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80s Slang Terms & Phrases Glossary

by Jim H

The Ultimate List of 80s Slang and 80s Phrases

If you were alive in the 1980s, chances are you used a lot of 80s slang words. Surprisingly, some of the most popular 80s phrases actually originated much earlier in our history. But they found a resurgence in the 1980s and became synonymous with that decade.

We have comprised the ultimate list of 1980s slang terms along with their definition and use. So check them out and see how many of them you know and remember. Better yet, how many of them do you still use? We are totally psyched to read your righteous comments below. Word!

1980s Slang Terms and Phrase List


Airhead – Someone who lacks common sense and unable to grasp simple concepts.
Example: Jessica is such an airhead.

As if – A shorted phrase for “as if it were true” or “as if you were right. Mainly used as a lighthearted way to say yeah, right.
Example: Larry said he can do a 360 on his skateboard and I was like, as if.


Bad – Used opposite of its intended meaning. To indicate something is great or fantastic.
Example: Man, Eddie Van Halen is one bad guitar player.

Barf me out – Gross or Disgusting
Example: I am not eating that. Barf me out.

Bitchin – Something great.
Example: That’s a bitchin boom box.

Bite me – Similar to “Eat me” and used as a response to someone who said something disagreeable.
Example: You look like Tinker Bell with all that glitter on. Answer: Bite me!

Bodacious – Oustanding or unbelievably sexy.
Example: That teacher has some bodacious curves.

Bogus – Something that is fundamentally wrong or unfair.
Example: You were fired for being 15 minutes late? That is totally bogus.

Book – The need to get somewhere immediately.
Example: Dude, I can’t talk right now. I need to book home to get my bike.

80s slang words glossary.

Having a righteous boom box was essential in the 1980s.

Boom Box – A large portable music player.
Example: My boom box has a dual cassette and a CD player.  It’s totally fly.

Burned – A harsh outcome.
Example: Mrs. Chambers was pretty critical in grading your paper. You got burned.


Cheesy – Something that is formulaic, unbelievable or unintentionally silly.
Example: That love scene in the movie was totally cheesy.

Chill – To relax.
Example: Want to come over and chill for a while?

Cold – Something said or done that was mean-spirited or without regard to the victim.
Example: She broke up with you because you didn’t make the football team? Man, that’s cold.

Cool beans – Agreeable. Sounds good.
Example: I’ll come over after class. Answer: Cool beans.

Cowabunga – Satisfying and delightful. First used in the 1950s, but became popular again in the 1980s with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Example: Cowabunga! I got the high score!

Crib – Home or dwelling.
Example: I just moved into a new crib with a killer view.


Diss – To show disrespect.
Example: You were totally dissed by Dave at the party last night.

Don’t have a cow – Stop being worried, upset or anxious about something. It’s a term used in the 1960s but became a staple of 1980s lingo with its use by Bart Simpson in The Simpsons.
Example: Don’t have a cow, Jake. You will do just fine.

Dope – Excellent.  First used as an adjective in this context in 1981.
Example: That video is dope!

Dork – Someone who is inadvertently funny, but in an odd way.
Example: Amy was soo funny putting on her skates. She is such a dork.

Dude – Addressing someone to get their attention. Dudette is a female equivalent used less often.  This word first originated in the 1880s but became a regular part of American vocabulary since the 1960s.
Example: Dude, where are we going?

Duude – Woah or wow.
Example: My dad just bought me a brand new Firebird.  Answer: Duude!

Dufus – A polite way of saying someone is an idiot.
Example: Our dog can be such a dufus at times.

Duh – Used when someone says something that is obviously known. Similar to No sh*t, Sherlock.
Example: If you stay up all night studying, you will be very tired in class tomorrow. Answer: Duh!

Dweeb – Similar in use to the word dork, but specific to a nerdy person.
Example: Look at Nicholas dragging all his books in his backpack. What a dweeb!


Eat me – Used as a vindictive response when someone says something insulting.
Example: Sally, you look fat in those jeans. Answer: Eat me, Jenna!


Fly – Cool or hip.
Example: That’s one fly ass Members Only jacket

F*ck’n A – Outstanding or Absolutely.
Example: Did you ace the driver’s test? Answer: F*ck’n aye I did!


Gag me with a spoon – Something that is gross or obnoxious.
Example: He tried to kiss me and I was like, uggghh…gag me with a spoon!

Geek – A nerd or someone who is socially awkward.
Example: Jerry, quit being such a geek and come to the party.

Goober – Someone who is goofy and is playfully made fun of because of it.
Example: Sandy is such a goober, but we love her.

Goth – Male and females who like Goth music, wear all black clothing and makeup.
Example: I bet all the Goths are going to the Cure concert tonight.

Gnarly – Radical to the extreme.  Used to describe something great or horrendous.
Example: That scrape on your knee is gnarly.

Grill – Someone’s front teeth.
Example: Check out that chick’s grill. She looks like she could chew through cable wire.

Grody – Disgusting or repulsive. A bastardization of grotesque.
Example: School lunch was totally grody today.


Headbanger – Someone who listens to heavy metal. They usually have long hair and wear jeans, rock band t-shirts and/or leather and denim jackets.
Example: It’s not just Headbangers who love Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home.”

Heavy – To acknowledge something is very serious.
Example: Woah, that’s some heavy sh*t you’re reading there.

