Slang Terms of the 1980’s

From the election of Ronald Reagan to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the 80’s (AKA the Eighties) was an era of popularizing slang. This decade saw the advent of MTV, Valley Girl culture, and TV hits like the Simpsons; of course it’s vernacular was going to explode. Here’s a list of the oddest or most well known terms:

Bag Your Face

Be quiet; shut up; hide your ugly mug. This hurtful term is theorized to have started from Valley Girls who needed another way to tell others to hush. Placing a paper bag with holes in it over one’s face was also to camouflage a less than pleasurable appearance (as popularized by the Unknown Comic in the 70s/80s).

Example: “My crush is coming over later, so either jet or bag your face and don’t embarrass me!”

Bomb Diggity

Awesome; outstanding. A modification of the term “hot diggity dog!” popularized during the 1920’s, combined with “the bomb” (a most excellent thing).

Example: “This burrito is beyond radical, it’s bomb diggity, dude.”


Good or great; of particular excellence. This word made an explosion during the 80’s as a way to describe something (a band, a t-shirt or anything really) as being correctly chosen. Choice has been used to describe agreement with a option for a very long time, but skateboarder culture took the term and expanded it’s usage.

Examples: “This ramen is choice, dude!” or “What do you think of this jacket? Choice?”

Gag Me With a Spoon

Used to show immense disgust. This one came from Valley Girl culture and originated in the mid-70’s, but only took off as common vernacular during the next decade. Gagging with a spoon or any long object was used to induce vomiting, which is common practice with people who have the emotional disorder bulimia nervosa. Bulimia and anorexia were on the rise during these two decades, and frequently seen in younger people. While the origin is quite dark, the phrase is used with some levity and sarcasm.

Example: “Ugh. They’re going to be at the party? Gag me with a spoon!”


Either really great, really terrible, or generally messed up. This one has been heavily debated in the hip hop slang world, and has transitioned from a derogatory (i.e. wack or rude) to a positive compliment (i.e. cool or relaxed). Chopping off the front of “chillin” is another theory of this word’s origin. Context is everything with this term and it shouldn’t be used without some serious know how.

Examples: “This new album is illin’, you have to hear it!” or “That punk was illin’ on me. They better watch themselves.”


Valley girl/boy. The San Fernando Valley culture boom in the 80’s lead to plenty of slang words popping up in “valspeak”. Vals are often thought of shallow or materialistic, but also fun seeking and extroverted. Within their own biosphere, the word was used with admiration to describe a like-minded individual, and could be used positively.

Example: “So many vals go to that school; all were ever going to talk about it shoes and clothes.”

Share this post if you got a kick out of it and if you know any fun eighties baby slang (or any slang), submit them on the home page. Catch ya later, slangers!

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