50’s Slang Words and Phrases (80 Examples – Complete List)

The 50’s were an unbelievable decade in history. After the conclusion of the second world war, many were experiencing a boom in prosperity and the large growth in pop culture that followed along with it.

In the United States, it was becoming increasingly common to own a car. Pop culture therefore revolved heavily on this newfound freedom, and a whole slang lexicon developed around it.

We’ve done the research and found a bunch of 50’s slang words and phrases to demonstrate. See how many of them are about cars – and how many are things we still sometimes say today.


Table of Contents

50’s Slang Words and Phrases (in Alphabetical Order)

A

Actor

Meaning:

  • (Noun): If you think being an actor in the 1950’s was a good thing, you can think again! Rather than always referring to rich and famous cast members in Hollywood movies, actor was a term that referred to someone who was showing off or who was being two-faced.
  • Example: “Andrew is such an actor that I can hardly tolerate being around him.”

Agitate the Gravel

Meaning:

  • (Expression): An extremely rare and outdated 50’s phrase that means to leave, beat it, or scram.
  • Example: “Let’s agitate the gravel and go find something better to do.”

Ankle-Biter

Meaning:

  • (Noun): A somewhat derogatory term for a young child.
  • Example: “Pauline has five ankle-biters to contend with.”

Antsville

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Another kind of rare 50’s term. This one describes a location that’s overly crowded.
  • Example: “The passion pit is Antsville tonight. Why don’t we go find somewhere quieter?”

Ape

Meaning:

  • (Verb): In a state of excitement. In the 50’s, it was common to say you were “going ape” when you were really enthusiastic about something.
  • Example: “We’re going to go ape at the game later.”

Apple Butter

Meaning:

  • (Noun): When someone talks very smoothly or suavely.
  • Example: “Sounds like Russell fed you a load of apple butter on your date the other night.”

B

Baby

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Baby became an extremely common pet name for women in the 50’s. Of course, it’s still very popular today.
  • Example: “How are you doing, baby?”

Back Seat Bingo

Meaning:

  • (Noun): This is what people in the 50’s called making out with someone in the backseat of your car.
  • Example: “What do you say we play some backseat bingo at the passion pit tonight?”

Bash

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Any kind of celebratory event or party.
  • Example: “I’m going to go ape at Joan’s birthday bash later!”

Read Also: Slang Words for Party

Beat Feet

Meaning:

  • (Expression): To leave somewhere. See Agitate the Gravel.

Beatnik

Meaning:

  • (Noun): A beatnik is sort of like the predecessor of a hippie. This term describes a young person in the 50’s and beginning of the 60’s who partook in a counterculture movement. There’s a whole bunch of slang terms specifically used by beatniks.

Bee’s Knees

Meaning:

  • (Expression): In the 50’s, if something was the bee’s knees, it was awesome! You probably still hear this one occasionally today, especially when someone is joking.
  • Example: “That flick was the bee’s knees!”

Bitchin’

Meaning:

  • (Adjective): To be bitchin’ is to be great or amazing.
  • Example: “Rodney’s new car is bitchin.’”

Blanket

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Another somewhat uncommon slang term from the 50’s. This one refers to a sandwich.
  • Example: “I packed a couple blankets for us to eat later.”

Blast

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Any event or get-together that’s a lot of fun.
  • Example: “Don’t worry, the race will be a blast.”

Burn Rubber

Meaning:

  • (Verb): Here we see some of that 1950’s car slang in action. Burning rubber means you’re accelerating your car hard and pushing that pedal to the metal.
  • Example: “I hate when actors burn rubber as if it’s going to impress me.”

C

Chariot

Meaning:

  • (Noun): This is another car-related 50’s term. Your chariot was just another thing you could call your car.
  • Example: “Baby, your chariot awaits you here.”

Chrome Plated

Meaning:

  • (Expression): Although this slang phrase is inspired by cars, it’s not actually about them. When you’re chrome-plated, you’re all dressed up and decked out in your best clothes.
  • Example: “Kent is chrome-plated and looking handsome right now.”

Classy Chassis

Meaning:

  • (Expression): In the 50’s, people weren’t always as graphic as they can be today. So, if you wanted to compliment a woman’s figure, why not do so indirectly by referencing your car? That’s exactly what classy chassis does – it refers to an attractive female body.
  • Example: “Sylvia’s classy chassis keeps me dreaming all night long.”

Cooking with Gas

Meaning:

  • (Expression): When you’re doing something really well and it’s started working perfectly.
  • Example: “After struggling all morning to get my car working, we finally figured out the problem. Now, we’re cooking with gas!”

Crazy

Meaning:

  • (Adjective): Crazy wasn’t a bad thing in the 50’s. In fact, if you heard someone describe something as crazy, it meant good!
  • Example: “That’s a crazy dress, Christine!”

Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’

Meaning:

  • (Expression): This slang phrase was also common in the 60’s. If someone was cruisin’for a bruisin’, they were trolling someone or doing something annoying that would likely lead to them getting smacked.
  • Example: “If you don’t shut up, David, you’ll be cruisin’ for a bruisin’.”

