Words of the 70s

Dream on

Remember that annoying classmate . . . prattling on about how he was going to be the next big disco star. Ha! Dream on.

This phrase became especially popular once Aerosmith brought it into the limelight in 1973 with their similarly titled song. The song may have been about holding on to unwavering hope, but dream on was the response to anything totally unlikely to happen.

Right on

In the 70s, if you were in agreement with something, you definitely said right onThe phrase was used as far back as the early 1900s, heard in African-American folk music, but the public was saying it far and wide by the ‘70s.

Catch you on the flipside

Catch you on the flipside, it’s been real, check you later, and catch you on the rebound—the ‘70s were all about parting ways with hip style.

Flipside alludes to the B-side of vinyl records, a common phrase propounded by radio DJs of the time. It could also have been inspired by the continued efforts in space travel, meaning "going one turn around the moon."

Boogie

Whether it be disco, funk, or even psychedelic rock, if the music moved you, you’d definitely boogie (or get down) on the dance floor.

The boogie-woogie was a blues music style from the ‘20s. By the 1960s, rock groups were appropriating the term for themselves. In the ‘70s, people went to clubs to boogie all night. In fact, they boogie oogie oogied til they just couldn’t boogie no more.

So. Much. Boogie.

May the force be with you

The Star Wars frenzy of recent years can shroud the fact that George Lucas’s iconic galactic-space epic made its debut in 1977.

Since then, the saga has been seamlessly forcing its way into all facets of pop culture, from Disneyland to Stranger Things. Even the young protagonist Auggie of the contemporary children’s book Wonder knows a thing or two about Jedi training (and growing their braids). The force has been strong with most of us since the '70s, though.

Brick house

Popularized by the Commodores’ song of the same name, brick house was instant slang for a curvaceous, attractive woman—it had something to do with how well-stacked . . . you catch the drift.

It’s not surprising that the term has lost steam now, with growing forces of women demanding equal treatment in the workforce and fighting against sexual harassment in all forums.

It’s almost as if the second-wave of the feminist movement in the 1970s never went away, it just evolved.

Jive turkey

Cool cats were around since the ‘60s. But, if you were trying way too hard to be a cool cat and didn’t really know a thing about the hip scene . . . you’d quickly be known as a jive turkey.

Jive carries multiple meanings, and is another one originally rooted in the African-American jazz music scene. Over time however, it began to be associated with meaningless banter. And, being called a turkey has never been a compliment, so the combination of the two really did make one out to be pretty damn foolish.

Dy-no-mite!

The 70’s heralded a rise in (some) recognition of black culture on TV.

Good Times was the first African-American sitcom introducing a character, J.J. Evans, who made a bang right from the start due to his infamous catchphrase, Dy-no-mite! The phrase caught on with the viewing public and soon became part of the vernacular (to express intense excitement).

Unfortunately, it fizzled out once the show ended in 1979.

Cool beans

Sure, this expression met its heyday in the ‘80s from the television show Full House, but long before DJ Tanner was spouting out how chill her legumes were, cool beans was a popular fixture in ‘70s lingo to express one’s delight and agreement.

Curiously, the phrase originates from a nineteenth-century idiom, some beans: “By golly! You're some beans in a bar-fight.” Furthermore, that phrase may itself have sprouted from an even older version, full of beans, which was horse-racing slang for a spry horse.

These beans may go back very far, but they’ve certainly lost their swagger now. Using cool beans these days will usually just annoy people.

Do me a solid

If you wanted someone to cover for you while you snuck out of school or while you were in search of a doobie, you’d be asking them to do you a solid.

When the word solid became a replacement for favor is unclear. It might have been from an obvious route, when people formerly asked, “please do me a solid favor.”

It could also be related to drug use, of which the ‘70s were no stranger to­—solid referring to a dose of some drug of choice.

The skinny

No, we don’t mean jeans, since bell bottoms were all the rage in the 70s. The skinny was gossip, gossip, gossip. The juicier, the better.

While there’s no concrete evidence for where the term came from, one of the most convincing theories is that getting the skinny was like getting to the skin, the bone, the barest of the bare of the issue.

And, with all those halter tops and hot pants, getting to the skin was pretty easy. Getting the skinny on someone else, even better.

Ten-four

You can thank the trucker community for this affirmative response. With the rise in popularity of the CB radio (due to the decreasing cost of the radio, increasing cost of oil, and the ability to inform fellow travelers where fuel could be had), the general public became acquainted with ten-four, a term used as confirmation or affirmation.

Trucker talk also gifted us with other popular gems including Do you copy?, What’s your twenty?, and shoot the breeze. 

Burn!

Thank you, Kelso (from "That 70's Show"), for popularizing burn!—an exclamation used after throwing down the ultimate putdown. Whenever you lay down an insult for which there really is no comeback, it's best to let people know their bridge back out of shame has been burned to a crisp.

How it evolved into a statement of epic proportion is up for debate, but the association of the physical sting of an actual burn with the metaphorical sting of absolute embarrassment seemed to ignite in the '70s.

Copacetic

When things were better than "okay" and more genuine than "fine," you'd aptly describe them as copacetic, a cordial affirmative that indicates everything is just as it should be, perfectly satisfactory.

For a word whose meaning has such a positively simple vibe, its origin is nothing short of baffling. Many purport that it derives from the African-American community in the early 1900s (made famous by tap-dancer and performer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson), while others claim it has roots in Hebrew, Native American Chinook, or French.

Whatever its pedigree, the term still makes the rounds in pop culture.

Did you think hippies said "copacetic"?

If you thought hippies coined the word copacetic, then you need to buff up on our Words of the 60s! Far out.

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