James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause
James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause

Mid-fifties. James Dean. Rebel without a cause. A few ingredients that inspired a whole new generation of teens to “rebel” back in the 1950s. It was also the start of some new trends in fashion style. Short jackets and jeans with rolled cuffs for men. Figurehugging tops and tight (highwaisted) pants and skirts for women. Let’s not forget the famous pompadour hairstyles! James Dean was an important cult icon of  the new rockabilly (sub) culture. Greasers (indeed, like John Travolta in Grease) and Dolls with that o so typical rockabilly style.

They didn’t just walked the walk but also talked the talk! There are a lot of aspects that are very interesting of the 1950s rockabilly era. Fashion and movies of course. But let’s not forget that this 1950s subculture introduced its own language. That good old 1950s slang.

It’s interesting how some expressions that are so established in our nowadays informal language, have their roots in the old rockabilly  days. There are so many interesting 1950s slang words and expressions. I would love to see  a comeback of a lot of these slang words. I made a little quiz of some fun and fascinating words and expressions of the 1950s. This list is of course not complete. Not by far, but these are the ones that stuck with me when I heard them for the first time.

Also read:  Back to the fifties on a random Sunday


How many 50s slang words and expressions do you recognize? Answers are at the bottom!

1. Out to lunch

a) lame, acting stupid
b) went out to have lunch
c) smart

2. Cat

a) Miaow, well a cat of course!
b) Hip person
c) A bitchy person

3) Classy chassis

a) You’re classy
b) You’ve got a hot/great body
c) You have a sparkling personality

4) Gig

a) Party
b) Game
c) Job

5) Cruisin for a bruisin’

a) Looking for trouble
b) Racing with friends
c) Going out for a drink

6) Back Seat Bingo

a) Doing something illegal
b) Making out in the backseat of a car
c) Gambling

7) Made in the shade

a) Success guaranteed
b) Happiness guaranteed
c) Trouble guaranteed

8. Party Pooper

A) Drama Queen
b) A bore
c) A wallflower

9. Rag top

a) Convertible car
b) Crop top
c) Troublemaker

10. Righto

a) You’re Right
b) Okay
c) Spot On

11. What’s buzzin, cuzzin?

a) What’s wrong
b) What’s new
c) What’s on your mind

12. Kookie

a) Boring
b) Nuts (in a good way)
c) Lovely

Also read:  History of makeup - Chapter 1: Eyeliner

13. Supermurgitroid

a) Really stupid
b) Really cool
c) Really bad

14. Ankle-biter

a) An animal
b) A difficult task
c) A kid



Correct answers:

1:a, 2:b, 3:b, 4:a, 5:a, 6:b, 7:a, 8:b, 9:a, 10:c, 11:b, 12:b, 13:b, 14:c

1-4: You need to work on your 1950s slang. Get with it.
5-9: Not bad. Not bad at all. Watch some more 1950s movies
10-14: You either grew up in the 1950s or…you’re a secret (vintage) 1950s lover and you’ve just found out. Congratulations ;-)!

Vintage meets Present 50s slang

And here are few sentences with expressions that are still being used in the present world:

“I had a blast last night!”
Are you writing a book?” When you see “Person X is typing…” for a long time
Like a boss…” (we all know those memes)
“That’s so cool!”
“I am on cloud 9

Did you know the 1950s slang words of the quiz? Or do you know a few that I haven’t mentioned here? Let me know!
See ya later, alligator…


Pictures via Wikimedia Commons 1 & 2

3 replies
  1. jeapiebel
    jeapiebel says:

    Het is hier zeker iets om van te leren. Toegegeven ik ben hier zeker niet goed in. Ik zal geen goed antwoord kunnen geven, dus sla ik het over. Net als je een vis bent en dan moet gaan vliegen. 😉 Alleen nederlands is al lastig. 🙂

  2. Melike
    Melike says:

    Hihi super leuk! Ik kwam op 5-9. Toch best goed, want ik weet dat ik hier lang niet genoeg over weet. Je hebt me wel weer wat geleerd;)


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.