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15 Phat Pieces of Clueless Slang

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Twenty years ago this week, Cher, Dionne, and their homies rolled into theaters, and we’ve been as if-ing ever since. Celebrate this modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma with these 15 colorful pieces of Clueless slang.

1. AS IF

“But Mr. Hall was totally rigid,” Cher says of her teacher. “He said my debates were unresearched, unstructured, and unconvincing. AS IF!”

While this adverbial phrase has existed since Old English times, as if as an expression of disdain and disbelief seems to have been popularized by Clueless. In the 1940s, the phrase as-ifness was coined by British philosopher H.H. Price, to mean, we presume, a state of as if.

2. WHATEVER

While whatever as a scornful or indifferent response has been around since at least 1973, Clueless popularized the "Whatever!" hand sign.

3. JEEPING

“You been jeepin' around behind my back?” Murray asks Dionne. This term for, as Dionne puts it, "vehicular sex," may come from hip-hop and rap, says writer and director Amy Heckerling. As for the word jeep, that's 1940s American military slang and comes from G.P., “general purpose (car),” but was also influenced by Eugene the Jeep, who was first introduced in the Popeye the Sailor comic strip in the 1930s.

4. OUTIE

While it’s not exactly clear when “I’m outie” meaning “I’m leaving” originated, the phrase most likely comes from an older slang term, “I’m out of here,” which is from the early 1970s.

However, there might also be influence from the phrase, “I’m Audi 5000,” which is from Reality Bites, released a year prior to Clueless. The phrase plays on the infamous mid-1980s car model that was found to have “sudden unintended acceleration.”

Other meanings of outie include a belly button that sticks out, as well as South African slang for a homeless person, or someone who’s down and out.

5. BETTY

“Wasn't my Mom a total betty?” says Cher. A betty is an attractive girl or woman and is often assumed to be 1980s surfer slang. However, according to Mr. Slang himself, Jonathan Green, the term actually comes from the 1970s and is based on Betty Rubble from the Flintstones.

6. LOADIE

Loadies generally hang on the grassy knoll over there,” Cher says dismissively of her high school's druggie clique. First used in the 1970s, loadie comes from loaded, which in the 18th century meant drunk and in the 1920s gained the additional meaning of being under the influence of drugs.

7. CHIN PUBES

“Oh, that's good,” Cher says to Josh’s declaration that he’s growing a goatee. “You don't want to be the last one at the coffee house without chin pubes.” Pube as slang for a single pubic hair originated in the late 1960s. However, pubes referring to pubic hair collectively is over 500 years old: "In adolencie when Pubes was springing."

8. PHAT

Phat!” Dionne says of the Shakespeare sonnet Cher cribs for Mr. Hall’s love note to Miss Geist. This term meaning excellent, fashionable, or cool, especially in regards to music, originated as African American slang in the early 1960s. Later, phat also came to be used to refer to a sexy or attractive woman.

9. SURF THE CRIMSON WAVE

A Cher original, surf the crimson wave means to have your period. Crimson Wave is also the (unfortunate) real-life nickname of the sports teams of Calumet College of St. Joseph in Whiting, Indiana. While the college was established in the 1950s, their athletic program wasn’t founded until 1999, four years after Clueless.

10. DIGITS

Cher and Dionne are delighted when Mr. Hall gets Miss Geist’s digits, or her phone number. This slang term has been in use since at least the 1980s with the first recorded reference in the 1989 LL Cool J song (ahem), "Big Ole Butt."

11. CAKE-BOY

“Your man Christian is a cake-boy,” Murray tells an incredulous Dionne and Cher. “He's a disco-dancing, Oscar Wilde-reading, Streisand ticket-holding friend of Dorothy, know what I'm saying?”

While cake-boy in this context refers to a homosexual man, it could also mean a man who’s especially stylish, also known as a metrosexual. Cake-boy probably originated in the early 1990s or earlier, and was popularized by Sir Mix-a-Lot’s song of the same name.

12. BUGGING

“I was like totally buggin’,” Cher says. Bugging, or freaking out, is from at least the early 1990s and probably originated in rap and hip-hop culture. The word might come from an earlier meaning of bug, to annoy or pester.

13. HYMENALLY-CHALLENGED

“Cher, you're a virgin?” asks Tai. “The PC term is ‘hymenally-challenged’,” Dionne interjects.

