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Last Updated on March 18, 2022
There’s a lot of weird shizzle that came out of the 90s, but potentially, the weirdest isn’t the fashion or the fact that Angelina Jolie carried a vial of Billy Bob Thornton’s blood around her neck for a while, there (what the heck was that all about?). No, the weirdest may just be the specific 90s slang we all used. Remember that?
I don’t know why we couldn’t just talk like normal people (God, listen to me, I sound like my mother), but that’s fine with me, cause now I’ve got material for this bitchin’ article I’m writing. See what I did there?
110 Percent – Since you were going above and beyond, giving it only a 100 was not enough! 110 percent was the amount you gave when you were giving it your best! This phrase was so absurd that it even made it into The Simpsons in 1992.
All that – You know, like in “She’s All That”. This is used to describe someone who’s like, the coolest, or who seems perfect in every way. It’s probably usually that girl we’re all jealous of.
All that and a bag of chips – Same definition, basically, but more like all that and THEN some. A lot of this slang is going to be weird and nonsensical, but this one is really random.
As if! – Used to express a ludicrous idea, i.e. As IF I would ever date that guy, eww! You probably already knew this, but this one was popularized by Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, and if you didn’t know, I am revoking your 90s kid card, because this is UNACCEPTABLE.
Bada-bing – The term is used to emphasize that something will happen effortlessly and predictably. For example, you will do all that and bada-bing! You will be a millionaire, just like that. Bada-bing’s origin goes back to the practice of the drummer in American burlesque shows of punctuating the comic’s jokes with a hit on the side of his drum by his stick, followed by a hit on the cymbal. In 1999, Bada Bing was also used as the name of a fictional strip club in The Sopranos.
Bangin’ – This essentially means “awesome”, but most frequently, it’s used to describe something that’s hot. So, something like “Bro that chick last night looked BANGIN”. Picture that in a frat boy voice for the full effect.
Beeotch – Self-explanatory, a variation of “b*tch”. Isn’t usually used to mean that someone is acting like a b*tch, but rather as a way to address someone or as a misguided term of endearment. I’m pretty sure you can find it in Mean Girls somewhere.
Bitchin’ – Similar meaning to bangin’, in that it means awesome, or cool, but it’s mostly used for stuff, as opposed to people. Like, you’d maybe say that you’ve got a bitchin’ ride that you roll with through the neighborhood.
(The) Bomb – Means that something is really cool. In fact, there’s an even cringier variation on this: the bomb dot com, which I hear people STILL SAYING even know, much more often than I’m personally comfortable with. It’s just wrong.
Bling – Jewelry, typically gold or diamonds. This one’s another one that you may have heard of because people still use it. Timeless.
Booyah – More of an onomatopoeia, typically an expression of excitement. It’s usually used in a context where you’ve achieved something or done something to surpass a competitor.
Bounce – To leave. As in, “this is lame, let’s bounce”.
Buzzkill – Someone or something that has a depressing effect AKA ruins the fun. If there was something none of us wanted was to be called a buzzkill!
Chillax – Another way to say calm down your horses and relax. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it all began in an online ‘90s forum discussing Quentin Tarantino. “Chillax my friend. I agree with most of your sentiments about Tarantino and his use of violence as comedy,” someone posted sometime in December 1994, two months after the release of Pulp Fiction. And the rest, as they say, its history.
Chillin’ – Doing ok, relaxing. This one’s still being used, as well – maybe something like “What are you doing?” “Oh, you know, just chillin”.
Chill out – Chill or chill out means to relax or calm down. It’s used differently than chillin’, as chill out is typically appropriate in a context where someone is angry, anxious, or otherwise freaking out, so you’d tell them to just chill out.
Crib – House, home; also known as “pad”. I’m sure you’re familiar with this one, you must have seen MTV Cribs at least once in your miserable life.
Dawg – Friend, homie, dude. If you’ve ever seen Pimp My Ride or Xibit, I don’t think we can still be friends anymore.
Dope – This just means cool or awesome, and it can be used in pretty much any context. “That gig last night was pretty dope”, “Those jeans are dope”, “My parents are really dope” – see what I mean?
Dude – Man, friend, but can also be gender-neutral. Anyone can be a “dude” now, and it’s generally just used as a generic way to address someone: “Dude, let’s hurry up”, “There’s a dude over there who looks like Brad Pitt”, “Hey dudes, what’s up?”
Fine – Good-looking, hot, gorgeous. You would have often heard people talking about others and saying they were “fine” in the 90s. “That chick is some kind of fine!”
FYI – For your information. The 90s were all about contractions and expressing more complex thoughts more succinctly, and FYI is just one of the ones that stuck around, decades later. It’s usually used in casual conversation, and can be quite sarcastic.
Fly – Cool, awesome. You must know that awful song from the 90s, right? Pretty Fly For A White Guy? The Offspring got it right – a guy can be fly, or an outfit, or a situation, or your new gadget. Basically anything.
