Millennials and even Gen-Xers tend to make fun of Boomers for not knowing the slang of today ("Ghosting? Do you mean paranormal investigation?"). But the younger generations tend to forget that Boomers had a slang all their own, much of it associated with the hippies and flower children of the 1960s, and some of it with the Beatniks, who were the early Boomers of the 1950s.
Some of these expressions are evergreen, like "cool" or "square." Others, like "groovy," are showing their age. And some, like "quail hunting," you might not recognize at all. But Boomer slang helped the young of the '60s speak in a code that their parents and other authority figures couldn't follow ... which was important, because rarely has there been a generation gap so wide as that between the conservative "Silent Generation" that came of age in the 1940s, and their children, who sought to change the world in the 1960s.
Whatever generation you were born in, you're likely to know some of these classic phrases ... but others might stump you. Do you know what was measured in "lids" and "keys"? Do you know your "bread" from your "threads"? Don't be a drag -- come and test your knowledge of Boomer-speak with our quiz!
This one probably wasn't too difficult to guess. "Threads" is still used to mean clothing.
This was sometimes done as a political protest. This makes us think of Mel Gibson's line in "Signs": "I know you're trying to make a point. I just don't know what it is."
"Crash" means to go to bed and promptly go to sleep. Because of this, it's also a term for staying at somebody's house, because the key part of being a guest is that you're sleeping there, not just dropping by for a visit.
Nowadays, "gas" has unpleasant associations. But back in the day, it meant to have a good time.
The classic term was "bumming a smoke." The latter, of course, meant "cigarette."
"Bread" is one of many slang terms for money. "Argent," meaning "silver," is French slang for money.
"Thongs" were what millennials now call "flip flops" and Hawaiians call "rubber slippers." Meanwhile, a "thong" now is a very brief undergarment, worn under revealing clothing so as to not make a visible panty line.
To "toke" was to have a drag on a marijuana cigarette. The line above is, of course, from the song, "The Joker," by The Steve Miller Band.
"Chronic" arose in the late-Generation-X to early-millennial days. It started out to mean strong marijuana, but has become more general.
Apparently this passed for great fun in the '60s. (Also, on behalf of our Boomer forebears, we apologize to all Chinese people about the name).
"Cop a feel" meant to touch a girl in a sneaky way, without literal or implied consent. Well, *usually* the aggressor was a guy and the recipient a girl, but we suppose there were exceptions!
Our favorite use of this word comes from Stephen King, who candidly said in an interview, "I was a head in the '60s. I don't mean I was ahead of everybody else; I was a HEAD."
"Bug out" got its start as military slang and spread to the general population. Nowadays you also hear "bang out," from the military term to eject from a fighter jet or flee a situation going downhill.
"Cat" just meant a male person. But it was strongly implied that he was young and hip.
"You dig?" was the classic way to ask someone if they followed what you were saying. But you could also say that you "dug" the philosophy of Epicurus.
For maximum effect, you'd draw a square in the air with two fingers. It was the Boomer equivalent of holding a thumb-and-forefinger "L" in front of your forehead.
If Bart Simpson had been a Boomer, he might have said, "Don't flip your wig, man!" (Instead, of course, of "Don't have a cow!")
"Boss" was still around in the early 1980s, as evidenced by the cult novel, "The Grounding of Group Six." One character decides he has met a "boss chick" at boarding school.
Of course, you can't really watch submarines race (if there was such a thing), they're underwater. So inviting a girl to the submarine races was a way to invite her to park by a body of water and make out.
To hold onto a marijuana cigarette long after you should have passed it on was called "bogarting." Why? Because in his movies, Humphrey Bogart often had a cigarette clamped in his mouth, for long periods of time.
This expression was immortalized by the Commodores song of the same name. "Thirty-six, twenty-four, thirty-six/What a winning hand!"
"Coming down" is the classic expression for the feeling of drugs wearing off. It's the equivalent of "sobering up" for alcohol.
Boomer fun: Yell, "Hey, chrome dome!" at your bald principal or teacher and then hide in the bushes. (Seriously, had fun not been invented yet?)
In the 1960s, most drug users believed that group use led to more profound experiences. The term "acid test" was immortalized by the book, "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test."
"Hangups" were the hallmark of the older generation. The holy grail of enlightenment was to have no hangups at all.
Your parents and other authority figures were uptight. You and your friends were "laid back."
The full name of the show was "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In." Its name was a homage to the "be-ins" and "love-ins" of the '60s.
The term "pusher" is slightly derogatory, suggesting the person influences others to use drugs, getting people turned on to them, in order to ensure regular "customers." It's mostly been replaced by the less loaded term "dealer."
A roach was the very butt of a joint, smoked down to the end. You could re-light one if you were desperate.
"Key" was simply short for "kilogram" (which is, frankly, a lot of any kind of drug). A "lid" was an ounce bag of marijuana.
We kind of like "quail" as a synonym for "females." More dignified than "chicks," at least!
Naturally, this term was adopted by parents and teachers trying to get through to their kids. Example: "You know I'm always available if you want to rap, Johnny."
Synchronicity is a relationship between two seemingly unrelated things, or two people having the same thought at the same time without contact with each other. It's hard to explain succinctly, but you can find good summaries of Jung's idea online.
You don't hear this one much anymore. It's been replaced by "large" or "a K."
Yup, "pearl diving" sounds like an exotic sex practice, but it was just washing dishes for pay. At least, according to the Beatniks, those early forerunners of the hippies.