Actually, the idea that an intact hymen is a sure indicator that a woman is a virgin is largely a myth. While in the womb, the hymen might protect female fetuses from bacteria, but by adolescence it's usually completely worn away, often by non-sexual activities.

The word hymen comes from a Greek word meaning “membrane,” and is only indirectly related to Hymen, the Greek god of marriage.

14. MONET

“She’s a full on Monet,” says Cher. “From far away, it's OK, but up close, it's a big old mess.”

Monet originated in the early 1990s as California high school girl slang for "good-looking from a distance." Claude Monet’s art is an example of Impressionism, a technique of which is using dots and short brush strokes to capture the essence or impression of a subject, rather than definitive lines for a more exact representation.

15. BALDWIN

“Okay, okay, so he is kind of a Baldwin,” Cher says of Josh. Coined by Heckerling, a Baldwin is a good-looking guy and is named for the Baldwin brothers (Alec and William, we presume).

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25 Smart Synonyms You Should Be Using
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The word thesaurus literally means "repository" or "storehouse," and it ultimately comes from the same root as the word treasure. There's certainly some treasure to be unearthed in one, so in honor of Thesaurus Day, here are 25 smart-sounding synonyms to reboot your vocabulary.

1. INSTEAD OF "PAUNCHY," TRY USING "ABDOMINOUS."

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Derived from the same root as abdomen, if you're abdominous then you have a paunchy stomach, or a large, protruding belly.

2. INSTEAD OF "BAD LANGUAGE," TRY USING "BILLINGSGATE."

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Billingsgate was a famous fish market in central London. Thanks to the foul language of the people who worked there, the name eventually became synonymous with all coarse or abusive language.

3. INSTEAD OF "BAD IDEA," TRY USING "CACOETHES."

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Derived from the Greek "bad character," a cacoethes (that's "ka-ko-EE-theez”) is an insatiable desire to do something inadvisable.

4. INSTEAD OF "SKILLFUL," TRY USING "DAEDAL."

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Daedalus was the architect who built the Labyrinth in the ancient myth of the Minotaur, and, derived from his name, someone who is daedal is especially skilled or artful.

5. INSTEAD OF "CONFUSE," TRY USING "EMBRANGLE."

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A brangle is a squabble or a noisy argument, while to embrangle someone is to throw them into a quandary or to utterly perplex them. An embranglement, likewise, is a tricky, confusing situation.

6. INSTEAD OF "FEVERISH," TRY USING "FEBRILE."

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If you've come down with the flu you might be feeling febrile, or feverish. It might only be a febricula (that's a light or passing fever), but nevertheless, you might need a febrifuge (a drug that lowers your temperature).

7. INSTEAD OF "SLIPPERY," TRY USING "GLIDDERY."

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If something glidders, it freezes over, which makes something gliddery very slippery, as if covered in ice.

8. INSTEAD OF "GOOSE BUMPS," TRY USING "HORRIPILATION."

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That's the medical name for this curious phenomenon, which is also called gooseflesh, henflesh, or goose-pimpling.

9. INSTEAD OF "APPROPRIATE," TRY USING "IDONEOUS."

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It's a little on the old-fashioned side, but idoneous, derived from the Latin word idoneus, makes a perfectly, well, appropriate replacement for words like proper, fit, and suitable.

10. INSTEAD OF "BOASTING," TRY USING "JACTANCE."

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Derived from a Latin word meaning "to boast" or "speak out," jactance or jactancy is vainglorious boasting.

11. INSTEAD OF "RECOGNIZABLE," TRY USING "KENSPECKLE."

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A word from Scots dialect but with its roots in Scandinavia, kenspeck or kenspeckle means "easily recognizable" or "conspicuous."

12. INSTEAD OF "INDIFFERENT," TRY USING "LAODICEAN."

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Laodicea was a city in ancient Asia Minor. According to the biblical Book of Revelation, the people of Laodicea were known for their religious apathy, their fair-weather faith, and their lukewarm interest in the church—all of which prompted a pretty stern letter from St. John. As a result, a Laodicean is an apathetic, indifferent, or unconcerned person when it comes to religion.

13. INSTEAD OF "SMELLY," TRY USING "MEPHITIC."

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A mephitis is a noxious, foul-smelling fume emanating from inside the earth, and anything that smells as bad as that is mephitic. Case in point, skunks were known as "mephitic weasels" is the 19th century.

