A Boomer Guide to Modern Slang

D.R. McElroy

What the Hell is a “Doggo”? · 5 min read

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=3bJhTP_0Y8DY1uj00Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Is this a doggo? Is a doggo some weird kind of pseudo-doglike creature that has four legs but otherwise bears only a faint resemblance to man's best friend?

When did “doggo” become an appropriate substitute for “dog”? Was it the same time that people started referring to their pets as “fur babies”? Is doggo a play on words for “kiddo”? Have we all completely lost our minds?

A close-up look at some far-out slang

Every generation has its own slang. When I was a kid, we had words like “groovy” (which meant “cool”, which would later become “awesome”, and which has now apparently turned into “magnificent” — or “wiq” as in “wicked” if you’re British). Groovy nowadays means something that feels like it came from the 70s — and not in a good way. Gross used to mean “disgusting” or “awful”, but now it means “superb” or “badass” in a good way.

Police were “the fuzz” or “Five-O” (in reference to the then-popular TV show Hawaii Five-O). Today’s officers must suffer the indignity of “po po”, “Squalie”, and “bacon” (a pun on “pigs”, obviously). “The boys in blue” is also a popular term for police, despite the fact that uniforms around the country vary in color from black to brown to various shades of grey.

One of the joys of generational slang is that the elders don’t get it; they can’t decipher what’s being said (allegedly), so the youth get to feel smug in their insider knowledge. But slang used to be obscure and creative; making up nonsensical words such as “groovy” was fun and exercised the thinking portions of the brain in clever pursuits.

Today’s slang, however, seems greatly lacking in originality. In fact, if anything, it seems that no effort at all is being made to create unusual new terms or funky phrases to confound the elders. Kids these days (yes, I really just used that term) seem to be too lazy (or too constipated in their thinking?) to bother creating interesting slang, and instead simply truncate common words as though they think that’s enough to keep their parents from understanding them.

I understand that the propensity for truncation comes from the culture of texting and Twitter, where every letter counts against you and slows down the message. But what’s the excuse for chathand aesthetics in verbal communication? (Note: “chathand” equals shorthand for chat rooms).

Chathand terms

bae (for babe, though some camps say it’s for BEFORE ANYONE ELSE, which is actually kind of cute): boyfriend or girlfriend (or lover or SO or whatever — gender neutral)

fam (for family): your people, your tribe, your genetic familiars

peeps (for people): your friends, your groupies, the folks you identify with

cred (for credentials): authenticity, credibility, the authority you have

obvi/obvs (for obviously): obviously, it’s for obviously

garbo (for garbage): describes someone who is hopelessly lacking in any kind of skill

tude (for attitude): refers to a person’s attitude, and it ain’t good

Better slang exists. No cap.

Then there are the real words that are used in peculiar ways — which at least shows some creativity in slang creation:

woke: previously the past tense word for wake, this word now means having an awareness of social injustice, particularly racism.

capping/no cap: once a term reserved for grammar references, capping now means “lying”, while no cap means “no lie” (as in “I’m telling you the truth!”)

lit: the past tense of light, this word came to mean “buzzed” or “drunk” in blues/jazz circles. Modern usage now sees the word referring to “fun” or “exciting”.

bare: originally meaning “the minimum” (as in bare essentials or bare naked), this word now means the exact opposite, as in “very much” or “a lot of” (That guy has bare tattoos.) It can also be an expression of disbelief similar to “no way!” (I just bought a new Corvette. [Your pal responds] Bare!)

rail: screw/have sex; this word alludes to a train engine driving into the tunnel of love, so to speak.

rando/random: formerly meaning “odd” or “occasional” (as in unexpected), this word now is used to mean…well, “odd”, but also “annoying”, “quirky”, or “strange”. It can also mean an acquaintance (you sort of know this person, but not really).

Some slang words nowadays do show true creativity — or maybe it’s just rando

twee: this was originally a British term, but the internet makes everything global now. The word is used to mean “cute”, “precious”, or “nauseatingly quaint”.

boi: this is a gender-neutral pronoun that combines “boy” and “girl”; in a similar fashion, “Latinx” makes the feminine word “Latina” (and the masculine “Latino”) gender-neutral, while “womxn” is a more inclusive version of “womyn” (which was itself created to demonstrate that a woman is more than just an extension of a man, but is instead her own person). Women who use the word womyn instead of womxn are sometimes accused of being “anti-trans” or “feminazis” (now there’s a loaded term).

meta: from a Greek word meaning “after” or “beyond”, this term is amusingly now used to mean “self-referential” or “about the thing itself”. So, a movie becomes “meta” when it is a movie about moviemakers making a movie; or like when you read an essay that’s a review of reviewers who review restaurants or plays, for example. Stephen King is meta because he loves to write books about writers who write books — particularly horror fiction, and he loves to mention his own previous work in his current work.

recrap: a creative remix of “recap” that means to sum up a discussion composed largely of useless bullshit.

periodt: an interesting word that means the absolute end of a discussion or a sentence.

Let’s recrap

Okay then, here are the rules for good slang, in no particular order:

  • Should be original, or at least a novel use of an existing word (still loving meta).
  • Contractions or truncations of regular words that mean the same thing as the original word do not make good slang (looking at you, bae).
  • Acronyms can go either way: some are good (MADD, SNAFU, UFO) and some not so much (PHAT, YOLO, MILF). The best acronyms form pronounceable words (SCUBA, NASCAR, RADAR, [Navy] SEALs) that have come to stand for the objects themselves.
  • Borrowing foreign slang and creating gender/race/cause neutral words is a good practice, if for no other reason than encouraging inclusiveness — which we need a lot more of in the world. Periodt.

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D.R. McElroy is a published author, writer, and copy editor with 15 years professional experience. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture and a Masters in Environmental Resources. A conservationist, naturalist, and environmental advocate, she spends her time writing nonfiction articles on a variety of topics, as well as writing books on contract for publishers. D.R. wants to build a community of people who love nature and wildlife as much as she does, and who want to help protect our resources for public use.

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