Slang Words & Phrases in 1991

1991 Slang & New WordsThese words were used so frequently in 1991 that they became a common part of every day language. These words aren’t only slang, some of them were just finally used so much that it was time to admit that are words and/or phrases.

Many of the phrases listed below we use every day now. They didn’t become excessively popular until 1991.


Afrocentric (afro sen’trik) adj. regarding Africa as the source and center of African-American culture; Bethel is proudly Afrocentric — a bright mural of African faces is painted over the altar (Time).

artificial life, lifelike organisms created and existing in a computer: They are creating a field called artificial life, mining the impulses of biology with the tools of computation (New York Times).

artificial reality, an environment created by computer graphics that appears three-dimensional and real: Artificial reality – . . relies on the techniques of interactive computer graphics to create the illusion of navigating (Time).

attack politics, a political campaign that attacks the character or reputation of an opponent rather than political issues: The I-Ielms-Gantt race . . . provides a stark commentary on both the efiectiveness—and the hollow core — of the attack politics of the 1990’s (New York Times Magazine).

Baby Bell, any of the regional telephone companies originally a part of the national American Telephone and Telegraph Company.

blader (bla’dar) n. a person who skates using blades; “Every weekend It’s a battle between the cyclists and the bladers” (Time).

boarder baby, U.S. an infant or young child who Is kept indefinitely in a hospital because the parents are not able or legally permitted to assume custody; A good example of a boarder baby would be a child born addicted to drugs as a result of [the] mother’s addiction (New York

boom box, a large portable radio, often combined with a cassette player; ghetto blaster; Advertising trucks equipped with monstrous boom boxes are cruising East German towns blaring rock music interspersed with advertising blurbs (Time).

bungee cord, an elastic cord with hooks at both ends, used to hold bulky items In place, as on top of a car or a bike rack.

call-out (kol’out), n. a summons Into service or for some special duty or purpose; an emergency crew’s response to a call-out: a call-out of the National Guard.

catalytic antibody, an enzyme that is designed to speed chemical reactions in certain substances In an organism; Scientists have designed many catalytic antibodies known also as abzymes (Science News).

collateral damage, the killing of civilians or damaging of nonmilitary structures in the course of conducting bombing raids or other military operations; Avoidance of collateral damage means “trying not to kill civilians” (New York Times Magazine).

crack baby, a baby born with various disabilities or deformities caused by the mother’s use of crack-cocaine while pregnant; The most widely cited estimate— [of] fetally exposed babies (or “crack-babies”), born per year is much too high (Washington Post).

dancehall (dans’hol’. dans’-) n. dance music that is an electronic mixture of various popular music styles accompanied by talking or rapping to the rhythm of the music; Historically. [Jamaican] dancehall can be viewed as the antecedent to American rap (Rolling Stone). —dance ‘-hall’, adj.

date rape, the act of having forced sexual intercourse with a female while on a social date; The popular term is the narrower “date rape.” which suggests an ugly ending to a raucous night on the town (Time).

dis (dis), v.f. dissed, dissing. Slang to show disrespect; scorn; We hope that you guys don’t dis us for it (New York Magazine).

DJ-ing, (de ja’Ing) n. talking over or with a recording, in time to the beat of the music; The guys who spin the songs would rap on top of the rhythm, which we call DJ-ing (Rolling Stone).

eco-safe (e’ko saf), adj., -safier, -safest, ecologically safe; not likely to damage the environment: Eco-safe products for the home — biodegradable garbage bags, toilet paper and dishwashing soap, and water-conservation kits (Rolling Stone).

e-mail (e’mal’), n, or E mail, communications sent by computer; electronic mail.

eye candy, something or someone pleasing to look at: But most actresses are accessories, used for supportive warmth or eye candy (Vanity Fair).

