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’80s Slang and Sayings that are Totally Bitchin’

The ’80s was an iconic decade known for unique fashion, big hairdos, and loud music. However, one characteristic of this decade that no one can forget about is the slang. ’80s slang and ’80s sayings put words to our most outlandish thoughts and they have influenced the language we use today. Some of these phrases are still popular due to their popularity 40 years ago and their relevancy today. Refresh or learn some of the most popular ’80s slang that may make a comeback.


Dude is a common word used in everyday vocabulary. This term is defined as a male who obsesses over his looks. However, depending on how “dude” is pronounced, it can mean various things. For example, a short, curt pronunciation can signal anger. However, a shallow, prolonged pronunciation can signal amazement or contentment.

Example: “Dude! That was my parking spot!” or “Dude, this is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had.”

Gag me with a spoon

Gag me with a spoon is an expression used to express disgust or disappointment. The idea of being heavily disgusted is compared to a reflex associated with being sick. Using this phrase symbolizes strong disapproval of a subject.

Example: “This class is the worst, gag me with a spoon! I can’t wait for summer.”


Gnarly is an interesting piece of ’80s slang that came from surf culture but has been used differently over time. At first, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, this word meant that something was tough or dangerous. This meaning is commonly associated with rough waves out in the sea. Gradually, “gnarly” has been used to describe something that is good, cool, or impressive. It’s become more versatile and its meaning depends on the context that it is used in.

Example: “Watch out, the waves out there are gnarly!” or “Check out his tricks, they’re gnarly.”


Bitchin’ is a word that summarizes how awesome, wonderful, and unbelievably good something is. Because of its meaning, it is commonly used as an exclamation or declaration.

Example: “”80s slang is totally bitchin’!”

Even/not even

Not even is used to express a strong disagreement with something. It is implying that something is very wrong and very far from the truth.


“Do you think I can take on that wave?”

“Not even.”


behind a man and woman who are talking


To be tubular means to be remarkable and awe-inspiring. It goes beyond simply being cool. Initially, in the ’80s, tubular would be used by a surfer to refer to the perfect, hollow, and curved shape of a wave that was perfect for riding. Over time, the slang was used in various situations to express how awesome something was. “Tubular” is another ’80s slang that emphasizes a strong, optimistic opinion.


“I love Jackie’s hair, it’s tubular.”

“Not even! I don’t think it suits her well.”

No duh

Duh was used to point out someone’s ignorance of something. “No duh” goes farther to emphasize the obvious through a sarcastic tone. This slang implies that the speaker was ahead of the game and that the others need to keep up with the program.


“Going on a road trip was an awesome idea for the summer!”

“No duh, I came up with the idea in the first place.”


The adjective radical means that something is extremely cool and bold. It is another ’80s saying that was adopted from surfer slang, according to the New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. More recently, “radical” was shortened to “rad” to also signify something that is beyond awesome.

Example: “Your new car is sick! The seats and the sound system are totally rad!”

Take a chill pill

The phrase take a chill pill was used to tell someone to calm down or relax. It was a typical response when someone was freaking out about something unreasonable. Most often, this phrase was often associated with a Valley Girl.

Example: “Stop freaking out, Lindsey. You’re making it obvious that you like him. Seriously, take a chill pill.”


The term omigod was frequently used by Valley Girls. This is a shortened, blended form of “oh my God” or “oh my gosh” to express surprise, pleasure, or passion.

Example: “Omigod, I totally need to update my wardrobe.”


The term grody describes something that is disgusting or gross. It resembles the sound of the word “gross,” but with a twist. A phrase that came from grody is “grody to the max” which means that something is beyond disgusting and is appalling.

Example: “Girl, did you see Kristen’s outfit today? I love her style, but not this look. It’s grody.”


Bod comes from the word “body” and refers to the same thing. Like many other terms, it originates from surf culture as a shortened way to refer to someone’s physique.

Example: “Dude, I need to hit the gym. Summer is coming up and I need my bod to be in top shape.


Word itself has different meanings. When uttered as an immediate statement, it is equivalent to saying “I agree,” but when uttered as an indirect question, it may be meant to express doubt or incredulity at what somebody is saying.


