Like fashion, slang changes with the times. A word that seems current one year can feel wildly dated as time goes on. (Just think of how weird it would be to say something is “da bomb” in 2017.) With the help of the Oxford English Dictionary and a few other archival resources, we’ve rounded up the slang words that defined every year. Though some words really reflect their time period, you might be surprised by how old some of our go-to slang actually is.
The money-flush times of the Roaring Twenties gave rise to this term for a woman who is interested in a man, but only for his money. It came from the appropriately-titled “Mantrap” by Sinclair Lewis.
1927: It Girl
Hollywood couldn’t get enough of Clara Bow, so much that she was branded the “It Girl.”
It’s hooey, it’s baloney. This word can be traced back to an article in The Saturday Evening Post, which referred to something phony as being a bunch of baloney.
1929: It Boy
A couple of years after the “It Girl” came Hollywood’s “It Boy,” which referred to basically any handsome young guy.
Instead of being “bookish,” anyone who took an interest in reading was “booksy.”
This word perfectly articulated the elegant-but-also-flashy style of Hollywood starlets and heartbreakers alike of the early part of this decade.
The word “burp” almost replicates the noise one makes when belching.
1933: Beered Up
Nineteen thirty-three would be the year that Prohibition would be repealed, an occasion that was robustly celebrated.
This word originated from the burgeoning comedy scene, where a line that delivered a big laugh was a “boffo.”
This could refer to your grandpa or any older person you felt like insulting.