuse your kids or simply jog your memory with the many slang terms and words we were all using back in the day, you'll find this a fascinating read.

The Dictionary of 1980s Slang is available as a paperback, hardback and also for Kindle.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Blondie - Debbie Harry - 70s and 80s Fashion Photos

Embed from Getty Images Debbie Harry Fridge Magnet Back in my school days (yes, it was a long, long time ago!) many kids associated Blondie purely with lead singer Debbie Harry, although Blondie was actually a band, and a damn fine one, too. It's not hard to see why. After all, she oozed sex appeal and became a style icon, and many of her looks can still be seen on the high street today. Harry's designer friend Stephen Sprouse can claim responsibility for many of those looks. He created every style you can imagine using denim, black leather biker jackets, camoflauge, wayfarer and aviator shades, pink and girly styles, nautical stripes, animal print catsuits - the list goes on! I find it amusing that in 1998 Britney Spears caused controversy by wearing a school uniform for her video "Hit Me Baby One More Time". How quickly we forget that Debbie Harry had done this two decades earlier! After forming in 1974, Blondie became pioneers of the punk and new wave s

Create an 80s Aerobics Fashion Look

Let's Get Physical 80s Workout Costume During the early 1980s, it felt like the whole world had gone aerobics crazy. Females everywhere donned leotards, leggings, headbands and legwarmers, and some were even on rollerskates! Pop stars and actresses were responsible for starting the craze. Olivia Newton-John started a headband fad after the release of here raunchy Physical video in 1981, and the song quickly became an aerobics anthem. And just about every home had a Jane Fonda workout video in their collection - often proudly on display on a book shelf in the living room, or carefully placed on a coffee table for all to see. However, contrary to popular belief, not everyone was wearing neon. Take a look back at the old workout videos and you'll see a whole range of colours and styles being worn. Some leotards were shiny, some had stripes and others were pastel. Zebra stripes, leopard print, and splatter paint designs were also worn by some. There were often (but not always)

Create Your Own E.T. The Extra Terrestrial Costume

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial was the highest-grossing movie of the 80s, and many regard it as one of the greatest sci-fi films of all time. The Spielberg classic tells the story of a lonely boy named Elliot who becomes friend with a stranded extra terrestrial who needs to get back home - we all remember that classic "E.T. phone home" moment, don't we? If you're looking for a unique costume idea for a 1980s, sci-fi or film and TV party or event, or maybe Halloween, then an E.T. costume should fit the bill for both men or women. Adult Elliot Costume (US) Adult ET Costume (UK ) Now, you can buy a ready-made ET outfit from Amazon UK or Amazon.com. However, although it's convenient, it's also pretty expensive, and you can very easily create your own costume for a fraction of the cost. You'll notice that ET is wearing a red hoodie and blue jeans in the picture above for the UK costume. However, in the film, it is Elliot who wears this, and