Speaking Like Totally Teen

"By using current slang terms, Dunbar is trying to tell his children, 'I'm 'hip' or 'down', and you can talk to me about anything,'" Mayhan said. "He is unaware that his stilted speaking style, belabored references, and frequent incorrect usage of terms leave his children more confused than reassured."

Having characters speak in Totally Radical slang is often annoying. It can be excruciating when the slang is outdated, misused, or just spoken wrongly. But sometimes, the other characters find it just as phony as the audience does.

This is when a character starts speaking like a Jive Turkey in an attempt to sound cool or relevant, and comes across as neither to other characters, who react with disdain (often Totally Radical disdain).

Characters prone to this include Valley Girl and Surfer Dude.

Not to be confused with Like Is, Like, a Comma.


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  • This Tim Horton's commercial for tea that is "steeped". A woman is under the impression that "steeped" is a slang word after being told that her tea has been steeped. Needless to say, she goes around saying the word to everyone.

     Anime & Manga 
  • The Pokémon anime did this to Jesse and James in an episode where the duo was trying to convince Ash and crew to get on the SS Anne. James called the cruise "Totally Radical," with Ash wondering who uses "radical" anymore.
  • In Millennium Snow's first volume, Chiyuki says that what Toya did for that little child was "dreamy." Toya reacts by yelling "No one uses dreamy anymore!"

     Comic Books  

  • Mary Marvel in I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League:
    Fire: Whoa, whoa, back up. "Crash in my crib"?
    Mary Marvel: Too street?
    Fire: Next to you, Laura Bush is too street.
    Mary Marvel: That's what Booster said. Not in so many words, but —
    Fire: Booster?
    Mary Marvel: Booster Gold? Y'know — our teammate?
    Fire: Yes, I believe I've heard of him. Now what exactly did our dear teammate tell you?
    Mary Marvel: That I was too... retro. That I needed to... how did he put it? Get down with my boogie parts and —
    Fire: That's enough.
  • I Don't Need Your Civil War has Captain America driving a getaway truck shouting "The pigs are on our tail, homie!" and Luke Cage muttering to himself "Note to self: never teach Cap slang ever again."


  • In an interesting subversion, Marty uses it to get out of 'trouble' in Back to the Future, when he accidentally calls his future father 'Dad'... "Dad... daddy... daddy-o."
  • In the live-action Scooby-Doo movie we discover that monsters are possessing humans and being taught to blend in by watching videos of people using expressions like "what up, dog", "yo Red" and "y'know what I'm sayin G". This backfires because it makes them stick out even more.
  • In Shrek the Third Shrek uses slang to try talk to Arthur, who just freaks out further and screams "Help, I'm being kidnapped by a monster that's trying to relate to me!"
  • There's one scene in The Last Dragon where Bruce Leroy is trying to infiltrate a group of shady factory workers by pretending to be cool. While practicing his intro, he repeats the line "Hey my man, what it look like?" in various tones and enunciations.
  • Inverted in Son in Law when Grandpa Walter, after looking askance at Crawl's endless stream of slang throughout the movie, unexpectedly cuts the film's primary antagonist down to size with a flawless slang soliloquy and instantly becomes the coolest grandpa ever.
  • In A Hard Days Night, when George Harrison is brought to a fashion designer (unaware that he's the real deal) to preview some clothes.
    Designer: Now, you'll like these, you'll really dig them. They're fab and all the other pimply hyperboles.
    George: I wouldn't be seen dead in them. They're dead grotty!
    Designer: "Grotty"?
    George: Yeah, grotesque.
    Designer: (to assistant) Make a note of that word and give it to Susan...


  • In one of the Ms Wiz books, the three Paranormal Operatives get a job as substitute teachers at the school and open an assembly doing a rap song. All of the kids look blankly at them in disbelief except for Class 3 who recognise Ms Wiz and join in with the song.
  • In American Psycho, Patrick Bateman tries to use black slang in a nightclub to show that he isn't just some boring yuppie:
    "I stick out my hand at a crooked angle, trying to mimic a rapper. "Hey," I say. "I'm fresh. The freshest, y'know... like, uh, def... the deffest." I take a sip of champagne. "You know... def."
    To prove this I spot a black guy with dreadlocks and I walk up to him and exclaim "Rasta Man!" and hold out my hand, anticipating a high-five."

