Every culture has its own version of slang, whether it’s expletives, cheers or words that allude to an unsavory topic. Something we all know, but probably haven’t thought much about, is the slang that develops within a family. Author Paul Dickinson has written an entire book on the phenomenon, called Family Words.
Traveling with your family only highlights the unique (and yes, sometimes odd) phrases that evolve over time. Growing up in California meant my sisters and I were surrounded by Spanish phrases. Sometimes we’d mispronounce words on purpose, adding hard j’s and l’s where there should be soft ones (Fajita, Quesadilla) to make each other laugh. Then, we slipped up during a Christmas trip to Mexico, asking the waitress for our dinners with the most blatant American accents ever heard. We were embarrassed. She laughed. My dad still makes fun of us for it.
Read on for some of Dickinson’s funny (and surprisingly accurate) terms, excerpted from Richard Nordquist’s article on family speak.
Applaudience: An audience that has come to applaud; specifically, those composed of parents and grandparents at children’s piano and dance recitals.
BarrisLand: The place one goes when embarrassed, such as under a pillow or behind one’s hands.
Dofer: Something that isn’t perfect but will “do for” now. (And fanow, by the way, refers to “anything put away temporarily.”)
Game 6: A synonym for “disaster”–a reference to the sixth game of the 1986 World Series, lost by the Boston Red Sox after being just one pitch away from victory.
Menuitis: Having so many choices that you take forever to make up your mind.
Ventrilofart: The act of passing gas and blaming it on somebody else.
Does your family have slang terms for anything? Has it ever resulted in an (ahem) embarrassing situation?