As an older student at UC Berkeley, I wonder if my classmates know the rich culture and lingo of the 1990s. Arguably the decade that most worshipped popular culture, the 1990s created and/or reproduced some unique trends in language through movies, television programs and music. Although seemingly easy to dismiss as archaic verbal relics of the past, could we repurpose those phrases and revive an entire vernacular that is in danger of being archived and forgotten? Let’s get down to the root of ’90s terms and phrases — those that would probably be laughed at by students who did not live during the decade — and be trendsetters as we use ’90s language in everyday life. After all, there is nothing more “dope” in trendsetting than revisiting popular culture of the past and bringing it into modernity. So, here are some words and phrases that should have never dropped out of usage and examples of how we can use them on campus.
As if! — an exclamatory term to mockingly deny a proposed scenario or personal interaction
The 1995 film “Clueless,” an iconic cultural staple of the ’90s teen movie genre, solidified “As if!” as the ultimate diss to unwanted romantic advances or unrealistic expectations. Ignoring that the term is completely void of any decipherable, inherent meaning, people will always understand what you mean if you pair this phrase with a dramatic eye roll and hair flip.
Campus example: “My professor expects me to take their midterm and complete a huge essay for the same class in the same week? As if!”
Bounce — to leave, depart
Synonymous with “dip” or “break out,” “bounce” is used to announce one’s exit from a social function or undesirable setting. While used mostly to alert your crew of your departure in case any of them need a ride from the party, it can be used in a multitude of situations in which one may have to politely excuse themselves. “Ey, man, I’m finna bounce, this party’s whack.”
Campus example: “The professor said in the syllabus that if they were 15 minutes late we were allowed to bounce.”
Bootsy — not cool, outdated, unoriginal
The Urban Dictionary traces the roots of this word back to Oakland, which is my hometown, so this may not be one that you remember as well as I do. Yet, its broad definition gives the word so many appropriate uses for different situations. For instance, my mother used it yesterday about a certain actress. The fluidity of the term makes for a universal understanding without further explanation. I didn’t need to inquire about my mother’s negative feelings toward this actress. She’s bootsy. Enough said.
Campus example: “I’m not going to lie, that lecture was bootsy. We didn’t learn anything new.”
Homeskillet — a term of endearment, somebody you trust in your home, a dear friend
Whenever you see “home” inside a slang term, you know the speaker is referring to somebody of great trust and importance to them. But where skillet came from? Hard to say. Maybe it’s because if they were really your homeskillet, they would make you some dinner in a skillet at your home.
Campus example: “Yeah, she definitely helped me study and was super patient with me. Even my mom liked her. That’s my homeskillet.”
Psyche! — just kidding, I lied, not really
The ultimate verbal prank in the ’90s, “psyche” was the antedated version of “Got ’em!” Although somewhat mean, if used in lighthearted fun it can make for a nostalgic laugh once the recipient understands what just happened.
Campus example: “Don’t worry, I had a lot of leftovers so I put them in the fridge for you and our other roommate to eat. Psyche! Don’t touch my food.”
You will get strange looks at first. Push past these. Your bold choice to resurrect phrases that people have long since stopped using regularly will be respected in time. Research more ’90s phrases as well; there are definitely some amazing ones.