Gag Me With A Spoon

August 11, 2014


By Gabrielle. Max here.

I’m not even sure where he first heard it, but the other day, Oscar asked me what “gag me with a spoon” meant. And that question turned out to be a trip wire of sorts — we ended up spending an evening talking about phrases and words that have fallen out of fashion since Ben and I were kids. The conversation highlights:

“Grody” and “grody to the max” got the biggest response. They all thought the word and phrase sounded horrible and they were glad it was gone.

In my hometown, St. George, the word “nivey” was popularized during my high school years, but I don’t think anyone ever used it again the moment they graduated. It had a negative meaning, as in, “Ugh, I’m having such a bad hair day. I look nivey.” Unfortunately (or fortunately?) I don’t think it ever took off with the population at large. Whenever I hear it now, I think of that line in Mean Girls: Gretchen, stop trying to make fetch happen! It’s not going to happen!

But the one that the kids marveled at the most was, “You think you’re hot snot on a silver platter, but really you’re a cold booger on a paper plate.” This was the ultimate insult in my elementary school circa 1984. Anyone else? I laughed when Maude pointed out to me that she wouldn’t want to be either snot or a booger. Hah! Apparently, my 9 year old self had never considered that.

Of course, the conversation made me curious. What phrases or words have passed out of your vocabulary since you were a kid? Anything particularly memorable? Can’t wait to hear!

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Camille August 11, 2014 at 7:07 am

Mine was mamba jambas! It was the replacement swear word, Holy mamba jambas! Got a paper cut, Mamba Jambas! Couldn’t get my locker open and running late to class, mamba jambas! :)


2 Sarah August 11, 2014 at 8:23 am

My five year old daughter said “grody the max” recently upon viewing her brother’s diaper contents. I don’t know where that came from!


3 Lisa August 11, 2014 at 8:34 am

Good googa-mooga! No idea where that came from (or how to spell it!).
Heard at our Jr.-Sr. High, mid 1970s, small town, Indiana. Anyone else use that expression?


4 CC August 11, 2014 at 9:34 am

Ever since I was a small child everyone in my family says, “Don’t mix your spinach’s” when you’re trying to make a point or comparison that just doesn’t wash. It wasn’t until a year ago when a cousin’s husband looked at us and said “Really! What does that even mean!!!” that we all began an investigation backwards to Grandparents in Argentina and even Great-Grandparents in England …. and all realized that no one else in the world says this and it must have come from a family member or encounter that at the time made sense. Nevertheless from children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles my 80 year old mother and many friends across the globe we all still use this phrase and know exactly what it means to us.


5 Jeanne August 11, 2014 at 10:11 am

“Bitchen” was a popular one that I always felt a little bad about using, but RAD was one I used, but use again currently, because I was tired of saying awesome all the time. I like the word RAD. My kids kind of make fun of me, but it’s okay.


6 Sally from Little Hiccups August 11, 2014 at 10:18 am

I’m about your age and I have no idea what any of those words mean – I had to google them! I guess it all depends on where you grow up.

This made me think about the Australian & British words that I use that none of my American friends understand. I often don’t realise that a word I use is unknown here in America until I use it and get blank looks from people! Once I complained to a friend about all of the “rubbish bins blocking the footpath”. She had no idea what I was talking about until I translated it to “trash cans blocking the sidewalk”!

I read this funny piece on Buzzfeed a few days ago about commonly used Australian slang words and what Americans might think they mean. Some of the guesses are pretty hilarious – and plenty are on the rude side (just a warning).

Oh, and despite what this Buzzfeed piece says, a “ripper” is also a huge fart ;)


7 Danielle Blake August 11, 2014 at 11:13 am

I’m first generation American and was practically raised by my British colonial ex-pat grandparents. As a result I still have this problem. My husband often looks at me and says, ‘That’s a Britishism. Americans don’t say that.”


8 Jmac August 13, 2014 at 8:28 pm

When my British husband was just back home in England he realised he says – what’s the skinny? – quite a bit and nobody knows what he means. It is an Americanism.


9 Sabrina August 11, 2014 at 10:58 am

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that my parents gave me a box of letters they found in their basement. They were letters I had saved going all the way back to Jr. High from my friends. One word that was used quite often was “Rotten”.
Like if someone was being a jerk or rude, they would be labeled “Rotten”. I remember now using that word a lot, but evenutually we did phase it out.


10 Barchbo August 11, 2014 at 10:58 am

Oh, Max Headroom! Isn’t hard to believe he was SO cool?

Your list made me laugh – all of yours were definitely of my era. Long live the Valley Girl!


11 Ceci Bean August 11, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Tubular and Excellent and Bogus? Too much influence from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, I think.

I’m curious if your children say “Hella” or “Hecka” at all. I know I say “hella” too much for an adult, but it is hard not to say it in the Bay Area!


12 Amy from Swag on, Momma! August 11, 2014 at 1:36 pm

I always said, “cool beans!” (Maybe people still do??) When we had a japanese exchange student staying with our family she said, “Cold beans? Are you saying Cold Beans?” with a very confused look. Ha…we laughed and just explained that we are weird. :)


13 Anita August 14, 2014 at 12:28 pm

I’m 32 and still say “cool beans” a lot! My son picked it up when he was 3 and people thought he was pretty cute saying it. ;-)


14 Sara August 11, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Duh! Whatever! Dude! As if! :)


15 Kristi August 11, 2014 at 4:49 pm

” Heres’s a brownie button”. Haha we said that when someone wanted recognition for something. I’m a couple of years older than you, but I’m not sure if that was just a saying in our area?

Also, NOT! As in, I like your hair, NOT! So rude!

Funny post, I enjoyed it.


16 Sarah heat August 11, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Don’t have a cow.


17 Amy August 11, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Like, awesome. My kids think this is current slang because we use it so much. That’s like, a little sad.


18 Heidi August 12, 2014 at 9:33 pm

Loved the photo of Max Headroom. The actor who played Max Headroom, Matt Frewer lives not far away from us, and it was secretly amusing to me to see him at my son’s graduation in June. (His daughter is friends with my son, and graduated as well, but I’ve never met her dad) Brings back memories of the 80′s, that coolest decade ever!


19 Jill August 13, 2014 at 11:05 am

Hella! I grew up in the Bay Area :) We also said Gag me with a spoon quite often in high school. I still say Excellent a lot. Loved the 80′s!


20 Justine August 13, 2014 at 2:56 pm

“doy” — haha.


21 Erin August 14, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Ha ha- Our absolute worst insult (pre grade 4) was “fleabag”. we called each other that all the time. In grade 4 everyone said “no, duh”, it meant “I knew that” or “That’s obvious”


22 Colleen August 16, 2014 at 10:24 pm

My mom has some real gems. My favorite is “Well pin a rose on your nose!” It’s like a sarcastic “good for you.”


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