The totally bodacious language of my youth


Yours truly was never the coolest kid on the block. Overweight, asthmatic boys rarely are – particularly those who aren’t wearing hip clothing or the right trainers.
However, the way in which you spoke to your mates back in the Eighties was at least a way of gaining a modicum of integrity and gave you a sense of place and belonging.
These days, according to my 16-year-old nephew, the words ‘gay’ and ‘sick’ mean entirely different things to the younger generation.
Don’t ask me what.
As is still the case, in my youth, the evolution of language was very often American-influenced and driven by two things: a) TV and movies or b) advancements in technology.
My A to Z list of slang certainly isn’t definitive (for one thing, I’ve omitted the swear words) but it helped me to survive high school and A-Levels.
What’s more, I am delighted to say that some of the words and phrases I picked up in the playground at Holden Lane High or in the common room at Sixth Form College are still in use today…
*Ace: Excellent. Something which is very cool or good.
*Airhead: An idiot. A moron. A scatter-brain. Personally, I prefer ‘space cadet’.
*Awesome: Well, duh.
*Bad: This is an example of us children of the Eighties being contrary. It actually means something which is excellent or, erm, awesome.
*Barf: To be sick.
*Bodacious: A geek’s way of saying that a girl or woman is beautiful. Usually prefixed by the word ‘totally’. I don’t think I ever actually said it but I had a mate who used the word and Keanu Reeves certainly did in the hit movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
*Bogus: The opposite of excellent. Unbelievable. Not good. I refer you once again to Bill and Ted.
*Cheesy: Corny. Uncool. In poor taste. Still perfectly valid in 2011.
*Chill: To hang out with your mates. To relax. Apparently, today they say ‘chillax’ or ‘chillin’ but I’m still claiming this word for my 80s dictionary.
*Dude: A bloke. A mate. Not necessarily one wearing a Stetson or packing a Colt .45.
*Dweeb: Someone who isn’t in with the ‘in-crowd’. A geek. A nerd. Basically, me.
*Gross: Something so unpleasant it makes you feel sick. Although you rarely were.
*Hacker: A computer genius. Back in my day there was only one – a fictional character from the movie War Games. Nowadays they are 10 a penny and one of them is probably downloading all your personal information from Facebook as you read this.
*Head rush: A big thrill. Like going on the Corkscrew at Alton Towers.
*Mint: Another way of saying something is ‘ace’. A personal favourite of mine which deserves to be brought back.
*Networking: A horrible word, still in common parlance today, which used to mean meeting well-connected people at parties. Nowadays it means being false at nauseating business dos. (See also Yuppie)
*Sucks: A way to express disapproval of someone or something. For example, ‘He sucks’ or ‘that sucks’. Still occasionally heard today among 35 to 45-year-olds who ought to know better.
*Veg: Another way of saying you are relaxing or taking it easy. For example ‘I’m just vegging’. What I did when mum thought I was upstairs revising for my English Literature A-Level exam.
*Wicked: Fantastic. The equivalent of ‘ace’ or ‘mint’. Popularised even more in the UK by comedian Lenny Henry through his character DJ Delbert Wilkins.
*Yuppie: A young, upwardly mobile professional person. A derogatory term generally used to describe suit-wearing high-flyers with mobile telephones the size of house bricks. Someone once called me a Yuppie **** when my on-call work mobile went off in Heath’s in Hanley. I’ve never been so embarrassed in all my life.

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