Sometimes it is hard to stop, look back, and see how much things can change in just a few years. Language in particular seems to be an amorphous liquid; it is always flowing, shifting and changing shape. With that said, let me give you the skinny on some of the dope slang slung all during the groovy era.
Use of the word “dig” had numerous different meanings all understood through context clues, or just being in the know. It could mean anything from understanding, having knowledge about a topic, to liking something. Outsiders listening in to some smooth cats talking about “digin it” and asking if the other does indeed “dig” what far out concept they were discussing would often leave those eavesdroppers confused and out of the loop.
A great word that was popularized during this time was “funky.” It would most commonly be used to either mean awesome/cool or weird/different, and in some cases both at the same time! A great example of just how popular funky was, is seeing it used in the classic song “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry in 1976. This song featured a hip groove and smooth lyrics, some people even consider it an anthem of the time.
One of my favorite phrases that I still use today is “keep on keepin on.” This can be boiled down to meaning just hanging in there and keep doing your best at your work or whatever task you were doing. I can not tell you how many times I have told this to my close friends who were struggling to keep up with their work when they became overwhelmed. Also, more than a few times, I have looked in the mirror and told myself this timeless mantra to offer myself some encouragement. In perfect hippie fashion this phrase quickly morphed into “keep on truckin’” in the 70s. This small change still had the same basic meaning as the original phrase; however, the term “truckin’” was a term often used to describe the long strides people took in hiking boots.
In this era a lot of cool people were doing a lot of awesome things, new words had to be made to accommodate the times. This is where the term “radical” and “rad” became instrumental. “Rad” and “radical” are just another way to say something is cool or interesting, but sometimes just saying that the thing was cool, or groovy did not do it justice so rad was quickly popularized. Another word that was popular is “stellar.” During this era of space exploration and getting a man on the moon, people had a natural fascination with the inter”stellar” exploration so this term bubbled to the surface, and people started using “stellar” to also mean cool or awesome.
It sure is rad to see how much language can incorporate new words to further expand its uses and vocabulary. Slang seems to just further enhance the nuances of communication; taking the time to remember and recall these terms is important to appreciate your language and understand its valuable history.