Hellacious – Can be used in a positive or negative way. Surprisingly good or unbearably bad.
Example: That was a hellacious homework assignment. It took me three hours to get it done.

Hello, McFly? – This phrase was made popular in the movie “Back to the Future”. It is used to address someone who has done or said something dumb or to get the attention of somebody who is spaced out.
Example: I can’t believe you forgot there was school today. Hello, McFly?!

Heinous – Bad or disgusting.
Example: What kind of heinous music aree you listening to?

Homey – Similar to dude, but also used as a term of endearment addressing a friend.
Example: Me and my homey are gonna bounce.

Hood – Short for a neighborhood.
Example: Don’t be seen wearing that in my hood.



Jonesing – Having a craving or a need for something.
Example: Man, I haven’t had a break since this morning. I’m jonesing for a cigarette.


Killer – Something that is exceptional or appreciated very much.
Example: This new Def Leppard album is killer!


Lame – Weak or underwhelming.
Example: That Howard the Duck movie was so lame.

Later Days and Better Lays – A phrase used to say goodbye and good luck.
Example. Take care, man. Later days and better lays.

Legit – Short for legitimate. The real deal or looking sharp.
Example: This swatch is legit.

Like – No real meaning. Its use is like “um” or “and” when formulating a new thought.
Example: I was like what are you doing and he like looked and me and said like I’m trying to kiss you.


Mallrat – Someone who likes to hang out at the mall. Also called Mall Maggots.
Example: Jimmy, can you tell all those Mallrats to quit hanging out in front of our store entrance.

Moshing – A style of dancing for thrash metal or very aggressive music. It became popular around 1980. It’s usually done in a “mosh pit” and involves full body contact with other moshers.


Narc – A tattletale. Someone who divulges a secret.
Example: I can’t believe you told the teacher I cheated. You’re such a narc.

No sh*t, Sherlock – A response to something someone said that was already obvious to everyone.
Example: If you get caught skipping again, your dad is gonna be pissed. Answer: No sh*t, Sherlock.

Not even – Denying a statement as being true.
Example: Jesse told me he caught you singing “Like a Virgin” in the shower. Answer: Not even!



Phat – A slang term first coined in the 1950s, but gained a resurgence in the mid-1980s. Used to describe something that is desirable
Example: That’s a phat jacket!

Psych (Sike) – To indicate what was just said is false.
Example: I got that money I owe you. Psych!

Psyched – Really excited about something. Its use is similar to “Stoked” below.
Example: I’m so psyched about seeing AC/DC next week!

Poser – A wannabe who doesn’t quite make the cut.
Example: Did you see how Billy the geek grew his hair all out and is trying to hang out with the headbangers? He is such a poser.



Radical or “Rad” – Extremely cool (sometimes shortened to “Rad”).
Example: You look totally rad with that new haircut.

Ralph – To vomit.
Example:  He drank that cod liver oil and ralphed all over the place.

Righteous – Perfect in every way.
Example: My buddy and I saw Rambo last night. It was so righteous!


Skillz – Having great abilities in a particular task.
Example: Did you hear that homey rap? he got some skillz.

Slam Dancing – A style of dancing done by punk rockers where they jump around as well as punch and kick the air,  It is similar to moshing.

Smooth move, ex-lax – Somebody who screwed something up or failed at completing something correctly.
Example: I brought my favorite tape, but I forgot my walkman.  Answer: Smooth, move, ex-lax.

Spaz – Someone who is hyperactive and easily excitable.
Example: Will you sit still. You’re such a spaz!

Stoked – Really excited or highly enthusiastic about something.
Example:  Dude, I am so stoked about this three day weekend!


Take a Chill Pill: Said to someone who is overly nervous or excited and should relax.
Example:  Dude, you’ve been hounding me all day about borrowing my car,  Take a chill pill.

Totally – To emphasize the importance of something.
Example: That camaro is totally awesome.

Tubular – A term first used in the 1970s by surfers,  but used widely in the 1980s to indicate something is great or awesome.
Example:  Wow, that skateboard design is totally tubular!




Whateva – Sarcastic way of saying “Yeah, okay.”
Example:  Julie, if you don’t finish your homework you can’t go the movies. Answer: Whateva!

Where’s the beef? – Wendy’s Hamburger commercials coined this phrase in 1983.  The term went viral and used to address something that is lacking in substance.
Example:  I don’t see anything in your six-page report proving your point.  Where’s the beef?

Wigging out – Really paranoid to the point of being freaked out.
Example: Bobby saw the police car and just totally started wigging out.

Word – Used to signify something is well stated or that something is true.
Example:  These sparkomatic car speakers are phat!  Answer:  Word!  Example #2: I heard Tommy just got expelled.  Answer:  Word?



Yeah, that’s the ticket – A phrase made popular by John Lovitz on Saturday Night Live while playing the character Tommy Flanagan, the Pathological Liar. This phrase is usually said immediately after telling a lie – even when it’s blatantly obvious that what was said is not true.

Yo – This slang term originated in Philadelphia as a bastardization of the Neapolitan word “uaglio” which means young man.  Yo is used to address someone or to get their attention.
Example: Yo, what’s the deal with Marsha?

Your momma – Used to insult someone after an insult is directed at you.
Example: Your momma is so fat when she hauls ass she makes two trips.  Example #2: You’re a dummy.  Answer: Your momma.


Did we miss any? Post your comment below. If it’s a good one we’ll add it to the list!

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