11 Curse Words & Insults From The '50s We Need To Bring Back
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Charming, fun, and just the right amount of salty, curse words from the 1950s really do seem to have a little extra somethin' that many modern day insults tend to lack. Our go-to four letter words and other caustic phrases get the point across, but it can be effective — and even kind of funny — to throw in the occasional "get bent" as well.

"When you say something unexpected, you will definitely throw someone off balance, and it can lighten the moment," says relationship expert Davida Rappaport. This can come in handy during heated moments, she tells Bustle, when you want to change the direction of a tough conversation.

Older phrases are not only disarming, they also don’t sting as much as some alternatives. "A lot of these terms are definitely a lot less offensive in modern times and perhaps even endearing to a certain extent," says Beverly Friedmann, a writer and content manager for ReviewingThis. "They also tend to catch people off-guard, can be fun to use, and may strike up a conversation."

If you’re in the mood to bring back curse words from the '50s and other old-fashioned sayings, read on below for a few choice phrases so you'll know just what to say the next time you're angry, annoyed, or surprised.


"Get Bent"

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Back in the day, telling someone to "get bent" basically meant you wanted them to drop dead or go away, Friedmann says. It was super popular in the 1950s, but now has that old time-y flair. "One of the most interesting parts of this 1950s curse/slang term is how language has evolved throughout time," she tells Bustle. "If you told someone to 'get bent' today you probably wouldn't have any problems."


"Oh, Fudge"

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Nothing sounds more old-school than saying "oh, fudge" instead of the usual four letter word. According to Rappaport, it still gets the point across without being as offensive.



Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Back in the day if someone was pushing your buttons you could tell them to "scram" as a forceful yet effective way to get them out of your face. "The word 'scram' was introduced in the late 1920s, but was very popular in the 1950s,” Rappaport says.


"Make Like A Tree And Leave"

Ashley Batz/Bustle

The next time your roommate is invading your space, or you need a little persona space, try telling your loves ones to “make like a tree and leave.” This fun play on words was meant to be rude back in the '50s, Rappaport says, but it was just a little bit nicer than straight up telling someone to go.


"I’ll Give You A Knuckle Sandwich"

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

However ridiculous is might sound today, telling someone you’re going to give them a "knuckle sandwich" used to be pretty scary as it implied you were going to, well, hit them in the teeth, Friedmann says. While you obviously won’t mean it literally, it might be a playful way to joke with someone today.


"Stuff It"

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

According to Rappaport, the term "stuff it" was used extensively back in the day when someone was mad or wanted their pal to stop talking. Instead of straight up telling them to be quiet, folks would suggest someone "stuff it" — sort of like “put a cork in it” — instead.


"That's So Mickey Mouse"

Hannah Burton/Bustle

Here’s a weird one: "When someone referred to doing something as being 'so Mickey Mouse’ they meant it was either so easy it required no effort, or it was dumb," Rappaport says. Since Mickey is meant for kids, calling something “so Mickey Mouse” meant it was childish or silly.

"This originated around 1955 after Disneyland opened and when the Mickey Mouse Club was formed," she says. "This was probably originated by teenagers feeling they were too old for Disney or too hip."


"Put A Lid On It"


This phrase may sound like a charming shut-down today, but back in the '50s it meant business. "When you wanted someone to stop talking about something or shut up, you used to tell them to 'put a lid on it' or 'can it,'" Rappaport explains.



Hannah Burton/Bustle

This word, used to describe folks who were viewed as disreputable, was quite rude back in the '50s. "Its origins are from old French verbs rifler, which means to spoil or strip, and raffler, to carry off," says Gabby Wallace, an expert on English language learning. “Now its use is more humorous, but it should definitely be brought back as an insult."


"Heavens To Betsy"

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

"This all-American anachronistic phrase was used to show astonishment," Wallace tells Bustle. "One theory is that it came from Betsy Ross, who stitched the first American flag." Of course, it's always fine to use four letter words, if you so choose. But isn’t there something kind of cute about saying things like "heavens to Betsy," instead?


"Party Pooper"

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According to Friedmann, the term party pooper emerged around the 1950s to describe the wet blanket friend in the group. “In modern times, the term 'party pooper' seems lighthearted and like something you can call your friend in a joking manner without hurting any feelings,” she says. And that's part of the fun of old-fashioned language. These words no longer pack a punch, but they still get your point across in a funny way.

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