“This burger is the best I’ve had in a while!”


Eat my shorts

This ’80s slang is often associated with Bart Simpson. It’s an insult or dismissal typically in response to something bogus said.


“Cory, despite what you think, you’re not the best surfer around.”

“Eat my shorts, Dave!”


Describing something as bogus incurs that it is fake, lame, or ignorant. Prior to the ’80s, this word was commonly used when referring to counterfeit currency.

Example: “I can’t believe they lost the game. That was bogus.”


The most ubiquitous slang term to have originated in the 1980s, like is an example of slang that has persisted and continued into the common vocabulary of people today. “Like” has replaced the filler word “um” especially among Valley Girls. It has been used to punctuate almost every expression and exclamation to the point where it seems like an attempt to express the extent of something.

 Example: “Did you go to the party last weekend? It was like, the best night of like, my life! I wish you were there, I would have, like, totally hung out with you like, all night.”


The slang bodacious is a combination of the words “bold” and “audacious.” According to Green’s Dictionary of Slang, bodacious describes something as excellent and wonderful.  

Example: “This vacation beach house is bodacious. I love it here!”

woman doing a heart sign in sunset


Motor basically means that someone “has to go.” It refers to the motor of a vehicle and the need to drive off. 

Example: “Aw man, I told my mom I would be home by 9. I have to motor, dude.”


The word totally can be used to describe something as so utterly awesome, wonderful, bodacious, or rad. It puts emphasis on the nature of something to fully get their point across. Another popular use of “totally” is prolonging the first syllable to mark an even greater emphasis.


“I totally killed my band performance last night.”

“Yeah, toooh-tally, dude.”


The term phat is pronounced like the word “fat,” but it does not refer to being overweight. Instead, it references something that is exceptional or righteous.

Example: “Those shoes are phat! Where’d you get them?”


In the ’80s, saying that something was bad was not a negative comment and did not mean that it was not liked. Instead, it was the complete opposite. Bad means that something is really good. 

Example: “That was the baddest rock concert I’ve seen in a long time.”


Amp means to excite or to energize, and the ’80s slang “amped” uses that meaning quite literally. As “amp” is also a piece of equipment used to project music through speakers to make it louder, it is fitting that getting “amped up” signifies someone who is trying to get pumped up or excited for something. 

Example: “I’m so amped for the concert tonight. I’ve been waiting for this moment for like, forever!”

Bag your face

Bag your face is a harsh phrase often used by a Valley girl. It’s a literal exclamation to put a bag over one’s face to hide what someone deems as unattractive and atrocious. This slang is used to talk down on people due to their physical appearance.

 Example: “Unfortunately, you don’t have the facial features society deems as attractive. Like, bag your face.”

Barf me out

Similar to the phrase “bag your face,” barf me out is a response to something interpreted as offensive, distasteful, or negatively unexpected. This exclamation was created by Valley Girls.  

Example: “Bradley said he was going to ask out Jamie? Barf me out!”


The slang righteous refers to something that is cool or tubular. Like many other slang terms, “righteous” is another word that was common among surfer culture.

Example: “I went out surfing yesterday and caught a righteous wave! It was radical, best one yet!”


When someone wanted to leave an event in the 1980s, it was common to hear the word bounce. As you would expect, in this context, “bounce” means “to leave.” It was a slightly more polite and friendly way to excuse oneself compared to exclaiming, “I’m leaving!” 

Example: “It’s getting pretty late. I think I’m going to bounce.”


Book is an interesting slang because of its multiple meanings. When someone says they are booked, it is a way to express that they are appointed to appear somewhere or to provide a service. However, in the ’80s, it was common to say “book” as a way to mean “to leave” which is similar to “bounce.”

Example: “The kid almost got caught eating the last slice of cake. So, he booked it.”


According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the meaning of “veg” goes back to the word vegetate. It basically means to relax, to do nothing, and to disconnect mentally.  


“I’ve been so lazy this summer. All I want to do is veg out.”

“Dude, word.”

