After reminiscing and laughing at slang words for the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s for the past three weeks, by the 1980s, it’s obvious many kitschy words and phrases of the 20th century spanned all four decades, and then some.
Nothing wrong with that, of course, just, even after much research and pouring over many lists, it was tough to pin them down per generation. No matter. They’ve still been fun and interesting to bring back and chuckle over … and think about how we’ve changed … or not.
|Oh, how we wanted Julia Roberts' hair!|
How “totally” UN-politically correct the 1980s were! At least, until the latter years. Other “uns” that fit the decade: UN-natural, from spiral perms to fake accents; UN-abashed in an anything-goes-fashion nonsense; and radio UN-censored began the trend of shock-and-awe everything … à la the self-important Mr. Stern.
To wrap up RETRO Wordplay Wednesday, we’ll poke your memory and run through a few fun slang words and phrases that are synonymous with the ‘80s.
Like, oh no! Did you see those argyle leg warmers? “Gag Me with a Spoon!” Ah yes, the onset of Valleyspeak! Starting in California’s San Fernando Valley, it still lingers throughout speech nationwide, in statements with an “uptalk” question? “No Duh.” Agh!
The 1980s resonated with “Mall Chicks” hanging out more than they shopped, and “gnarly” surfer dudes, who dated all the “totally bitchin’” babes.
But right from the beginning, as Silicon Valley began its techno rise to fame, there is one word that stretched throughout the 1980s and into the ‘90s, defining a certain slick sector of society. In today’s world, they likely would equate to successful start-up entrepreneurs and high-end IT professionals …
YUPPIE (yupʹē) n. – a young professional regarded variously as upscale, ambitious, materialistic, faddish, etc. 
Making a play on “yippie,” the derisive slang for “1968 radical activists” (according to the dictionary), we created the other end of that spectrum in the ‘80s, with yuppie. In general use, a mostly mocking term for “young urban professionals.” Think double-breasted suits resurrected from the 1940s for the guys, and big hair with big shoulders (pads) for power play women. Side note … we thought 3” heels were daring.
Practically everyone had a Rubik’s Cube (Ideal Toy Co. 1980)— but not everyone could solve the puzzle. After a day with glossy yuppies and frustrating puzzles, we needed laughs, and tuned in to a plethora of comedy television shows from Cheers to WKRP in Cincinnati.
Hope you enjoyed our RETRO month of Wordplay Wednesday with a chuckle and mayhap a little wistfulness. Well … get over it! ‘Cause you’ll need your wits about you as we head into the unknown for ROCK-tober and Halloween month!
Word Challenge: YUPPIE.Why not “go ‘80s” for Halloween? Tease your hair ladies, and grab your guy posing as Don Johnson with push-up jacket sleeves and a t-shirt, as you fit yuppie into your week of retro writings.
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Write first for yourself … only then can you write for others. (L.Rochelle)
LinDee Rochelle is a writer and editor by trade, and an author by way of Rock & Roll. She has published two books (of three) in her series, available on Amazon (eBook and print): Book 1 – Rock & Roll Radio DJs: ; and Book 2 – Rock & Roll Radio DJs: . Coming soon, … The Psychedelic Seventies!