The Beatles, Vietnam, and Free Love—the 1960s was a time of cultural shifts. From the rising feminist movement to radical hippies and neon peace signs, people challenged the status quo and expressed themselves through music, fashion, and language.
And when it comes to language, the 60s gave us some of the weirdest, wildest, and coolest slang words ever. Whether hippie or square, the 60s slang defined an era and still resonates today.
Picture snapping fingers and black beanies, and you’ve got a good idea of the beatnik scene. This term referred to the subculture of artists and writers who emphasized individuality and nonconformity. Beatniks were often dedicated to poetry, jazz, and Eastern religions.
What comes to mind when you hear about a 60s Halloween costume? Most likely, a hippie. These members of the counterculture embraced peace, love, and freedom while rejecting the status quo. They were known to wear bright colors and loose-fitting clothes and grow their hair long regardless of gender.
It’s all good. Copasetic means everything is fine. It originates from the Black American jive culture of the 1920s. Years later, beatniks and hippies adopted it.
The word copasetic comes from the word copacetic, which means “completely satisfactory” or “perfect”. If all is well, then it’s copasetic.
Ever heard someone talk about getting more bread? In the 60s, this term had nothing to do with baked goods. Bread became a way to refer to cash.
It’s a term still used today to describe money and remains popular, particularly with musicians and entertainment.
This term is simple enough, as its slang meaning has a lot to do with its dictionary definition. Heavy describes some experience or event that is weighty and serious.
However, heavy also means profound. Movies, books, and people could all be “heavy” if they conveyed something deep and had a meaningful impact.
Perhaps the most famous of the 60s slang, groovy, means cool, awesome, or excellent. Young people typically used it to describe parties or fun events. The term found its way into countless songs, movies, TV shows, and advertisements of the era.
If groovy was the epitome of coolness, square was the complete opposite. Think of someone boring, conventional, or otherwise uncool—that’s square. This term also describes people who refuse to take risks or go against the norm.
Square could be applied to more than just people: suits, ties, jobs—anything that was too conformist or conservative was dubbed this label. Those in the counterculture used square to criticize anything mainstream.
Dig was used to express understanding. To dig something means you got it, appreciated it, or enjoyed it. If you’re on the same wavelength as someone or something else, you dig it. It can apply to music, art, fashion, politics—you name it.
9. Peace Out
Peace out is a popular parting today, but this way of saying goodbye started in the 60s. With war raging overseas and young men losing their lives to the draft, peace was a dream and a wish of the era. It still holds a special place in the hearts of many.
10. The Fuzz
Challenging authority was big in the 60s, and there was no greater authority in the neighborhood than the fuzz.
This term was used to describe police officers. It is thought to have originated from the texture of cop uniforms or the appearance of their haircuts.
Though the era was defined by protests and civil disobedience, the fuzz was not necessarily a derogatory term.
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It’s “freaky” to think about this term as starting during a particular era, as it is perhaps the most widely used of those on this list. Freaky was born in the 60s and describes something that was strange, bizarre, wild, or unconventional. Today it conveys the same meaning and has become essential to the American lexicon.
This article was produced and syndicated by TPR Teaching. Source.
I'm an Irish tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK, Spain, and online.
I love learning new things about the English language and how to teach it better. I'm always trying to improve my knowledge, so I can better meet the needs of others!
I enjoy traveling, nature walks, and soaking up a new culture. Please share the posts if you find them helpful!