Can You Translate These Slang Words From the '70s?


By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: Tom Kelley Archive/Retrofile RF/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Heavily influenced by the hippie culture that was born in the late 1960s, the children of the 1970s valued the ability to say "cool" in dozens of ways. Think we're kidding? What do groovy, hip, fab, peachy keen, tuff and boss have in common? They all mean variations of "cool."

And much like the youths of today, the young people of the 1970s had to hide what they meant from parents, teachers and other squares by using slang. Unlike their children in the 1990s (who would take to the internet and use a variety of acronyms from "POS" to "LOL") the teenagers of the 1970s communicated in person or over the phone, so the slang was less abbreviation focused, ya dig?

How well do you remember the slang of the '70s? Maybe you're old enough to have used these terms yourself (hey, we're not asking!) Perhaps you've learned them from a love of old 1970s television, like "Good Times" and "Three's Company." Whatever the case, we've created a quiz to challenge you. Dust off your hippie-to-English dictionary and let's get started!

What does "bummer" describe?

This one never really fell out of fashion, although "downer" came to rival it in popularity. Today, it tends to be more ironic. Deploy it in a deadpan tone when a friend is going on way too long about a minor grievance. "Dude, that's such a bummer that you can't leave work early to go to the gym." They'll get the point.


What does "boogie" mean?

If you want to boogie, you want to dance. For example: This song always makes me want to hit the floor and boogie like there's no tomorrow!


What's the definition of "crib?"

We suppose your crib could be your van if you lived in it, but, in general, it was your home. For example: We went back to my crib after the concert.


"You dig?" means what?

This is one of the flagship slang terms of the 1960s and 1970s. This means, "Do you understand what I'm saying?" For example: I can only meet you after my meeting, which ends at 8 p.m. You dig?


If someone is "foxy," they're what?

A good-looking person of either gender could be "a fox." "Foxy" was only applied to women, though. For example: My uncle's new girlfriend is surprisingly foxy.


What's the definition of "fuzz?"

The "fuzz" was a generic or collective term for the police. For example: We have to turn the music down, the fuzz is at the front door and told us we're violating noise ordinance laws.


"Bad" meant what?

So, in this scenario (1970s America) "bad" actually means "good." You'd use it to describe something cool. For example: That's one bad sports car you're driving!


Who is "the Man?"

"The Man" refers to authority figures, especially in contrast to the counter-culture movement. For example: Can you believe that all those people are working for the Man?


You mean _____ when you shout, "Far out!"

Did astronomy buffs come up with this one, after grooving on how cool is it to see galaxies that are light years away? Maybe not, but that's our theory, and we're sticking to it! Either way, the universe is far out!


When you're "booking," you're doing what?

This means to go fast. It's not to be confused with the police slang for "process into jail." Example: We were late for the concert, so we were booking it down Interstate 10.


If it's "peachy keen," it's:

"Peachy keen" (which was also shortened to "peachy") meant that something was great. For example: Sharon asked me how I was doing, and I said, "Peachy keen!"


What does "drag" mean?

Today, to "drag" someone means to embarrass them in public. But in the '70s, it meant that something was a disappointment or something that brought you down. For example: Can you believe the power is out again? What a drag!


To be "groovy" means to be:

"Groovy" was an important term in the '60s and 1970s. It meant mellow, hip and extremely cool. For example: Have you seen their apartment? The decor is groovy! There's so much macrame!


What does "psyche" mean?

"Psyche" means to trick someone. It also can be used as "to psyche someone out." For example: Pysche! We were just pretending to be the fuzz!


To "freak out" means to:

This one is still used today, and means the same thing. There's one main difference. In the 1970s, psychedelic drugs were often involved, and a "bad trip" could be very scary and cause you to freak out.


What does "cat" describe?

This came from African-American slang of the mid-20th century. "A real cool cat" was invariably a man, and eventually, "cool" got dropped (because it was just understood.) For example: This cat always shows up wearing the finest shades!


The '70s slang definition of "square" is:

Although every generation has words to divide the cool from the uncool, "square" meant something a little different to the hippies than "nerd" does today. Often, it had to do with never having done drugs and with still being part of capitalist, consumerist world. If you were square, you weren't part of the counter-culture.