     Live-Action TV  
  • In Happy Endings, Dave does this a lot in a season 2 episode, mostly about playing basketball with Brad and then all throughout the episode. He even lampshades how lame he sounds, and Brad asks him to stop.
    Dave: Yo son, you ready to take the rock to the hole? Wassup son, we're street on this son!...*lowers his head in shame* I swam as a kid.
    • This continues throughout the episode. "You ready to ball it up, son?" "I know my hip hop, son!" "You know it. And1 son! And1! *Holds his hand out for a refused fist bump*...I'll get you inside"
  • Farscape's Aeryn's initial attempts at incorporating English into her speech are an interesting example. She tries to use English to be more relatable to John but he just gets annoyed and demands that she stop using English when she invariably butchers the language.
  • Joey does it on Friends when he tries to act like a nineteen-year-old for a role. "Playing Playstation? That's wack. Playstation is wack." "Sup with the wack Playstation sup?"
  • In one episode of Scrubs Carla tries to bond with a teenage patient by using the phrase "T.M.I." After a couple of seconds of the teen staring at her blankly, Dr Cox breaks the silence with "Okaaaay. Joshua, I'm going to have a quick word with your parents, so you stay here and chat with Nurse Early Nineties Catchphrases."
    • Dr Cox tries to talk to a 16 year old girlfriend with the following speech. It's one of the rare times he's not being sarcastic.
      "Hey, Lindsey. What's up, girlfriend? It must be totally awesome to have the same name as that Lindsay Lohan".
  • Parodied in an episode of 8 Simple Rules where we get introduced to a wigger called Anthony who uses street lingo which Paul can't understand. At the end of the episode Cate uses the same lingo to make fun of him.
  • Hannah Montana had a dentist greet Miley with a lot of outdated 70s slang.
  • Alan does this quite a lot when trying to speak to Jake's friends on Two and a Half Men.


  • Potential double example with "X Called; They Want Their Y Back", which is shot back with "The 90s called, they want their phrase back" often enough to be annoying in and of itself.


  • From June Christy's 1945 hit "Tampico":
    You ask a Mexican band
    To play a rumba down there
    He turns and says to the boys
    "Hey, fellas, dig that square!"

     Newspaper Comics  

  • In Zits, Walt's attempts to use what he thinks is hip slang are a constant source of embarrassment to Jeremy.
    Jeremy: Think outside the box? Dad, you are the box!
    • Later, Jeremy is alarmed when his dad does successfully use slang. This quotation returns things to normal:
    Dad: What? I'm jiggy with the lingo!

     Tabletop Games  

  • In Planescape, the Planewalker's Handbook has both a glossary for the setting's slang and a guide to misusing said slang. It's titled "Cant Dictionary for the Clueless" and containing some humorous, ironic and sometimes downright antonymous misunderstandings of common expressions.


  • In the musical Wonderful Town, Speedy Valenti hires Ruth as a barker for his swing club, handing her a flyer. She starts to read (and sing) in a very stiff manner that prompts one of the patrons to shout, "Hey, cats, get a load of that square!" When the hep cats start singing, however, she gets the message.
  • Shows up briefly towards the end of the stage musical version of Once:
    Guy: Would you like to stay over with me tonight?
    Girl: You mean hanky-panky?
    Guy: I don't think anybody calls it "hanky panky" anymore...
    Girl: Oh. Maybe that's why I haven't had any for a while.