14. INSTEAD OF "MISER," TRY USING "NIPCHEESE."

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As well as being another name for a ship's purser (the steward in charge of the ship's accounts), a nipcheese is a mean, penny-pinching person. Feel free to also call your most miserly friend a nip-farthing, a shut-purse, a pinch-plum, or a sharp-nose.

15. INSTEAD OF "BEND," TRY USING "OBLIQUATE."

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Derived from the same root as the word oblique, if something obliquates then it turns or bends to one side.

16. INSTEAD OF "CONCISE," TRY USING "PAUCILOQUENT."

"Keep it Simple" written in book
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Ironically, the thesaurus is full of weird and wonderful words for people who don't say very much. As well as pauciloquent, people who like to keep things brief can be laconic, synoptic, or breviloquent.

17. INSTEAD OF "QUINTESSENCE," TRY USING "QUIDDITY."

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Quintessence is already a fairly smart-sounding word, but you can up the stakes with quiddity: Derived from a Latin word meaning "who," the quiddity of something is the very essence or nature of something, or a distinctive feature or characteristic.

18. INSTEAD OF "CHEERFUL," TRY USING "RIANT."

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Derived via French from the Latin word for "laugh," if you're riant then you're cheerful or mirthful. A riant landscape or image, likewise, is one that makes you happy or is pleasurable to look at.

19. INSTEAD OF "TWITCHY," TRY USING "SACCADIC."

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A saccade is an involuntary twitch or movement of the eye—and, figuratively, that makes someone who is saccadic characteristically fidgety, twitchy, or restless.

20. INSTEAD OF "EQUIVOCATE," TRY USING "TERGIVERSATE."

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To tergiversate literally means "to turn your back on" something, but more loosely, it means to dodge a question or issue, or to avoid a straightforward explanation.

21. INSTEAD OF "HOWL," TRY USING "ULULATE."

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Probably originally meant to be onomatopoeic, ululation is a howling sound like that made by wolves. More figuratively, to ululate can be used to mean "to bewail" or "lament."

22. INSTEAD OF "PREDICT," TRY USING "VATICINATE."

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Derived from the Latin word for a soothsayer or seer, to vaticinate is to prophesize or predict something.

23. INSTEAD OF "UNLUCKY," TRY USING "WANCHANCY."

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Wanchance is an old Scots dialect word for misfortune. Derived from that, the adjective wanchancy has fallen into more widespread use to mean "unlucky," "ill-fated," or in some contexts, "uncanny" or "eerily coincidental."

24. INSTEAD OF "LAST NIGHT," TRY USING "YESTERNIGHT."

There are more yester– words in the dictionary than just yesterday. As well as yesternight, there's yesterweek, yestereve, and yestermorn.

25. INSTEAD OF "CRITICISM," TRY USING "ZOILISM."

Zoilus was one of the harshest critics of the ancient Greek writer Homer, and he was known for his scathing, nit-picking attacks on Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. Derived from him, a zoilist is an overbearingly harsh critic, while unduly harsh criticism is zoilism.

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Love Hygge? Meet Lagom, Your New Favorite Scandinavian Philosophy
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The Danish concept of hygge is all about indulging in simple pleasures during the cold, dark winter months. In Sweden, people take a different approach to living their best lives: They focus on lagom, an idea that roughly translates to “not too much, not too little, just the right amount.”

As Condé Nast Traveler reports, lagom can be found everywhere in Swedish culture. Swedes might use it to describe the strength of their coffee or slip it into conversation with sayings like lagom är bäst (“lagom is best”). But you don't need to speak Swedish to embrace the concept. Condé Nast Traveler has a few tips for how to incorporate lagom into your own life no matter how far from Scandinavia you live.

One obvious place to practice lagom is in the home. Get rid of the clutter you haven’t used in years and hold onto items with practical value. But because lagom is all about balance, you should leave room in your house for objects with special aesthetic or sentimental value as well.

Lagom also has a place at work. If you’re someone who works non-stop from 9 to 5, remember to schedule time for breaks and really disconnect from your job during those times. It may feel like slacking off, but your work performance will actually benefit.

Finally, one of the most important ways Swedes express lagom is through day-to-day personal interactions. If you live according to the lagom philosophy, dominating the conversation isn’t a priority. Giving others room to speak, and even allowing comfortable silences to form, is more important.

Looking for another untranslatable European life philosophy to adopt this winter? In Scotland, Còsagach is how people stay cozy.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

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