Cut Out

Meaning:

  • (Expression): See Agitate the Gravel.

Cut the Gas!

Meaning:

  • (Expression): Unsurprisingly, here’s another car-centric slang expression. You say this when you want someone to be quiet.
  • Example: “If you don’t cut the gas, I’m going to beat feet and leave you behind.”

D

Daddy-O

Meaning:

  • (Noun): A way of referring to any guy that was popular with Beatniks.
  • Example: “Your chariot is the bee’s knees, daddy-o.”

Dibs

Meaning:

  • (Interjection): To stake a claim on something.
  • Example: “I got dibs on that seat, so you’ll have to find another one.”

Doo Wop

Meaning:

  • (Noun): A type of music that became extremely popular in the 50’s. Doo wop originated with African American artists the decade previous and features harmonized singing with oftentimes nonsensical phrases.
  • Example: “Do you listen to doo wop?”

Drag

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Drag has quite a different connotation today. In the 50’s, though, it often referred to a short car race that usually took place on a straight stretch of road.
  • Example: “I challenged him to a drag tonight.”

Dreamboat

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Someone who’s very attractive.
  • Example: “Mom says my dad used to be a dreamboat back in the day, but I don’t know if I believe her.”

Duck Butt

Meaning:

  • (Noun): A type of men’s hairstyle that was very prevalent in the 50’s. Think greased up and brushed back so it looks like a duck’s butt. Imagine John Travolta’s character in Grease. This hairstyle is also sometimes called duck’s ass if you’re being more vulgar.
  • Example: “I’m so embarrassed of the duck butt I used to have when I was young.”

Dullsville

Meaning:

  • (Adjective): Any place, event, or even person that’s painfully boring.
  • Example: “This flick is dullsville. Let’s agitate the gravel.”  

E

Earth Pads

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Your shoes.
  • Example: “What do you think of these earth pads?”

F

Fast

Meaning:

  • (Adjective): This one could sometimes be used insultingly. A fast person is someone who’s sleeping around with people.
  • Example: “Be careful with her, Frank – she’s fast.”

Fat City

Meaning:

  • (Adjective): Don’t worry – this phrase isn’t negative. If something is fat city, it’s actually a great place to be.
  • Example: “Wow, this bowling alley is fat city!”

Fire Up

Meaning:

  • (Expression): To turn on your car.
  • Example: “Fire up and get ready to burn rubber.”

Flat Out

Meaning:

  • (Expression): Doing something quickly.

Flat Top

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Another type of men’s hairstyle that was popular in the 50’s. Picture a buzz cut with a bit of hair on top that forms a flat shelf.
  • Example: “Flat tops are outdated nowadays.”

Flick

Meaning:

  • (Noun): 50’s slang for a movie. The word comes from how frames flickered on the screen because of projectors at the time.
  • Example: “Want to watch a flick with me tonight?”

Flip

Meaning:

  • (Verb): Getting excited or enthusiastic. See Ape.

Floor It

Meaning:

  • (Verb): You’ve probably heard this one said on occasion today. Flooring it refers to pushing the gas pedal to the floor to speed away.
  • Example: “Floor it, Jerry! They’re catching up to us!”

G

Get Bent

Meaning:

  • (Expression): An insulting term and dismissal. It’s kind of like telling someone to “f*** off.”
  • Example: “I told Bobby to get bent after he told me I had a classy chassis.”

Get Your Kicks

Meaning:

  • (Expression): To have fun.
  • Example: “I get my kicks from driving my chariot around town.”

Gig

Meaning:

  • (Noun): A job.
  • Example: “Got my first day at the gig tomorrow to look forward to.”

Goose It

Meaning:

  • (Verb): To accelerate your car. See Floor It.

Greaser

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Men who used a lot of grease to slick their hair back. Once again, you can think about John Travolta in Grease as a point of reference.

H

Have a Cow

Meaning:

  • (Expression): To get overly excited or even upset about something.
  • Example: “Don’t have a cow, Mary. Everything will be fine.”

Heat

Meaning:

  • (Noun): A Beatnik term used for the police.
  • Example: “Let’s agitate the gravel – the heat are coming.”

K

Knuckle Sandwich

Meaning:

  • (Noun): A punch in the face.
  • Example: “If you keep talking to my girl Nancy, I’ll feed you a knuckle sandwich.”

L

Lay a Patch

Meaning:

  • (Expression): To accelerate so fast, you leave rubber marks on the asphalt. See Burn Rubber.

M

Made in the Shade

Meaning:

  • (Expression): To be guaranteed to succeed in something.
  • Example: “He’s got it made in the shade, since his dad owns that company he’s working in.”

