Baby Boomer Slang. Can You Dig It?

Posted on March 2nd, 2012 in Beat Generation,Counterculture/New Age,Hippie,Pop Culture,Sexual Revolution by Terry Hamburg

We talked the talk. We walked the walk. Here’s where it came from.

Bag, as a particular interest or area of expertise, entered pop culture around 1964 and derives from jazz jargon. It’s likely based on the notion of putting something in a bag, thus possessing it. Example: “Folk music is my bag, man.” It was a weekend hipster word that fell out of use in the 1970s.

Daddy-O comes from be-bop talk, the language associated with 1940s improvisational jazz, first attested in 1949. Quickly picked-up by beatniks, by the late-1960s it was already archaic. Even Maynard G. Krebs wouldn’t utter the word.

Hickey is a red welt, usually on the neck, given by an overzealous lover. It was a badge of honor for 1950s baby boomer teens who popularized and likely coined it. As the 1960s sexual revolution heated up, the word assumed an air of innocence and was used less often.

Mosh pit is the place where you mosh. It’s usually in front of the rock stage in the area where traditional stage show musicians sit—the orchestra pit. Moshing is a form of violent dancing, the word likely a variant of “mash,” as in crush. It’s first recorded in the mid-1980s.

Shrink, meaning a psychiatrist, comes from “head-shrinker,” referring to some native groups in the Amazon. You wouldn’t want to be their enemy. The warriors stripped the skin from your skull, which mummified it to the size of fist. The word as slang first surfaced in a 1950 Time Magazine article where a “head-shrinker” was identified as Hollywood jargon for a psychiatrist. It became more popular when used in the movie Rebel Without a Cause. Perhaps it meant that psychoanalysis reduces the ego, especially when it gets swollen by Hollywood success. By the 1970s, “shrink” had entered the popular lexicon to the point that shrinks were using it.

Yuppie, short for Young Urban Professional, was coined in the late 1970s to describe baby boomers who never entered or those who left the counterculture to pursue professional careers. The stereotype: one who dressed and possessed in a openly pretentious manner, and had little concern for social issues. BMWs, quiche lunches, Ferragamo shoes. Greed is good. Jerry Rubin, who went from Yippie to Yuppie said: If you hear IRA and think of the Irish Republican Army, you’re a Yippe; if you think Individual Retirement Account, you’re a Yippie.”

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One Response to 'Baby Boomer Slang. Can You Dig It?'

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  1. Pat Campo said,

    on April 21st, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    Maynard G. Krebs. Just goes to show there was more to Bob Denver than Gilligan.

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