Do You Remember This Fly 90s Slang?

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hella cool

The 90s might be in the past, but that doesn’t mean the language from that decade needs to be.

The years between 1990 and 1999 gave us the words of quotable movies like Clueless and Titanic. They popularized the acronym TGIF ("thank God it's Friday"), when we all ran home to watch a solid block of quality TV programming on ABC. And of course, the '90s gave us marketing slogans such as wazzzzzap that we haven't yet forgotten.

Sure, some of the catchphrases aren't as durable as others (Booyah! and Not! come to mind), but there are a few we’d like to keep around. If you're yearning for the days of butterfly clips and Tamagotchi, try out these words from the '90s for those days when you’re feeling especially fly.


WATCH: Slang Every 90s Kid Knows

dip

The word dip is equivalent to the word leave. Instead of saying "you have to go" or "you need to leave," it’s pimpin' to say "you have to dip."

This dip is not to be confused, of course, with "Da' Dip" by Freak Nasty. Nineties kids will remember this song, which became hit in 1997 and included the chorus: "I put my hand upon your hip / When I dip, you dip, we dip." This dip was a dance move ... and likely euphemism.

crunk

When something is crunk, it's "fun," and to be crunk is to be "excited, full of energy." The slang might be a blend of crazy and drunk.

Whether you are amped about an upcoming concert or a new pair of shoes, using the word crunk to describe your enthusiasm will surely show the hype.

The word didn't disappear after the '90s either. In 2001, singer Mary J. Blige included it in her song "Family Affair." The hit single for Blige opens with the lyric: "Let's get it crunk upon."

Crunk is also the name of a genre of Southern hip-hop featuring heavy bass and call-and-response vocals.

wazzzzzap

Back in the '90s, everyone was greeting each other not with a simple hi but hilariously drawn-out wazzaap. It’s a playful word to use when you’re with someone you know well, and so much more fun to say than What's up?

This one originated from a Budweiser commercial that first aired during Monday Night Football in 1999. The ad was hit, and had us all sticking out tongues and wazzup-ing each other.

It's not exactly the first time What's up got the slang treatment, though. The form wassup has been recorded back to the early 1900s!

phat

Remember trying to explain this one to your parents? No, phat doesn’t mean fat. It means something is hot (meaning, "attractive") and tempting. It can be used to describe someone’s appearance, but many people used this word to describe all things that were wonderful, terrific, awesome.

The term may have spread in the 1990s, but it's recorded as early as the 1960s!

pimpin’

The word pimpin’ has a few different meanings. It can refer to a ladies' man who has more than one female in his life, or it can be used to describe a guy’s super stylish wardrobe. Pimpin’ can also be used when the word cool just won’t do—of course, it can also be crazy inappropriate (like in the workplace), so judge your company wisely.

Of course, if you want to really live large, you can pull out your old Jay-Z album from 1999 and blast some "Big Pimpin'."

Oh, snap!

After the '90s, sassily snapping your fingers while yelling "Oh, snap!" went out of style to express surprise or frustration.

Sadly, it seems American culture hasn't been all that interested in syncopated snapping since Lil Jon's "Snap Yo Fingers" charted back in 2006. If you want to bring this one back (but aren't sassy enough to pull it off), try paying a compliment to a friend by giving them snaps instead.

stylin’

The word stylin’ is best used when you want to tell someone how good they look. Is their hair on point (meaning "perfect," not necessarily spiked)? Or, maybe they have a new outfit you adore? Either way, they’re totally stylin, and you should be the one to tell them.

trippin'

Trippin’ is a great way to describe someone who is freaking out. Sure, they could have a reason to be upset or mad, but they are also completely trippin’ over the situation. This one could easily have come from the version of the word trippin' that refers to drug use. Drugs can definitely make you act ... a little trippy.

wacked

Did your friend steal something? Did your date just check out another woman in front of you? Oh yeah, these peeps are wacked (or whacked, "acting crazy"). Don't confuse this dope '90s word with wack, which means "lame" or "stupid" (though that word is also seemingly acceptable in these situations).

tattletale

Tattletale dates back to the '90s—the 1890s, actually. For whatever reason, the phrase experienced a resurgence with elementary school students in the 1980s and 90s.

Today, it's sometimes used interchangeably with snitch, although that word can have much darker connotations—and older roots, recorded in the late 1700s.

dibs

When did we stop calling dibs ("rights, claims") on everything? Dibs on the front seat. Dibs on the last piece of ice-cream cake. (Seriously, dibs.)

Where did this strange word come from? It may have originated from dibstone, which was part of an old children's game similar to modern-day jacks.

Alrighty then!

Comedian Jim Carrey popularized alrighty then during his rise to fame in the 1990s. Carrey played Ace Ventura in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, helping vault this catchphrase into the lexicon. It's the ultimate sarcastic reply, even when compared to other legendary '90s clapbacks like talk to the hand or whatever.

props

Props, dude! Apparently, this term is a shortened version of the word propers, as in giving someone their proper respect. So, giving props is a fly way of complimenting someone on a proper job well-done. How supportive!

Speaking of respect, propers is first recorded in Aretha Franklin's 1967 "Respect": "I'm about to give you all of my money /
And all I'm askin' in return, honey / Is to give me my propers when you get home."

home skillet

Home skillet is the perfect example of wacky '90s slang. But, why compare a dear pal to a skillet? This slang term is apparently a variation on homeboy, homie, and home slice. Skillet, as recorded in Zora Neale Hurston the 1940s, was slang for a Black person.

You've got mail!

OK, we're cheating a little bit: You've got mail was first heard in 1989, but it enjoyed major popularity throughout the '90s.

Sure, AOL isn't exactly a frontrunner these days, but you've got mail remains a legendary throwback in the tech world. Plus, it was exciting to hear when you signed on (probably a similar feeling to hearing a voice message on the answering machine in the '80s).

thug life

Especially in Black hip-hop culture, thug life refers to a determined and resilient attitude to succeed in life in spite of racism and injustice.

Rapper (and activist) Tupac Shakur is revered for having lived and breathed the thug life. But, did you know this menacing phrase is actually an acronym protesting systematic oppression? According to Shakur, thug life stands for: The Hate U Give—Little Infants F***s Everybody.

Tupac's acronym still forms, for many, the core philosophy of thug life: Children are the future, and so filling children’s minds with hate, raising them in an oppressive political system, and asking them to accept horrendous things like racism, sexism, and police brutality, has a snowball effect, which eventually destroys life for everyone, even the oppressors.

Make 'em say uhh!

Hip-hop mogul Master P doesn't get enough credit for his contributions to the English language. After all, he's the rapper who had us joyously shouting out Uhh! (sometimes Ugh!) in the 90s. Master P also gave us the delightful catchphrase 'bout it 'bout it, which he used as an expression of commitment to his roots.

yada, yada, yada

No '90s list would be complete without a Seinfeld reference. Of course, yada-yada-yada is Seinfeld's version of blah-blah-blah. Like blah-blah-blah, it's a way of skipping over the boring (or explicit) parts of a story in order to get to the main point. Also like blah, yada is probably just an expressive.

Words from the '80s

Want to continue your journey down memory lane with words from another decade? Check out Words of the '80s: Totally Tubular Slang, dude.

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