Freaking – An intensifier for whatever you want to say, but let’s be real – it’s a non-rude way of saying “f*cking”. Just like the word it replaces, freaking can be used in basically any place in a sentence and it works. “My freaking mom made me go to my room”, “My mom freaking made me go to my room”, “My mom made me freaking go to my room”, “My mom made me go to my freaking room”. See? SO versatile!
Freak out – Go ballistic, be anxious, be angry, be nervous; just generally having an unsettled state of being. Most people probably actually still use “freak out” to mean a variety of moods: “I got home late last night and my mom totally freaked out”, “Those shoes I wanted went on sale and I freaked out!”, “I heard a noise last night and it completely freaked me out”.
Fresh – Mostly used to mean “cool”, smart, clever. Even if you’ve never seen it, you’ve heard of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Will Smith was fresh. Actually, he still totally is.
Getto – Nasty, dirty, poor, cheap. Usually used to throw shade at something, like “That outfit she wore was totally getto”, “What is with that getto behavior?”, “My boyfriend took me to this horrible little pizza place last night, it was so getto”.
Going postal – Going crazy, going insane, freaking out. You don’t hear this one much anymore, mainly because it’s weird.
Harsh – Clueless is an endless source of 90s slang catchphrases! When Tai declares that Cher is “a virgin who can’t drive”, Cher answers, “That was way harsh, Tai.”
Hella – Word used for emphasis; qualifier, amplifier. Means “very”. “That exam was hella difficult”, “She wanted us to go out after, but I was hella bored already”.
Hey, Home Skillet – This is used to say hi to a friend.
Hit (it, that) – Have sex. Thankfully, no one really uses “I want to hit that” to mean they want to sleep with someone anymore.
Hoochie – Slutty, easy, etc. As in, Hoochie mama. “That gal was a total hoochie!”. Not a term that’s very nice or respectful towards women.
Ice – Diamonds. Not really used outside of rap songs, tbh. “Where are you going with all that ice?”
I’m Totally Buggin – Another great phrase from Clueless that means you are freaking out or flipping out. Perfect to use in a high-stress situation.
Jack – To steal something; also see “jacked”, meaning to damage something. “That car was jacked”
Jiggy – After Will Smith used it in his 1007’s hit “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” it acquired connotations of dancing, fun, and sex, not just getting nervous.
Mad – Word used for emphasis; very. “That guy has mad dribbling skills.”
Majorly – Consider, once again, Clueless. When Cher realizes she is in love she says to herself, “I’m majorly, totally, butt-crazy in love with Josh!”. And the rest is history.
My Bad – Used whenever you make a mistake to acknowledge that the responsibility lies with you.
No Duh – When someone is saying something that is absolutely obvious, you can say this instead of “no really”. Don’t forget to say it dripping with sarcasm.
Noob – This term means “beginner” and it made its first appearance in 1995, in a Usenet forum devoted to the band Phish. It has since been a lot in the gamer community when someone doesn’t know how to play or doesn’t know the basics.
Oh, Snap! – That’s what you would say after you found something truly surprising.
O.G. – Original gangster, but is typically used euphemistically and metaphorically.
Phat – Something that is awesome or otherwise hot and cool. See: “Baby Phat”, the slightly cringy label Kimora Lee Simmons came out with yonks ago.
Salty – Angry, jealous, bothered. This one is actually enjoying a huge resurgence right now, everyone’s using it.
Scrub – Broke, lame guy who thinks he’s all that. You’ll know this one from TLC’s timeless anthem, “No Scrubs”.
Snark – Snark is used to describe an attitude or expression of mocking irreverence and sarcasm.
Sup? – Short for “what’s up”, and a great way to greet someone.
Take A Chill Pill – Whenever you have someone that is getting on your last nerve, send them packing and tell them to relax with “take a chill pill”.
Talk To The Hand – If a friend is annoying you, put your palm up and tell them to “talk to the hand.” If they are 90s babies, they’ll know that is the end of that conversation.
Tight – Awesome, great. Tight can be used to refer to actions and events mostly, but not so much objects, you know what I mean?
Trippin’ – Criticizing someone or otherwise going off on them. It’s often used as a warning to other people “You trippin”.
Wack(ed) – Crazy, insane, unreasonable. It can certainly be an insult, but it’s mostly used as a semi incredulous statement about someone else. “That guy is wacked!”
Wicked – Intensity qualifier, very. Mostly of British origin, and still used, actually. You’ll hear people talk about that “Wicked cool pair of shoes”, or whatever.
Word – Generally speaking, “word” can be used to signal that you got the general idea of something someone is saying to you, or to express a tacit agreement with what is being said.
If you’re old enough to remember these, I hope you enjoyed this nostalgia-fueled trip down memory lane. If you’re only just now learning about these words and their meaning, your life has truly been too sheltered and I resent you for it. I’m also giving you homework: go watch some iconic 90s movies. Now split before I freak out on you.
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