"smash-mouth" + Univ. of Wisconsin student slang (1965)

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sat Jan 29 03:49:02 UTC 2011

For my latest On Language column, I dug into the history of some football


Among the terms I consider is "smash(-)mouth." The earliest football usage I
found was from 1968:

El Paso Herald-Post, Nov. 30, 1968, p. B2, col. 1
"As I Was Saying," Bob Ingram
Footballosophy of George Hummer, Arizona State center: "The name of the game
is smash mouth."

As I mention in the column, a 1965 article about University of Wisconsin
slang in the _Wisconsin State Journal_ identifies "smash mouth" as UW slang
for "necking, making out." Excerpts from the article follow below. Many
interesting items here, such as "dorm-dork" -- HDAS has "dork" as student
slang for "a stupid or obnoxious person" from 1967.

_Wisconsin State Journal_, Jan. 17, 1965, pp. 1-2
"UW Slang Makes 'Smash' a Kissing Success" by David Bednarek
Getting an "A" on a test is "aceing" it or "hooking" it. Getting an "F" or
failing is called "flagging."
A "heavy booker" is one who studies a lot while one who does the opposite
will probably go into a test "cold" or unprepared. If the student is
unpreapred and the test is multiple choice, he will probably do what is
called "Christmas treeing it" or guessing at the correct answer.
The university's use of data processing in recording grades, registration,
and course assignment has led students to call the IBM machine a
[T]he male students describe a pretty girl as "tough" or a "tough head." The
coeds might describe the handsome guy as a "mass gasser," or a guy "who
turns me on."
On the other side would be the girl or guy called a "loser" or a
plain-looking date with no personality. If the person is completely
obnoxious, he would find himself "grossing out."
A couple of other terms to describe bad dates as well as other people who
don't find favor with students are "lunch bucket" or "out-to-lunch."
One step lower than these persons would be the one or ones called "sandwich"
or "ham and cheese."
A popular activity for dates at Wisconsin is going to a movie or "flick."
The whole process is often called "flicking out." After the flick, the
Badger couple might go "pubbing" or bar-hopping.
If they have too much beer or "suds," they'd probably get "smashed" or
The guy or girl who comes close in passing out after only two or three
glasses of beer is called a "short-hitter."
If just one of the couple is a short-hitter, this is likely to lead to a
sensitive situation or something termed "sticky wicket."
But if the two are reasonably compatible in drinking ability and if the guy
has "wheels" or a car, the activity after the bar closes becomes
In Grandfather's time this activity was called "sparking," a term which
might even come back because it has been away for so long.
"Necking" came into vogue some time later, to be replaced by making out."
This gave way among the cute set to "kissy face" a few years ago, but
today's students are calling it "smash mouth."
Once the girl has been returned to her quarters, the guy will return to
Langdon st. if he is a "frat-rat," or to one of the University Residence
Halls if he is a "dorm-dork" or one who lies in a dormitory.
If the student is hung over the next morning, he might refer to himself as
"palsied," and his "breth" (fraternity brothers) or "roomies" (room mates)
won't have much compassion.


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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