Make Out

Meaning:

  • (Verb): To kiss someone passionately for an extended period of time. See Backseat Bingo.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…

Meaning:

  • (Expression): This phrase comes from western tv shows that were popular at the time. You would say it to cut someone’s story short and indicate that they were talking too much.
  • Example:
  • Person 1: “I went on a date with him, and he took me to see a flick, then we went to a diner, then we drove around in his chariot, then…”
  • Person 2: “Meanwhile, back at the ranch…”

N

Nerd

Meaning:

  • (Noun): A dorky person with little social ability.
  • Example: “I could never date a nerd like Timothy.”

No Sweat

Meaning:

  • (Expression): Another way of saying no problem. You would say this to accept someone’s apology or as a way of saying, “you’re welcome.”
  • Example:
  • Person 1: “Thanks for helping me fix up my chariot this weekend.”
  • Person 2: “No sweat.”

O

On Cloud 9

Meaning:

  • (Expression): This is an expression you’ve likely heard today. When you’re on cloud 9, you’re in a state of bliss.
  • Example: “After drinking that milk shake, Allan was on cloud 9.”

P

Pad

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Your place of residence.
  • Example: “Want to come back to my pad after the flick?”

Party Pooper

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Here’s another phrase with some staying power, as you’ll still hear it said today occasionally. A party pooper is someone who always puts a damper on things. You might also call them a negative Nancy or Debby Downer.
  • Example: “Don’t invite Frederick to the bash. He’s a real party pooper.”

Passion Pit

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Drive-in movie theater.
  • Example: “I’m going to catch a flick at the passion pit tonight.”

Peepers

Meaning:

  • (Noun): A pair of glasses.
  • Example: “I need to be careful not to lose my peepers.”

Pound

Meaning:

  • (Verb): To beat someone in a fight.
  • Example: “I’m going to pound Alvin later for talking to my girlfriend.”

Punch It

Meaning:

  • (Expression): See Floor It.

R

Razz my Berries

Meaning:

  • (Expression): To be excited by something.
  • Example: “That flick I saw last night really razzed my berries.”

Rod

Meaning:

  • (Noun): See Chariot.

Royal Shaft

Meaning:

  • (Noun): To be mistreated or abused by someone.
  • Example: “I got the royal shaft from Carrie after she heard a rumor that I was cheating on her.”

S

Scream

Meaning:

  • (Verb): To speed off in a direction.
  • Example: “He came screaming down the street in his new rod.”

Screamer

Meaning:

  • (Noun): See Chariot.

Sing

Meaning:

  • (Verb): To spill the beans or tell someone on someone else.
  • Example: “We’ll make you sing like a canary if you don’t tell us the truth.”

Souped Up

Meaning:

  • (Adjective): A car that has been modified so it can be faster.
  • Example: “Riding in Ray’s souped up rod is a blast.”  

Split

Meaning:

  • (Verb): To depart from a location.
  • Example: “This place is antsville. Let’s split and go somewhere less crowded.”

Square

Meaning:

  • (Noun): A boring, ordinary person. Someone who doesn’t stand out from the crowd.
  • Example: “The last thing I want to be in this life is a square.”

Stacked

Meaning:

  • (Adjective): A way to describe a well-endowed woman.
  • Example: “Joann is so stacked.”

T

Threads

Meaning:

  • (Noun): Your clothes.
  • Example: “I love your new threads, Pearl.”

Tight

Meaning:

  • (Adjective): To be close friends with someone.
  • Example: “Peggy and Julia are tight.”

Total

Meaning:

  • (Verb): You hear it said often today that someone totaled their car. Well, that phrase originated in the 1950’s, where it first meant completely wrecking your ride.
  • Example: “Michael’s worst nightmare would be totaling his car.”

W

Wazoo

Meaning:

  • (Noun): A slang word for butt in the 1950’s.
  • Example: “Watch your wazoo!”

More Like This: Slang Words for Butt

What’s Buzzin’ Cuzzin?

Meaning:

  • (Expression): A casual greeting in the 1950’s. It was like saying “what’s up” or “how’s it going” today.

What’s Your Tale, Nightingale?

Meaning:

  • (Expression): A way to ask someone for the details or the scoop.
  • Example:
  • Person 1: “I had the worst night of my life with Charlie.”
  • Person 2: “What’s the tale, nightingale?”

Wig Chop

Meaning:

  • (Noun): A haircut.
  • Example: “I got a wig chop this weekend. What do you think of it?”

With It

Meaning:

  • (Adjective): Being cool or in-the-know.
  • Example: “Lois has always been with it. I watch her to keep on top of trends.”

Word from the Bird

Meaning:

  • (Expression): This phrase just means that you’re telling the truth. You would say it to indicate that you’re being honest about something.
  • Example: “I heard Lois saying she likes you, word from the bird.”

Wrap Up

A lot of the slang used in the 50’s is still commonly used today. However, there’s still quite a lot of it that’s outdated – have you heard anyone saying things like word from the bird or apple butter lately?

If you’d like to see much more modern slang, read our list of 90’s slang words and phrases. You’ll probably come across a lot more that you know the meaning of or still hear today.

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