Sunday, December 03, 2006

Some of my favorite slang expressions

Good slang conveys a concept better than "regular" language, has interesting origins, and is fun to say. Here are some of my current favorite slang expressions.

"Goat rope"
* Source. I heard this a couple of weeks ago from my brother John who picked it up in the navy. It comes from the term "goat rodeo," and it refers to a completely messy or disorganized situation.
* Real life example. The last time I did Sunday School it was a real goat rope. I haven't been asked to do it again.

"Jumping the shark"
* This phrase comes from television, and it refers to the moment when know that something has irreversibly dropped in quality. It comes from the old TV show "Happy Days" when a viewer gave up hope for the show upon watching Fonzie, while waterskiing, jump over a shark. The video clip.
* I'm not sure why, but I usually feel that my large lecture classes have jumped the shark by about week 12 or 13 of the 15 week semester.

"Epic shellacking"
* This is an original by my friend and colleague David Weakliem. We spent much of fall 2005 seeing if we could outwit the betting spread in college football, and in discussing one of the many games that we predicted wrong, David referred to it as an "epic shellacking." It refers to a defeat of historic proportions, but the word shellacking has a humorous connotation.
* My friend Mike suffered an epic shellacking in poker last night.

"Sweet mother of pearl"
* A sixth-grader in our neighborhood used this as one would use "holy cow" or "oh my gosh". It sounds so archaic that coming from a 12-year-old I haven't forgotten it.
* When I saw all the Christmas shopping traffic downtown today, I loudly exclaimed "sweet mother of pearl, that's a lot of cars." For a hilarious example.

* This refers to someone who is afraid to take risks, like the oldtime soldiers who held long pikes, thus keeping the enemy at a distance. I think that I heard this from Chris Uggen.
* When none of my students will answer a discussion question, I chastise them, saying "don't be a bunch of pikers."

"Bringing a knife to a gun fight."
* Being completely ill-equipped for a situation, being completely overmatched. (I think it's from the movie "The Untouchables")
* My arguing social statistics with David Weakliem (or discussing math with Andre) is like bringing a knife to a gun fight.

* I've heard this from my students, and they use it to refer to drinking at home before going out to drink. More generally, I would define it as anticipating an activity of excess by committing that very excess.
* E.g., when my wife asked me why I was snacking so much before Thanksgiving dinner, I told her I was just pregaming.

I always appreciate new slang, especially that which is both quirky and informative.



Knumb said...

Good list.

Note: Goat Ropes have to start with good intentions. Otherwise, you just have a Charlie Foxtrot (which has a profane 'splanation).

Mother of Pearl!

The military has some good ones:
- Jettison your training aid = eject from your aircraft

I'll try to keep a note of ones I hear, as you asked. They tend to come up situationally.

brewright said...

I love the video of Mother of Pearl! I wonder if that's where the kid got it.

I like goat rope even more now... a bit of nuance in the definition.

Matt Wiebe said...

alternate definition of pregaming: getting nervous before an event and having to take a crap.
Example: my brother before any basketball game he played

Jay Livingston said...

If you don't know about Urban Dictionary (, bookmark it now. Their preferred definition of "goat rope" supports knumb's note.

Knumb said...

Whaddya know, the urbandictionary author is named knumbknuts, too! ;)

I put that definition up a year or two ago.

Some of these aren't funny expressions in and of themselves, but I find these following phrases make most any sentence they are in amusing:

"lawn dart" - Oooh, that hang glider landed like a lawn dart.

"chalupa" - err, no examples on this one, but what a funny word.

"swing a dead cat" - You could walk into a bar in Georgetown, swing a dead cat around, and the first guy you knock off a stool could be the best president we've had in 4 terms. (Used that the other day)

"Latte Mom" - Unemployed female resident of Orange County, who employs a nanny in order to preserve such luxuries as two trips to Starbucks a day and lots of shopping.

"Yupster" - Husband of the Latte Mom. Known to be fleeced by the high prices of woodworking souvenirs in Bozeman, MT, particularly those made by Mark Sabo, the term's author.

909er - Resident of Riverside County.

teh intranets - nerdspeak for "The Internet"

QFT - Quoted for Truth (I heartily agree with)

Ho Noes! Oh no.

!!!!!111!!11one!!!1 - exclamation

brewright said...

Hey John,

I really like the swing a dead cat phrase!

What's !!!!!111!!11one!!!1 ?

I thought that the Urban Dictionary entry was by you... isn't that just like the web--not always knowing who published what.

Knumb said...

!!!!!!!111one!!!111!! is a hefty exclamation.

Wow, look at that ice cream!
- John

Wow, look at that ice cream!!!!!!!111one!!!111!!

- Brad

Obviously, it only works in type.

Anonymous said...

I forgot all about that episode of Happy Days until you mentioned "jump the shark". But that got me to wondering. Was it the jump of the shark that marked the end of the Fonz and thus the show or was it that someone like the Fonz just looks stupid to be waterskiing with a long sleeve leather jacket on? Also if you are wearing a long sleeve lether jacket with swimming trunks it looks like someone stole your pants - definitely not cool.

samati said...

"Mother of Pearl" coming from a kid that young, he probably got it from SpongeBob Squarepants. Mr. Krabs is known to say it.

!!!!!!!111one!!!111!! is a sarcastic way of showing (usually undue) excitement, mocking kids and tweens who get overly-enthusiastic with the shift and the 1.