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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.


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


“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.


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.


“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.


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.


“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."


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.


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.


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."


“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.


“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.


“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.


“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.


“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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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]