Awesomely Outdated Phrases of the ’90s

No matter how good a conversation may be going, there are a number of trigger words and phrases that can make a perfectly sailing ship veer right into rocky waters, along with anything from pet rocks to slap bracelets to pogs. If you’re unsure about outdated phrases of the ’90s that can potentially railroad your semi-articulate reputation, it’s time you knew better. Or, maybe it’s time we made these all relevant again. You decide.

“As if”

The classic “in your dreams” moment from Alicia Silverstone’s “Clueless” that had every girl blasting guys with rejection for the following two years quickly lost its thunder once everyone realized that Alicia’s career had topped out.



The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are known for lots of things, like eating pizza, living in sewers and busting out sweet ninja moves. Since this is not too far from the average life of anybody in the ’90s, the term “cowabunga” was used by cool dudes and surfers alike. That, and “tubular.” Of course, if you are caught saying this now, people will immediately assume you’re mentally impaired or incredibly high.

“Far out”

Any guy knows that pretty much every line from “The Big Lebowski” is clutch, but the further we get from that movie, the harder it is to reel in people with its quotes. If you find yourself in only your underwear and a house robe muttering the words “far out” after a long toke of the marijuana on a weekday, you’ll probably find yourself homeless very soon.


Another classic from “Clueless,” the movie that gave us so much (including Paul Rudd), makes its way into conversations still today. This phrase is usually accompanied by the finger gesture of a “W” for the hearing impaired. People who still use the phrase are often reciprocated a finger gesture of another kind for their stupidity.

“Da bomb”

Urban Dictionary has a pretty good understanding of both the meaning and the irrelevance of the term “da bomb.” Everybody just went back to “cool” and “sweet” once the risk of getting their ass kicked or face slapped become a real honest threat with “da bomb.” It’s always sounded ridiculous, just now more than ever.


The “booyah” is a phrase that originated in the early ’90s and has had waves of success. It seems to still be welcome today, too, especially on a Stuart Scott-led “SportsCenter.”

“Show me the money”

Cuba Gooding, Jr. may have fallen off the face of the earth, but he’s already left behind his legacy. And Tom Cruise screaming this at the top of his lungs is nothing if not priceless. I think we could all take a note and use this phrase at full volume every time we’re in line at the bank. It would definitely make going to the bank a better time.

“Alrighty then”

Nobody can do anything as funny as Jim Carrey can, yet for the longest time, people tried to anyways. Since Jim has moved onto more serious roles since his “Ace Ventura” days, the use of this phrase has fallen dramatically. However, there are still those few guys who can’t quite do it right but continue to give it a shot. In fact, they’re the worst at getting it right and they’re the only ones still doing it (looking at you, Uncle Greg).

“Hasta la vista, baby”

First, he became famous for bodybuilding, then became a movie star, married a Kennedy and became governor of California, only to return to acting. This “Terminator 2” phrase is obviously the key to it all, and no matter who says it, it’s easier to understand than when Arnold does, but it’s not as good at the same time. Pretty sure Michelle Tanner used this one too. How adorable. (Related: See Famous Movie Quotes in Internet Slang)

“Talk to the hand”

Because we were unable to find a quality clip online of Arnold for “Hasta la vista, baby,” we are making it up to you with this already outdated in 2003 clip from “Terminator 3” of Arnold using this terrible phrase.


Here’s a perfect example of something that should never have lost its magic. Wayne and Garth rocking the “schwing” in “Wayne’s World” (or “Wayne’s World 2” in the video above) was the gateway line for future fanny slaps and sexual harassment in the work place. If only there were more characters like this in the world, men would be able to more easily express their desires to women. Tent pole!

“Cut. It. Out.”


Everybody loved “Full House,” whether they’re man enough to admit it or not. The Joey Gladstone catch phrase “Cut it out” with the trademark hand gestures was a hit in the ’90s. Not so much now, as the only time you’ll see this is probably in Dave Coulier’s stand-up, which nobody watches for too long. Just kidding, he’s seriously the greatest uncle you can have (take that, Uncle Jesse!).


If you find yourself still calling anything you like “fly,” then you’re part of the reason that Twitter language is succeeding and why people don’t write anymore. It’s commonly followed by the word “ass” and then a noun of some kind. For your insta-90s reference, think of the Fly Girls from the sketch comedy show “In Living Color.” Other words that fit under the fly umbrella are dope, fresh rad and…


You’re phat.

Fast-talking, Chris Tucker had his moments in the ’90s, especially with the invention of “P.H.A.T.” in 1997’s “Money Talks,” which stands for “pretty, hot and tempting.” Let this improvisational wordsmanship be a lesson to all the men who constantly put their foot in their mouths. If you’re going to be a complete asshole, learn to cover it up once in awhile.

“Keepin’ it real”

“Clueless” is clearly the staple film for outdated ’90s phrases. This one actually has been making its way back to cultural relevance in Showtime’s “Californication,” a show that can make anything sound cool. This is one phrase we wouldn’t mind having pop up in pretentious, quasi-intellectual conversation. For example, if someone asks about what you’re reading right now, you could respond by saying, “I don’t actually know how to read. I’m just keepin’ it real.”


This one’s for the ladies, as the term was made famous by the 1999 TLC song “No Scrubs.” As a guy who hung out the passenger side of my best friend’s ride a lot in the ’90s…this one still stings.

“My bad”

Although it apparently originated in the 1970s, the phrase “my bad” was a popular self-blaming phrase of the ’90s, commonly used in street basketball games and in accidental misfires of firearms. Sometimes the two were one and the same.

“Yeah, baby” and “Groovy, baby”

Even when these “Austin Powers” quotes were popular, everyone knew they were soon to be terribly outdated.


There’s nothing better than saying something you immediately regret and retracting your statement by dropping a super smooth “psych!” Here’s an ode to all the guys who say stupid things, and when you think it can’t get any dumber, it does just that.

“Raise the roof”


This one is as good an outdated phrase as it is a gesture. Nobody will admit this one is outdated though, especially if “The Office” is using it, because we all know that show isn’t getting old anytime soon. But seriously, any time you have the chance to raise the roof, we recommend doing it.


Last, but certainly not least — “Not.” Another gem popularized by “Wayne’s World,” this would go on to be the biggest sarcastic catchphrase of the ’90s. And it actually is pretty cool to use when you think about it…