     Video Games  

  • In Planescape: Torment, Annah mocks some not-so-lower-class thug wannabes for trying to speak the Sigil Cant and getting it wrong.
  • In Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, Bentley tries to brief Dimitri on a diving mission, and attempts to sound like him. After sadly failing, Dimitri responds with, "My speech is like smoke! All over the place, but ungrabable!"
    • Afterward, he tells Bentley to "come at him with some turtle talk".
  • Algernon, one of the nerds from Bully takes to speaking in Ebonics in an attempt to sound cooler. In fact, he won't get to the point about what he wants until Jimmy triggers him back to speaking with Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe/Expospeak Gags, as he normally does.
    Algernon: Yo, Jimmy, I'm over here! Gimme five, dude!
    Jimmy: Ahh, no.
    Algernon: Heh, heh... Yeah, well, cat, looks like your homies took care of some lames for us.
    Jimmy: What are you talking about?
    Algernon: Don't get fresh wit' your homies!
    Jimmy: Can you please talk normally?
    Algernon: This is my normal style of rapping, bro. Hoo, hoo, hoo!
    Jimmy: Alright. Enough. WHAT'S MY QUEST?
    Algernon: Ah, right. Salutations, sir James!

     Web Animation  

  • Teen Girl Squad, Issue 11, where Camp Counselor Shortshorts tries (and fails) to impress What's-her-Face and The Ugly One:
    Camp Counselor Shortshorts: Now before you ask, "Who's this square?", listen to this: Scha-wing! Not! Who let the dogs out?!
    The Ugly One: Buh-
    What's-her-Face: -arf.

     Web Comics  

  • xkcd suggests that maybe, just maybe, they do it on purpose...

     Web Original  

     Western Animation  

  • Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender was doing this while under disguise in the Fire Nation. He kept calling everybody "hotman" and saying "flameo", to the confusion of everyone around him. Apparently the terms had become outdated during his 100-year nap in the iceberg.
  • Invader Zim does this with Poop Dawg, the Gangsta Clown who's supposed to encourage kids to sell candy. He asks the children is they want to 'go madness with da moneyzz?!' and pronounces the word 'prizes' like "pri-zai-zez" while dropping the word yo every other word. Both the children near him in person and those watching look totally lost after hearing him speak.
  • X-Men: Evolution: Forge can't help it that his slang's outdated, he's been in stasis since the 1970s. Nightcrawler comments on it anyway.
  • In The Simpsons, this is one reason that Poochie became The Scrappy of The Itchy & Scratchy Show.
  • Recess:
    • An episode had a child psychologist studying the kids in the field. She introduced herself saying "wazzup, homeys" and "mind if I hang with your posse".
    • Another episode has Miss Grotke introduce a friend of hers dubbed a "slangologist" who used a load of slang words none of the kids could understand.
  • In an episode of All Grown Up! when Lil's friend comes to pick her up for a party Howard says "well I too think you look awesome...and rad".
  • Mrs Bolts's husband in Lloyd in Space tries to relate to the kids by using the words "chill" and "dude" rather excessively.
  • Phineas tries this in an episode of Phineas and Ferb... however, it doesn't go over so well (much to his disappointment and acknowledgement), ranging in confusion from his peers.
    Phineas: We'll build the best dang carwash in the whole dang world, dang it! I...I can't really pull that off, can I?
    Ferb: ...You're not very street.
    Phineas: ...Yeah.
  • Dexter of Dexter's Laboratory does this in the episode "Average Joe", where he becomes convinced he's not a genius because an intelligence test he took in school came back "average", so he tries to act like an "average" kid by hanging out with some random guy his age and talking like this.
  • Tish's mother of The Weekenders does this when she hangs out with the kids one weekend. What makes it even more hilarious is that she's an Alter Kocker from Eastern Europe. The kids let her get away with it because she's demonstrating some impressive roller blading moves at the same time.
  • Kung Fu Panda Legends Of Awesomeness: Afraid he's going to be replaced because he's old and rusty (Chao was talking about a wok), Master Shifu a.k.a. the Shif-ster starts talking in slang to showboat his youth, vitality and mega-hipness. Then he breakdances. Of course, as a Kung Fu Grandmaster he breakdances quite well.

Alternative Title(s):

Get A Load Of That Square