What does "streak" mean?

Streaking was a prank or a form or political protest in the 1970s. How, exactly, did running through a public event in your birthday suit effect social change? Frankly, we're still trying to figure that out.


"Toke" means:

"Toking" was taking a hit or puff of a marijuana product. Now, we just call it smoking. For all you music buffs, remember that Steve Miller will always be a "midnight toker." If you don't understand, please go listen to "The Joker" by the Steve Miller Band, and then finish this quiz.


When someone said, "outta sight," what did they mean?

We'd call this another synonym for "cool," but really, it's stronger than that. For example: When you asked your friend how the Rolling Stones concert was, she was like, "Dude! It was outta sight!"


What does "trippin'" mean?

Today, the definition of "trippin'" has changed to mean having anxiety or bad feelings for any reason. But in the 1970s, when psychedelics were very popular, it meant specifically that someone was using them, to either good or bad emotional effect. For example: Jane is staring at the wall because she's trippin' and thinks the wall is breathing.


When you talk about something being "heavy," what are you talking about?

Something that's "heavy" is serious. For example: I'm sorry that during the past two days, you lost your job and your girlfriend left you. That's super heavy.


What did "spaz" (a word that is now considered derogatory) mean?

Not-so-fun fact: This term is actually pretty darn insensitive (and if you use it, you should probably ban it from your vocabulary from here on out.) It's a shortening of "spastic," meaning a person who can't control their muscles (having spasms.) This became a derogatory term for a person who was a ball of nervous energy and a little clumsy.


What does "chump" mean?

Before "loser!" became a catchall insult, we had "chump." Often male, he's the guy whose toast always lands butter-side-down.


How was the word, "boss," used in '70s slang?

This was another synonym for "very cool." If you had a "boss car," you probably had a Mustang or a Corvette. Sadly, you weren't going to be able to afford gas for it for long. Just google "1970s oil crisis."


What was your "pad?"

"Pad" was a sexy term for home. If you got picked up (in the romantic way) by someone in the 1970s, they likely invited you back to their "pad."


If you were a "head," what were you?

This usually refers to someone who uses non-hard and psychedelic drugs. For example: Much to my surprise, my mom was a head when she was in high school.


What's the gist of the phrase, "Keep on truckin'?"

"Truckin'" referred to a way of walking with intention (the opposite of strolling.) "Keep on truckin'" essentially meant to keep moving forward or hang in there. For example: Despite the hardships that come your way, sometimes you just have to keep on truckin'.


What was the most common use of the word "bum" in '70s slang?

The classic use of this phrase was, "Can I bum a smoke?" It essentially meant, "Hey there, can I please have a cigarette/a drag of a cigarette/piece of gum/after dinner mint/extra quarter for laundry?" You'd use it to ask for a small item, either from a stranger or someone you know.


What does it mean when you "bogart" something?

This is a reference to Humphrey Bogart. While it's not totally clear exactly where it started, it appears to reference the ever-present cigarette dangling from his lips. Did he share the cigarette? Never. It came to mean hogging a joint. For example: Buddy, stop bogarting the joint! We all pitched in for it!


What is a "brick house?"

Everyone who knows this one probably does so because of the Commodores song by the same name. It's a classic '70s anthem, in praise of shapely women.


What is a "solid?"

A solid is a favor or gracious act. For example: If I die before you do, can you do me a solid and throw out all my old diaries before my family can read them?


What's the '70s slang definition of "jiving?"

To jive means to chit-chat, although it can also mean to be nonsensical or deceptive when used in the form "jiving." For example, you might say: I hope you're not jiving! I need to know where the key is!


"Tuff" is synonymous with:

It's hard to run out of ways to say "cool," isn't it? This one was popularized by "The Outsiders," who tells readers, "'Tuff' and 'tough' are two different words. In my neighborhood, both are compliments."


"Hip" is synonymous with being:

The term "hip" and "hipster" actually appear to date from the Prohibition era, when alcohol was illegal, but the cool people carried liquor in a flask on their hips. This made them "hip" or "hipsters." The kids of the '70s brought the term "hip" back in a big way. It wasn't until the 2000s that "hipster" made a reappearance, but this time around, it isn't much of a compliment!


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