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5 Slang Terms Boomers Invented Their Grandchildren are Using Today

By Paul - July 17, 2014

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Each generation has its own lingo, a collection of terms they invented to describe just about anything that can happen in an average day. Most of the slang that baby boomers have invented is gone today, as each ensuing generation created their own terms and lingo. It’s a part of language that words will change and evolve with the years, but not every bit of lingo will disappear entirely. There are always a few words and phrases that carry over to successive generations, with a rare bunch that’ll transcend several generations. In this post, we take a look at five slang terms that have stood the test of time and are being used by boomers’ grandchildren today.


This term first saw the light of day in the 1940s and 1950s, depending on which area of the U.S. you lived in. Originally, “badass” was a term used to denote a “tough guy”, a man who showed exceptional ability in being able to withstand rigors far and above the usual standard of living. It was used exclusively in reference to men, and only if they were tough or aggressive in their behavior. You’d use the term “badass” for a man who drove fast, lived life on the edge, and indulged in other behaviors related to that. Think James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, and you have the epitome of what it meant to be a badass.


The term has loosened a bit from its original meaning, chiefly in its ability to be applied to both men and women. As well, the intensity of the word has eased, too, and it no longer refers to just someone who’s tough and aggressive, but can be stretched to describe someone who doesn’t live according to the rules (despite how close or far they stray from them).


You likely heard this term solely to mean someone who slowly drove up and down a street in their hot car, looking to pick up someone of the opposite sex. Heck, there was even a movie made in 1962 — American Graffiti — that explored cruising and all its popularity. If you were anywhere close in age to a teenager or young adult, you knew exactly what “cruising” meant, even if it wasn’t exactly your idea of fun.


The term “cruising” is still used to mean looking to pick up other people for sexual purposes, but it’s broadened quite a bit. Cars have been almost entirely replaced by computers, smartphones and tablets, allowing the younger generation to scope out potential dates from the comfort of their own homes. And with the growing openness of queer relationships, cruising has come to be dominantly used in reference to men looking for other men, as opposed to men (or women) looking to pick up the opposite sex.


The word itself (namely, the spelling) has been around for hundreds of years, but the definition we’re focusing on — something that’s elevated to a higher esteem — started in the 1960s. Back then, it was used to describe something that was really cool or fantastic, like a “boss car” or “boss hi-fi”. Boomers snapped up this definition pretty quickly, although it faded a bit as the next decades came and went.


Your grandchildren use it in almost the same context, albeit with a few minor tweaks and adjustments. It’s still retained its essence of referring to something cool or fantastic, but instead of being solely applied to objects, it can be used for people, too. For example, you’d probably hear one of your grandchildren addressing a superior as “boss”; they may or may not think that person is cool or fantastic, and they may be using “boss” as a way to acknowledge the difference in their statuses.


By now, just about every single person is quite familiar with this term, which is used to describe a person — almost always a female — who goes “backstage” with a singer or band. It’s not much of a stretch to imagine what most groupies do behind closed doors, as anyone familiar with the Rolling Stones’ history can easily tell you. “Groupie” doesn’t always or necessarily refer to a female who has sex with a popular male singer, as men who were huge fans of a band could also be called groupies if they hung out with the band backstage.


It should come as no surprise that the meaning of “groupie” hasn’t changed a single bit. Groupies are still people — still predominantly women — who go backstage with singers or bands, and attach themselves that way. There’s a little bit of platonic hanging out that goes on, but it’s still mostly hanky-panky behind closed doors.


For almost a hundred years, from the 1870s to the 1960s, “dude” was primarily used to talk about a man’s fashion sense. There were different ways it could be used: either to describe a man who was very cutting edge in terms of the clothes he wore (i.e. a dandy); or a city man, dressed in trendy city clothes, who was in a more rural environment. But after the 1960s, “dude” began to evolve to mean any male person as a casual means of addressing him.


More or less, “dude” still refers to a way of addressing a man, albeit in a very, very casual sense. This term would never be used in a formal sense or to address a person of authority or seniority, but rather a friend or compatriot. It’s also been stretched to include women — sometimes “dudette” is used — especially if the user is on a very familiar basis with her, but “dude” is more commonly used towards men.