As if

The phrase as if is shortened for “as if it were true” to express disbelief in something said. It expresses the same idea as “yeah, right,” but in a more friendly and lighthearted manner.

 Example: “Avery plays in a band? As if.”


In the ’80s, getting burned meant having experienced a harsh outcome. It lies on the same level of getting one’s feelings hurt, but with heat, and facing the pain after – the burns. 

Example: “All of my friends made fun of my new haircut. I felt the burn.”

Cool beans

Saying cool beans means that something is cool or agreeable. When used in response to someone’s comment, is an affirmation that they agree with what was said.


“I’ll come by and pick you up tomorrow at 10.”

“Cool beans.”


The Green’s Dictionary of Slang defines hella as meaning “a lot” or “very.” This word emphasizes how extreme something is. This saying is an abbreviated form of the word “helluva.”

Example: “I didn’t bring my jacket; it is hella cold out here.”

What’s your damage?

Saying “what’s your damage” was equivalent to saying what’s your problem. In the ’80s, it was a response to a crazy comment, thought, or action.

Example: “Hey Tony, I heard you weren’t planning on inviting me to the party on Friday night. What’s your damage?”

Where’s the beef?

This phrase is an ’80s slang that actually came from a fast-food commercial. Where’s the beef? was used by a person who questioned the portions of her burger. The term eventually grew popular and was used by many as a way to indicate that something important was missing from a situation or product.

Example: “This movie’s trailer got my expectations up. Like, where’s the beef?”

person holding a cheeseburger


In the ’80s, geeks were stereotyped to be unattractive nerds. However, when a geek was seen to have sex appeal, they were labeled as a zeek.

Example: “No way, Jesse isn’t a geek. She’s a zeek for sure.”


The term cowabunga is an exclamation of exhilaration. It was also popularized by the cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and by surfer vernacular in a similar fashion.

Example: “These waves are crazy, dude! Cowabunga!”


When someone is described as goofy or silly, people in the ’80s may call them a goober. This is a lighthearted comment made to point out their playfulness.

Example: “She’s definitely the class clown, such a goober.”


The meaning behind the slang killer is something that is beyond awesome or very exceptional.

Example: “Dude, this beat is killer!”


The ’80s slang butter was used to reference something that was “smooth,” in a good way, like the actual butter spread. Something that was “butter” was either cool, slick, or rad.

Example: “Did you check out Jim’s new ride? It’s butter.”


The word grindage is a term that refers to delicious food. It was popularized by the American actor Pauly Shore.

Example: “Why don’t you come on over to my place tonight for some grindage.”


When people use the word choice, it is usually meant as an approval, but sometimes it can also mean envy. When someone says that something about you is “choice,” they are saying that they agree with your decision and that it suits you well.

Example: “Your outfit today is choice!”

Have a cow

The meaning behind the ’80s saying of have a cow is quite unique because the relationship to a cow is not as clear. This phrase points out a state of being overly emotional or dramatic about something. It is a hint to calm down or to take a chill pill.


“Why are you always making fun of me, Erin?”

“It was just a joke, don’t have a cow.”


This ’80s saying has various meanings depending on its context. Sometimes, psych is used to mean “exciting” or “stoked.” In other situations, “psych” is paired with “out” to mean “to be confused” or “to intimidate.” Also, “psych” can be used to mark a joke or a false statement.

Example: “I am like, so psyched for the Halloween party tonight!” or “Stop trying to psych me out of getting that tattoo.” or “Sorry, I crashed your car. Psych!”


Wastoid is an offensive term used to describe someone who is labeled as “worthless or dim-witted” due to drug or alcohol abuse. Its first use was in The Breakfast Club.

Example: “Drug or alcohol addiction will only cause problems in your life, including being called a wastoid.”


The word ralph refers to the act of vomiting supposedly due to the sound of throwing up. In the 1980s, it was also used in the phrase “call for Ralph.”

Example: “I’m never drinking that concoction again. I was ralphing all night.”

Wigging out

The ’80s saying of wigging out refers to being paranoid to the point of freaking out.


“I swear my apartment is haunted. I keep hearing noises at night.”

“Tommy, you’re just wigging out.”

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