Citation for the Word "Slacker"

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Thu Apr 24 21:22:09 UTC 2014

The latest edition of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations has an entry for some dialogue from the film "Back to the Future": "You've got a real attitude problem, McFly.  You're a slacker!"  I'm not sure why this line is noteworthy; maybe Bartlett's feels this inspired the term "slacker."

The OED has two senses of the word "slacker."  One, going back to the 1800s, means someone who shirks work.  The second, with an earliest use dated 1990, refers to a member of an apathetic generation.  Does the "Back to the Future" "slacker" belong to the first sense or the second?

Fred Shapiro

The American Dialect Society -

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