29 Radical 80’s Slang Terms We Need to Bring Back

Today I’m excited to share with you my favorite 80’s slang terms we need to bring back! First, you should know, if it has to do with the 80’s, you can sign me up! Fashion? Check. Music? Check. Lingo? Double check. In fact, all too often, I hear that joke from my dad, “The 1980s called, they want their style back.” But they can’t have it — I’m keeping it. LOL!

80's Slang Terms defined with helpful conversational examples

Obviously, I adore everything eighties and 80’s slang terms are no exception. If your equally psyched to start amping up your 80’s vocabulary then you’ve come to the right place. Below I have defined over 29 popular 80’s slang phrases and even included some helpful examples so you can use them correctly in conversation. By the way, a few terms from the sixties and seventies worked their way onto my list, and they’re cool enough we just let them stay. Neato!

80’s Slang TERMS You Should Know

Rad & Radical

I thought this would be a great one to start with, since I used radical as a superlative in the title of this post HAHA! It’s clearly my favorite of these 80’s slang terms, and the one I say most commonly. ‘Radical’ and ‘Rad’ basically mean awesome, outrageous and cool (I don’t mean the temperature). If “cool” is sounding a bit tired and old, this word would be an excellent replacement. 

Gag Me With a Spoon

As long as your friends don’t take this one too literally, ‘Gag me with a spoon’ is a hilarious catchphrase that I’d love to see on a t-shirt. If you haven’t already deciphered it, gag me with a spoon is used as an expression of annoyance or disgust. Pretty much saying you would rather be gagged with a spoon, than do something or deal with a certain situation. 

EXAMPLE
David: Heads up, Joshua is going to ask you to prom.
Audrey: Ugh! Gag me with a spoon! I’m not going with him.

Betty

I love this one, especially with Taylor Swift’s song reminding me of it whenever I listen to her Folklore album. A Betty is someone you think is pretty, fabulous or a babe, usually a girl or a woman.

EXAMPLE
Joshua: I’m planning to ask Audrey to prom.
David: You? I don’t know if she’ll go for that man, she’s a real Betty.

(P.S. Joshua, I don’t know if confiding in David is such a good idea, he seems to spill the beans pretty easily. LOL!)

Bad

Now, hold on! This one’s not as simple as it seems. Bad isn’t bad, it’s good. Really. Like saying ‘sick’. I know this is confusing but trust me, it’s really a phrase coined from the 80’s. It’s fun to use and you totally sound like a genuine 80’s baby. “Wow! That’s so bad!”

The Princess Bride Meme: You Keep Using That Word. I don not think it means what you think it means.

Epic

This is another word I use often. Though classically the word means a story or poem, usually about an ancient journey of sorts, that’s not the definition I’m referring to. I use epic to describe something exciting, awesome and fun. Next time you go to say “That’s so awesome!!” you could stop, consider not sounding like an average American teen, and instead sound like an average 1980s American teen and say, “That’s so epic!!”

How to host a Bubblegum blowing contest
Here’s how to Host a Bubblegum Blowing Contest via PagingSupermom.com

Psychedelic

This word can sometimes be associated with drugs, specifically LSD, so let me start with a warning, if someone offers you a “Psychedelic Trip,” it’s in your best interest to turn them down. Given the drug connection, I’m almost certain this word really comes to us from the 1970s but it was still very commonly used in the 1980s, and I would argue should still be in wide use today. Psychedelic is a fun mouthful to add to your vocabulary. Disconnected from drugs, this word can be summed up to mean, “Cool,” but it’s a way cooler way to say cool. 

Trippin’

I don’t mean trippin’ as in stumbling over your shoe laces and causing a stubbed toe, no indeed. I mean another 80’s slang term derived from drugs. Here again let’s forget the drugs and keep the word. Trippin’ (‘tripping’ works too, but I like the twang that comes from dropping the ‘g’) is a term you would use to tell someone they are wrong or crazy. Usually an opinionated term not a factual one. As if to say the statement they’ve made sounds like it’s coming from someone who’s high. 

