Clueless-isms: A 90s Glossary

When Clueless came out in 1995, we were in fourth grade – so eight and nine years old. I don’t think I watched the movie until a couple years later, but even then, I regarded the film as the epitome of coolness. Lit’rally the word ‘coolness’, because that was a word I used in excess back then. It featured pretty people, in a lavish California neighborhood, and high school seemed like the furthest thing from my Catholic school upbringing. In sixth grade, my friends and I even decided to assume roles of Clueless characters (for fun?), with the blonde girl being Cher, the cute kid as Elton, and obviously, I played Summer the Asian chick.

But watching it as a tween is way different than watching it as an adult, mainly because there are a lot of references and lines I glossed over as a kid, that make me think, ‘How is this appropriate for a child??’ now (remember the bong scene? Yeah, you might not because you DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS A BONG.) Not only that, but times have changed in two decades. The pop culture refs made in 1995 aren’t the same ones made in 2015. So whether you’re in or nearing your 30s or new to the Clueless culture, we’ve created a handy glossary to help you understand just what they’re talking about in this iconic film.

Tai: “Wow you guys talk like grown-ups.”

Cher: “Well this is a very good school.”

The 411 {noun}

Definition: The information, details

Context: “Here’s the 411 on Mr. Hall: he’s single, he’s 47, and he earns minor duckets for a thankless job.”

Audi {verb}

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Definition: Leaving, exiting. Not to be confused with ‘Outie’, which is also a thing 90s kids also said.

Context: Cher: “Dee, I’m Audi.” Dionne: “Bye.”

Baldwin {proper noun}

Definition: A handsome man; inspired by the Baldwin brothers (Alec, Stephen, Billy, etc. in the 90s, when they were at their prime)

Context: “OK, OK, so he is kind of a Baldwin.”

Barneys and Bettys {noun}

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Definition: Derived from The Flintstones, a Betty is a hot girl, while a Barney, is a dumber, less attractive guy.

Context: Wasn’t Cher’s mom a total Betty?

Cake boy {noun}

Definition: A gay man

Context: “Your man Christian is a cake boy… He’s a disco-dancing, Oscar Wilde -reading, Streisand-ticket-holding friend of Dorothy. Know what I’m saying?”

Cher and Dionne {proper nouns}

Definition: Cher is named after Cher and Dionne after Dionne Warwick, both pop stars who later used their celebrity to peddle goods on TV informercials.

Context: I can’t not watch Dionne Warwick’s Psychic Friends Network infomercial when it’s on at 3am.

Contempo Casuals {proper noun}

Definition: Young female teen retail store with low budget yet fashionable clothing.

Context: Meet me in Contempo Casual, I need to buy a new set of butterfly clips and tank tops.

The Cranberries {proper noun}

Definition: Irish rock band who were super popular in the 1990s

Context: “I can’t find my Cranberries CD I need to go to the quad before somebody steals it.”

Jeepin’ {verb}

Definition: Cheating on yo’ boo; sexin’ in the back of a car

Context: Murray: “Where you been all weekend? What’s up? You been Jeepin’ around behind my back?”

Kato Kaelin {proper noun}

Definition: An actor who was staying at O.J. Simpson’s guest house when his wife Nicole Brown Simpson was murdered at their house in 1994. He was subsequently a witness during O.J.’s infamous trial, and known for his rambling and inconsistent testimonies, and a constant target as a freeloader in the media.

Context: “He’s not your dad, Why don’t you torture a new family?” “Just because my mother marries someone else, it doesn’t mean he’s my father.” “Actually, Kato, that’s exactly what it means.”

Monet {proper noun}

Definition: A person who seems to be attractive from far away until you see them up close.

Context: “It’s like a painting, see? From far away, it’s OK, but up close, it’s a big old mess.”

Noxzema {proper noun}

Definition: A popular skin cleanser popular with teens, known in the 90s for its friend-heavy commercials

Context: “Cher and her friends look like a Noxema commercial with all the fun they’re having in that waterfall rn.”

Pauly Shore {proper noun}

Definition: Pauly Shore was a popular comedian in the 90s, but his movies were critically panned, including films like Encino Man, Son-In-Law and Bio-Dome.

Context: Pauly Shore movies are horrible.

Ren and Stimpy {proper noun}

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Definition: A cult yet controversial cartoon series about a dog and cat that aired on Nickelodeon in the early 90s.

Context:  Josh: “I can’t believe I’m taking advice from someone who watches cartoons.” Cher: “That’s Ren and Stimpy. They’re way existential.”

Tree People {proper noun}/ Marky Mark

Definition: A environmental advocacy group based in Los Angeles/ Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch = Mark Wahlberg’s rap persona in the 90s. Good Vibrations, y’all.

Context: Josh: “Actually, I’m going to a tree people meeting. Me might get Marky Mark to plant a celebrity tree.” Cher: “Getting Marky Mark to take time from his busy pants-dropping schedule to plant trees? Josh, why don’t you just hire a gardener?”

Twin Peaks {proper noun}

Definition: The creepy, cult, thriller series from David Lynch based around the mystery of a young woman’s murder in a small town in Washington.

Context: Elton’s being a little creepy by having Tai’s picture hanging up in his locker.

What’s Love Got To Do With It {proper noun}

Definition: The 1993 biopic loosely based on Tina Turner and ex-husband Ike Turner’s turbulent relationship.

Context: Dionne and her boyfriend, Murray are in this dramatic relationship… why do you put up with it? You could do so much better.