faux (fo). adj fake; imitation; In Cleveland a plagiarism suit between two faux Elvises resulted in the defendant’s singing “Bumin’ Love” in an actual courtroom (Spy Magazine). [<F faux fake]

fetal alcohol syndrome, a group of physical and mental defects in a newborn, including retardation, resulting from the consumption of too much alcohol by the mother during pregnancy; French researchers first identified what has come to be called the “fetal alcohol
syndrome” (malformations and behavioral damage) (New Scientist).

glass ceiling, an Intangible barrier that prevents a person’s advancement to higher executive positions: In climbing the corporate ladder they [women] collide with a “glass ceiling” of subtle discrimination (New York Times).

good cop. bad cop. 1.) a technique of interrogating suspects by a team of two police officers in which one oflicer is friendly and easygoing and the other Is combative and easily angered. 2.) any partnership where one person is friendly and relaxed and the other tense and diflicult: “‘There are many partnerships in Hollywood where it’s “good cop, bad cop,” says one
studio executive (Spy Magazine).

good-cop. bad-cop (gud’kop bad’-kop). adj. having both good and bad
qualities or characteristics; opposite; It’s a good-cop, bad-cop story of
psychological subtlety (Time).

green consuming, the use of products that do not damage the environment; Although “green consuming” in the supermarket has largely been a matter of what to avoid rather than what to buy, this is changing (Philadelphia Inquirer).

Green Party, a European political movement that represents environmental interests; These organizations, often known as Green Parties, have had a growing influence on environmental policies in Western Europe (Alan McGow-an).

happy camper, someone who is well-behaved and contented with his or her situation; “She’s a happy camper. She’s a doll. Tamba . . . threw her trunk above her head like a lady flinging open a parasol.” (New Yorker).

hard dock, a joining of orbiting spacecraft by mechanical coupling: Finally they . . . [carried] out a dramatic series of maneuvers — and achieved a hard dock (Newsweek).

hate crime, a crime usually committed by a group against an individual and motivated by prejudice; Human-rights activists say San Diego”s racial attacks are a microcosm of hate crimes flaring nationally (Time).

hot button, a matter of Immediate Interest or concern; Graphics and bright colors highlight stories on baby-boomer “hot buttons,” such as the environment, divorce, personal finance, etc. (Wall Street Journal).

human shield. 1 any person or group of people who acts as a shield against some danger. 2 a person or group of people. Including civilians, prisoners of war, or other noncombatants held hostage at a location of strategic military importance to protect it from enemy attack; by
vowing to deploy the POWs as human shields, . . . Saddam aimed to curtail the allied aerial campaign, the plan backfired (Time), -hu’man- shield. adj.

lake effect, the efiect of a large inland lake on weather systems passing over it: But there’s a positive side to Superior too. Thanks to the lake effect, temperatures even in mid-winter average between 15 and 30 degrees (Lands’ End Catalog).

la-la (la’la’), adj. divorced from reality; unreal; dreamy: [Easterners] think this IS la-la land out here . . . in Southern California. They probably think we’re doing this interview in a Iacuzzi (Vanity Fair).

mainstream smoke, tobacco smoke inhaled by a smoker: Mainstream smoke, but not sidestream. has been linked to cancers of the mouth, throat, voice box . . . kidney and pancreas (Sunday Times).

medigap (med’a gap’), n. a policy of supplemental health insurance thatprovides coverage of some or all medical, hospital, and other costs of health care not provided by Medicare and Medicaid: Revised medigap policies were required this year. . . About 22 million of 33 million Medicare beneficiaries have supplemental insurance (Nevi! York Times).

mercy killer, a person who commits a mercy killing: judges and juries across the country have been remarkably lenient on family members who become mercy killers (Time).

metal head (met’sl hed’), n. a person who is a devotee of heavy-metal music: “I was under the impression he was a metalhead. He does like heavy metal. But he’s unusually well read. He was reading Shakespeare” (New York Times).

music video, a videotape recording of a visual display accompanying a popular song; video.