EXAMPLE
Jane: Taylor has awesome music.
Kanye: You’re trippin’. Beyonce is way better.
Jane: I-I never said Beyonce was bad…

Bite Me

This one is fun. Put simply “bite me” is a threat. If someone’s trying to mess with you or get up in your face, ‘Bite me’ is one way to tell them to back off or there will be trouble. I mean, what psycho would tell you to bite them?? JKJK But really, if you want to tell someone to leave you alone, tell them to bite you.

Bodacious

This one might sound a little weird at first, and it is LOL! If you add this 80’s slang term to your personal dictionary, you can use it to describe someone attractive, bold, or gutsy. It’s often combined with ‘babe’ making the phrase ‘bodacious babe’.

EXAMPLE
Ted: Your stepmom is a bodacious babe!
Bill: Shut up Ted!

Totally Tubular

This one is so, classically, 80’s! I was first introduced to ‘Totally Tubular’ at a summer camp I attended several years back. The leaders put on a skit where they dressed as bodacious babes and dealt with a very compromising situation — one of them didn’t have enough Aqua Net for the school dance they were attending! Don’t worry, the others had emergency hairspray cans, thank heavens. Totally tubular is an expression they used to describe something fabulous, neat, or exciting. 

Dudette

I don’t think this one needs much explanation. ‘Dudette’ is the unofficial-official female form of ‘Dude’. All I know, it was the nickname I was given by the kids who sat at my table in 2nd grade. I was pretty stinking cool, obvy.

Hella

Some may say this is a 90’s phrase, to which I say “If you were a kid in the 80’s chances are you were a kid in the 90’s too.” So I’m counting it — bite me! Hella is slang for ‘really.’ If you want an example, give this song a listen.

What’s Your Damage

Why are you acting out? Who hurt you? What’s your problem? These are all appropriate synonyms for “What’s your damage” but the authentic 80’s one is my favorite. I dare you to use this in your next argument. If they appreciate it, you should really try and make up, they’re clearly worth keeping if they appreciate good 80’s slangs.

Barf Me Out

Barf me out or barf out is, believe or not, less about being disgusted (although it can be used for that) and more about freaking out or having a surge of nerves. Your mom might “barf out” if you get home way after curfew. More often than not “barf out” is used for “freak out” and “barf me out” is used as a sign of contempt and disgust.

EXAMPLE A
Lucy: I nearly barfed out when the elevator stopped moving for a second.
EXAMPLE B
Alice: There are only two waitresses working right now? Barf me out!

No Duh

If you’ve never heard the phrase “No duh” then you… don’t have sassy friends. Good on you! I, however, have heard this phrase a lot. I guess I am slow to get the joke LOL! If you don’t know it already, “No Duh” means ‘Obviously’ or the common, shortened ‘Duh’. Enjoy the new sass. You’re welcome.

Choice

Have you heard the recently coined phrase ‘On fleek’ as in “Your eyebrows are on fleek today!”? Choice is the 80’s slang for fleek. If your buddy’s wearing a super sleek, on fleek, leather jacket, be sure to tell ‘em they’re looking ‘choice.’ 

Chill Pill

The origins of this phrase are a bit murky, but the general consensus seems to be that it was coined in the early 80’s, when ADHD was first becoming recognized and medication for it was being tested. They were unofficially called chill pills since they were taken to calm hyperactive people, and even if you didn’t have ADHD you might be advised to “take a chill pill” if you were being a spaz.

Gnarly

Though ‘Gnarly’ was first coined in the 1970s, kids were still saying it in the 80’s… at least so I’ve been told, I wasn’t around then to see it myself. ‘Gnarly‘ pretty much means ‘sick’ and ‘cool’ maybe even ‘choice’ *wink wink*. 

Grody

Some of the phrases on this list have been lost with time and aren’t used much anymore, but my 80’s baby parents still use this one fairly often. Just by the sound of it, I’m sure you can tell what it means, but I’m going to define it anyway. ‘Grody‘ is very much an expression of distaste. ‘Grody’ is like the totally tubular twin brother to ‘Gross’.

Bounce

To get you in the mood for this one here’s this song. To bounce is to go. Kinda like the millennial “I’ve gotta dip” saying “I’ve gotta bounce” means “I’ve gotta go.”

Spaz & Spazoid

This word is commonly used to describe me, though I can’t seem to understand, why?! Have you ever had a muscle spasm? A spazoid is a human embodiment of a muscle spasm. Someone who is always bouncing off the walls, and spastic.

Bogus

Lies! Blasphemy! Bull crap! Bogus! ‘Bogus’ means something that’s ridiculous and usually far from what is, or should be, the truth. 

EXAMPLE
Car Salesman: 49,400 dolla-
Customer: That’s a bogus price for a car!!

Wastoid

I like this one LOL! A wastoid is someone who is stupid, and feels worthless. A gossipy term one might use to describe someone who is not going anywhere with their life. Kinda like an airhead or ditz, but less diva and more mooch. 

Zeek

We all know the word geek, commonly confused with ‘nerd’ and ‘dork’ (don’t say that to a geek though, they might barf out.), but do we all know ‘zeek’? Geeks are stereo-typically unattractive, and socially inept, (although I know for a fact that this is merely a stereotype because I’m passionate about many obscure, geeky subjects) and a zeek is the best kind of geek. When someone is still really geeky in personality, but are actually attractive, fun, or pretty, one might call them a zeek.  Like, I’m so, totally marrying a zeek!

As If

Have you ever seen Clueless? My mom insists that I clarify this is a 90’s not an 80’s movie, but I say close enough! If you haven’t seen this flick, do yourself a favor and watch it. If you have, you’re familiar with, “As if”. It is a sassy synonym for “yeah right” or “no way,” and it’s my favorite to use when channeling my inner valley girl.

Fresh

Fresh Prince of Bel-air, anyone? Fresh is cool. Fresh is clean. Fresh is new and exciting. Fresh is how your mouth feels after a Wintergreen Altoid. ‘Nuff said.

Neato

If you are, or have spoken with a teenager in 2020, you’ve likely heard the phrase ‘lit’ (I guess each generation has its own ode to drugs) If you haven’t, ‘lit’ is just another way to say awesome or cool. ‘Neato’ is as well. Technically this term’s origins date back to the late sixties, but we like it anyway LOL!

Dipstick

This right here, is a fantastic insult. I’m pretty lost on the origins of this one, not sure why the thingy used to check oil in your car became a cut down. As slang, a dipstick is an idiot or a nimrod. Keep that word in mind, it may come in handy later in life.

Couch Potato

Given the 2020 quarantine I think we can pretty much count on a resurgence of this word. With pretty much nothing to do besides sitting back, watching TV, reading novels, and eating junk food, but what has become of us?? We have become couch potatoes. A couch potato is much like a wastoid, only one that eats more on a couch or equally comfy lounging surface.

Wicked

Last but not least on this list of 80’s slang terms is ‘wicked‘! This is a great way to sound uber excited much like ‘sick’ and ‘radical,’ because you just can’t say ‘wicked’ monotone, you have to say it like it has seventeen exclamation points after it. This one will have everyone jealous of your 80’s amped vocabulary. 

How to Use Your 80’s Slang TERMS

Alright, alright, alright! Those are 29 radical 80’s slangs we need to bring back, though there are many, more. I hope you feel totally tubular and are ready to show off your newly decorated vocab. If you’re craving more 80’s vibes, give this playlist a listen and maybe check this Pinterest board out. Definitely pin this post so you can refer back to it later!

Once you’ve got your 80’s slang terms down you and friends can have hella awesome convos like this…

Popular 80's slang terms used in conversation

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7 thoughts on “29 Radical 80’s Slang Terms We Need to Bring Back”

  1. Forgot these 80’s slang words * Dope move (Cools brother but think doing a wild stunt)
    * Chill Out (Calm down a person is out of character)
    * That’s Hype (Too Super to imagine in a cartoon version)
    * Clocking You, Most Def (Ultimate definite point made),
    * Pile Up (Students piling up in the hallways or corridors think mass confusion!
    * Wiling out (Going crazy on the scene)
    * Chilly Willie (Funny dude with something up his sleeves or pulling a prank)! these slangs may be borderline to 90’s but I know I heard these slang words in the late 80’s
    Here’s one more
    * Rocking a Cesar (haircut ???? so so so famous) (1987 to 1989)

    Reply
  2. Obviously many words on your list are accurately applied to the correct year they were popular. How about adding “Far Out” by John Denver? Or “ What-EVER” but i don’t think that means cool. Or, She is a Knock out.

    pls don’t contact me. but i enjoyed your comments.

    Reply

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