Linguistically speaking, the 1990’s were just one big eyeroll. (Of course, by “linguistically” we’re talking about words, not pasta.)
After a decade of growing up in the Go-Go ‘80s, America’s youth took a collective heavy sigh and created 90’s slang filled with words and phrases meant to dismiss, contradict and, in general, just piss people off. It’s really astonishing more punches weren’t thrown between 1990 and 2000.
With 90’s slang, you could go all passive-aggressive with insults worthy of Wayne and Garth. “Your hair looks fly. Not.” Act clueless and dismissive with a strategically placed “as if.” Or pretend to be an interesting storyteller with a simple “yadda, yadda, yadda.”
While some 90s slang survives to this day, much of it would not be acceptable in our overly sensitive 2018 world. We’d have to change “all that and a bag of chips” to “all that and a bag of organic kale chips.” In this day and age, just try using the word “phat” without being accused of “phat”-shaming.
Today, some of the 90s slang may seem as L-7 (to use even older slang) as Green Day on Broadway (they should have won a Tony! Toni! Tone!) but many of the words and phrases deserve to be in regular every day use. If you disagree, talk to the hand!
OUR FAV 90’S SLANG
Over the years, whatever has been shortened to “whatev” but the old version, dripping with disgust and fake indifference, needs to make a comeback.
Compared to whatever, whatevsdoesn’t even sound like you’re trying very hard.
Along with the word “whatever,” the timing of “whatever” also should come back. Let the other person finish a sentence… take a beat… then throw in a whatever. Sheer dismissive perfection.
In this highly charged political era, where real friends and Facebook friends are unfriending each other daily, this playful remnant of 90’s slang is much needed today. Instead of blocking somebody in an angry huff, use a friendly “Oh, snap” to say, “Okay, you got me on that one. Let’s keep being friends.”
BOO-YA OR BOOYAH OR BOOYA (NOBODY CAN AGREE ON THE SPELLING)
Before the days of “mic drop,” boo-ya was a great way to show triumphant superiority. It’s also one of those words that makes you giggle when Merriam-Webster sends out a press release touting the annual dictionary updates.
Today, boo-ya is rarely used un-ironically which is a shame because it is so much fun to say.
OPENING A CAN OF WHOOP ASS
Of all the ‘90’s slang, nothing is more dated than opening a can of whoop ass. Using it today would be the equivalent of some kid in the 1950’s saying “23 skidoo!”
But “opening a can of whoop ass” is the least violent, violent phrase ever created.
Imagine if President Trump threatened to “open up a can of whoop ass” on North Korea. Kim Jong-un would no doubt Tweet back, “Chill, dude, aiight.”
YOU GO GIRL
Does Oprah know she’s the only human who still uses this phrase?
Who would tell her?
Everybody is terrified of Oprah.
But, since Oprah may be president someday, it’s time to bring back this famed Martin Lawrence contribution to society. In fact, if “You Go, Girl” isn’t Oprah’s campaign slogan, I’ll eat my bucket hat. (Maybe Martin Lawrence will be VP.)
Pope Francis should lead the charge in bringing back this 90’s slang gem.
After all, this dope Pope, probably wants to relate to the kids.
We can forgive his vernacular sins for not keeping up with current language trends. I can see the Pope in his Vatican crib saying, “Children of the world, I have it on good authority that heaven is hella tight.”
Of all the 90’s slang phrases, “alrighty then” perfectly sums up the current political climate since everybody is convinced everybody else is stupid.
Both sides look at the other and think “alrighty then” even if they don’t say it out loud.
The great thing about “alrighty then” is you can mumble it quietly to yourself or say it at full Jim Carey volume. More people would tune into C-Span if “alrighty then” was used more during Congressional hearings.
The security line at the airport would be much more entertaining if people used the term “da bomb” in normal conversation.
You’re thinking, “Don’t go there!”
THE ‘90’S TODAY
Of course, if you’re going to sound retro with 90’s slang, you might as well look retro with 90’s inspired clothes. So, curl up on your inflatable couch, put on some N’SYNC and take a chill pill while wearing JNCO jeans.