negative campaigning (kam pa’ning), the political tactic of campaigning against an opponent’s character instead of for particular positions on certain issues: “If there hadn’t been negative campaigning, no one would have had anything to talk about. ” says [a] political scientist (Time).

notebook computer, a portable computer that IS about the size of a notebook: The company describes both models as “notebook” computers judged as lightweight laptops, though, the new . . models are very impressive (New York Times).

nut ball, an odd, eccentric, or slightly crazy person: She’s a nutball. a crazy, difficult — she’s got the director’s migraine rep (Vanity Fair).

phone bank, a group of telephones connected to the same number used to canvass voters, survey consumers, or raise money for some cause or institution: Senator Bentsen’s organization and his phone banks and his campaign pushed the turnout way up (Atlantic).

politically correct, socially acceptable within a certain group: These detractors see books added to reading lists because they are “politically correct”— because they portray, for example, a strong woman battling a sexist society — while books of proven merit are condemned. . . [as] “politically incorrect” (New York Times Magazine).

poster boy, a person who is the perfect example of something; symbol: With the release of government documents spelling out the conflict-of-interest allegations . . – Neil Bush replaced Charles Keating as the SSL poster boy (Time).

Patriot (pa’tre at), n. a surface-to-air, computer-guided missile.

quality time, time spent exclusively with a child or as a family: Publicity whiz Suzanne Eagle puts a spin on quality time by working out while walking the baby (Vanity Fair).

rad, (rad), adj. Slang, terrific; fantastic; radical.

reclama (ra kla’ms), n. a request or appeal to reconsider a decision, proposed action, or policy: Margaret Thatcher, wrote . . . Schlesinger. . . in 1986. “appeared at Camp David to deliver a reclama on Reykjavik” (New York Times Magazine).

Rolodex (ro’lo deks), n. a person’s list of acquaintances, friends, and valued associates: Right m the middle of the head, just underneath the hairline is the location of a person’s Rolodex (Washington Post). [<Rolodex, trademark for a personal directory]

shareware (shar’war’), n. computer software available free from other users or at very low cost from producers or vendors: it is perfectly legal, and even encouraged, to distribute copies of shareware and public-domain programs. Not so with other software (Sunday Times).

sidestream smoke, n. tobacco smoke emitted into the air by smoldering cigarettes, cigars, and pipes.

smoke and mirrors, manipulation, or an obscunng of fact to achieve some desired result; deception: He promised decisive action. But when he unveiled his “plan.” it was all smoke and mirrors (New York Times).

trackball (trak’bol), n. a device to control a cursor or other image on a computer display screen: A trackball has the ball on top. where you move it with your fingers (Sunday Times).

virtual reality, l an environment created by computer graphics that appears three-dimensional and real and through which the computer operator can move by using special equipment: I was sitting in a room crowded with strangers, but within the space of my virtual reality. I was totally alone (Time).

voice mail, a system for communication by telephone that records messages electronically for later retrieval by subscribers who dial a central computer to get the messages stored under a subscriber’s identification number: Hyatt Hotels Corp . . using technology to upgrade service . . . begins installing voice mail (Wall Street Journal).

white bread, n. Informal a member of afiluent white society or the society and its values: But part that hippie hair and he’s white bread, no matter how you slice him (Vanity Fair).

yin and yang, people or things totally different from each other; opposites: “They were like two book ends: they were like yin and yang. They were alter egos” (Vanity Fair).

zapper (zap’ar), n. 1.) a remote control for a television set or a videocassette player: The people of America are armed with the zapper. the . . . remote-control program annihilator (Details). 2 a person who uses a remote control for a television set.


About Paul Phipps

Paul loves history. He literally read the entire 1987 World Book Encyclopedia when he was 23 years old. His expertise ranges across the entire spectrum of pop culture. He specializes in vintage clothing, sports collectibles, vinyl records and tin toys.

What do you remember?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *