1961 article on teen slang

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Fri Sep 14 06:30:34 UTC 2007

The following article by Gay Pauley, UPI women's editor, appeared in
various newspapers in December 1961. (Newspaperarchive has it in: San
Antonio Light, Dec. 12, 1961, p. 21; Long Beach Press-Telegram, Dec.
14, 1961, p. 8; etc.)

Beep beep to all you handcuffs whose teenagers fizz it up when you
won't let them have the beast, complain that their uranium is too low,
that everyone else is a snagged stag, and why do they have to skip the
bash just because of a brain derby.
Translation, if you're a murgatoid (square): Hi to all you parents
whose teenagers lose their temper when you won't let them have the
family car, complain that their allowance is too low, that everyone
else is going steady, and why do they have to miss the party just
because of school exams.
Art Unger is the man who sets parents right on what their youngsters
mean when they refer to someone as a Poor Pearl (an unpopular girl),
as a chicken (engaged girl), a splouse (an extra special louse), or a
squeep (a cross between a square and a creep).
Unger is publisher and and editor of "Datebook" magazine and author of
a new book, "The Cool Book" (Prentice Hall), called a "teenager's
guide to survival in a square society."
Unger talks to teens, in teen terms, on such matters as dating, good
looks and grooming, popularity and education. But it's the section on
teenager "cooloquialisms" and "daffynitions" which I suggest for dazed
Some instances, and the translations:
Don't bust me means quit kidding. A cannibal's cave is the home
economics room. Antsville is a crowded place. A chick is a single
girl. Pucker Palace is a drive-in movie. Turn up the stereo means
listen to me. A tourniquet is a wedding ring. Pony express means on a
date, just you and the driver. A stage coach is a double date.
A nest is a hairdo. Chrome-plated is all dressed up. A grody is a
murgatroid, or a square also. Psyche it out means to think
a problem through. Wave your wig is to comb your hair. Failed to orbit
means you failed to get a date. It's been heaven but I think I'll jump
for earth translates simply as the evening's over.
Teen torture is homework, a coffee pot is the life of the party, and a
fungus among us means there's a character in our midst. A library kiss
is one with lots of volume. Germ warfare is kissing. Earth pads are
shoes. Skull drag is to study, King George's jive is English, and the
creep catalog is the yearbook.
And, that's the way the gravity pulls means that's life.
[The rest consists of "daffynitions".]
A teacher is daffily defined as one who talks in other people's sleep.
A crew cut is a furry with a single on top. Sunbathing is a fry in the
A minute man is the fellow who can make it to the refrigerator and
back with a sandwich while the commercial is on. A pedestrian is a man
with two cars, a wife and a son. The ringleader is the first one in
the bathtub.
An adult is a person who has stopped growing at both ends and started
growing in the middle. A barbecue is an incinerator with a press
agent. Love is the feeling that makes a boy think as much of a girl as
he thinks of himself.
And a coed is a girl who didn't get her man in high school.

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

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