Beat it, man

maynard g. krebs the beatnik friend of dobie gillis
image via

Let’s give it up for the Beats/Beatniks. They knew how to craft some memorable slang. Those cats from the 1950s may have passed from social prominence, but you gotta hand it to ‘em — they knew how to cook up some words.

You can’t necessarily say that about the slang from other eras. Call something “groovy” (1960s) and you’re clearly out of touch by several decades. Or, at least you better be saying it ironically. Heard anyone call someone else “the bee’s knees” (1920s) lately? Didn’t think so.

Far out, man (1970s). Not (1990s).

As for the Beats, their slang just might be making a comeback. If it isn’t, then I say we start bringing it back right now. Mental Floss recently compiled a fun list of 26 Beatnik slang terms that deserve a comeback. I say we make it happen!

From Mental Floss:

Here are 26 words and phrases that don’t get much use today, but are worth sneaking into conversation:

1. A shape in a drape

A well-dressed person. “Usually she just wears jeans, but she sure is a shape in a drape in that dress.”

2. Bright disease

To know too much. “He has bright disease. Make sure he doesn’t rat us out.”

Read the full text here.

For the record, I was a pearl diver, once. I lasted two shifts. I tend to do a lot of interviewing my brains when I’m in my lead sled. Noodle that out, will ya?


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Julian Rogers is a contributor to WiseTribe, Oregon Sports News, OregonLive (the Oregonian), Comcast Sports Net,,, and other websites. He is a native Washingtonian who spent six years in Alaska. He still does not understand the appeal of hockey or dog sled racing. He has made an uneasy peace with social media and can be found on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and WordPress. He has two beautiful children and one tolerant wife, who is also beautiful.

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