Slang words are the deep-fried whale sperm of the language world. They're esoteric, controversial delicacies enjoyed by a select few insiders who carefully cultivate a sophisticated, sometimes-isolating sense of appreciation.
While contemporary slang is nothing to shake a stick at, I have a particularly soft spot for slang from distant times. Historical is particularly delicious, but what I enjoy even more is slang tetering on the cutting edge of our future.
What I'm referring to is geek slang, cyberpunk slang, and other slang that is created in near future and science fiction novels. Just as the sci-fi genre predicts how we will live and behave in the future, it hypothesizes our future speech patterns as well, and boy, do they ever get colorful!
What follows is an index of some of my favorite cyberpunk slang terms, used by fictional characters of the future. I propose that we start using these words and phrases now! Why not make the prophesies come true??
Before we dive into my index of cyberpunk and geeky science fiction slang, let us take a moment to meditate on its diverse origins. Some of the writers who coined the words and phrases that follow did so nearly 100 years ago. Others repurposed slang that was even older- or is already in use in some regions of the world.
To trace each word and phrase to its origin, please refer to the book credits section of this guide. Each word is given a number corresponding to a book.
Words for "Internet"
As melbel can tell you, there are lots of different words used by forward-thinking people today and science fiction authors to describe the Internet. Many emerged from "series of tubes" a term originating from a meme surrounding once-senator Ted Stevens' lack of Internet understanding.
- The net
- The web
- The series of tubes
- Pneumatic tubes,
- The interwebz
- The Internets
Cyberpunk Words - A-Z
- Adhocracy (n) - An ad-hoc organization of people (and a fantastic replacement for the modern corporation); the opposite of a bureaucracy; assembles and disassembles as needed1
- Betch (n) - A crude but affectionate thing to call a friend; a contemporary male equivalent of this is "brah"3
- Bitchun (adj.) - Cool; related to the Bitchun society, a dominant society which has made death obsolete and granted all humans basic rights1
- Bogus (adj.) - Lame4
- Bubbly (adj.) - Cool; good, lucid (other groups in this book series use the term "Icy" for the same meaning)4
- Chizz (adj.) - Cool5
- Crash (adj.) - Dumb, stupid ("you crash.")5
- Crumbly (n) - An elderly person (and apparently current British slang with the same meaning). Other common iterations of the term: crumblies (multiple old people); Crumblyville (a neighborhood full of elderly people)4
- Deadhead (v) - To go into suspended animation for a set or indefinite period of time, either to fight the drudgery of travel or to pass by a particularly boring patch in history1
- Duppy (adj.) - Crazy, stupid5
- Face rank (n) - Fame (See also: whuffie)4
- Far (adv.) - Very (e.g. "This far duppy")5
- Fenfen (adj.) - Messed up, f***ed up, stupid (a derogatory adjective)5
- Flyin' (v) - Leaving5
- Ford (n) - God2
- Frack (v) - F***7
- Grodaceous (adj.) - Gross3
- Kicker (n) - A sort of blogger; kicks around interesting stories and memes4
- Littlie (n) - A little kid (is even used today in Australia)4
- Mind-rain (n) - An explosion of creativity resulting from clear thought; similar to the psychological state of "flow"4
- Nerf herder - A derogatory title8
VOTE, you frackin' toaster!
- Ping (n) - Any sort of message (text, email, voice, video) (already used in some modern day circles)4
- Pneumatic (adj.) - Round, bouncy, sexy2
- Scanbox (n) - Fool, idiot, crazy person5
- Scanning (adj.) - Crazy ("Far scanning, you.")5
- Surge-monkey (n) - Someone who uses cosmetic surgery in daring, flamboyant ways4
- Shiny (adj.) - Cool9
- Slashdotting (v) - The process of a large influx of visitors coming to a webserver from the front page of slashdot.org; may incapacitate a site6
- Toaster (n) - A derogatory term for a Cylon (humanoid robot)
- Uploading (v) - The process of transferring a mind to a computer6
- Verbal (v) - To speak with someone verbally3
- Whuffie (n) - social capital; may be used as an alternative to physical currency; earned through gaining the esteem of others (See also: Face rank)1
- Good hunting - "Good luck" "Break a leg"7
- Frackin' toaster - A derogatory title / insult7
- JBF - "Just butt f***ing" (the future equivalent of JK - "Just kidding")3
- Major sampled - Used to add extreme emphasis to something; "It was chizz major sampled"5
- No clock for this - "I haven't got time for this."5
- So say we all - "Amen" "Hear hear!"7
- TIMOTOV - "Think I'm About to Openly Vomit" (perhaps the future equivalent of the Valley Girl slang term "Gag me with a spoon")3
Book / Movie / Show Credits
- Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
- The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld
- The Otherland series by Tad Williams
- Accelerando by Charles Stross
- Battlestar Gallactica
- Star Wars
- Retro-genetics - a low-tech process of genetic discovery practiced by hipsters which involves the investigation of one's genealogy (Courtesy of lord de cross)
- Gore (n/v/adj) - To exaggerate your role in the creation of something- in reference to Al Gore "allegedly" claiming credit for inventing the internet. (Courtesy of Roy Perrin)
Help me expand the glossary!
I have only just begun my personal foray into the beautiful world of near future and science fiction and hence have only been introduced to a small portion of all the great cyberpunk slang that has been created.
Help me out by sharing your favorite cyberpunk slang words and phrases (plus their book/film/show of origin) so I can add it to the index!
[EDIT] In addition to sharing sci-fi vocab with me, some readers have created their own future slang! I've added it to the left. Feel free to contribute your own!
Take this new slang for a spin- use it in your comments!
Alice on September 01, 2013:
PeterYou feel pain with your brain wiring of coruse and chemicals impregnation but also with your mood.It is still possible for an honest observer to contest the suffering intensity proclaimed by - lets say an Italian soccer player during a match after an opponent had make him fall. What makes Neuroscientist courageous post fascinating for me is that it not only poses the problem about wrong self diagnostic of a mental state like being drunk or depression but NS dare to use a wondereful instrument of knoledge, the dictionary, to make clear the difference between the observer and the sufferer. I would like to make a point there: it is not only the sufferer who can evaluate wrongly the mental state of a person and a white coat brainwashed by big pharma can be very dangerous. An aspie told me once with the fixed gaze aspies often have when they look in your eyes instead of refusing to met your gaze-that the surgeons at a reputable Parisian academic hospital had told him that they had never see a case like his in France because came on his own legs to the hospital for an emergency like an Afgan warrior or a poor African walking without crunches on a broken leg to the medical facilities available sometimes for miles.The guy was lucky to have been met by surgeons who found him quite rational apart not suffering like he should have, being a French man with that pathology. Surgeons are very knowledgeable people and bright people.If my pro bono client had met with a French psychiatrist before being taken into the good care of the surgeons he would have probably been labelled delusional (for some reasons of theirs almost every french psychiatrist do not believe in autism with high enough IQ in adults.)and put on a regiumen of antipsychotic medication.
Jagadeeswar on August 29, 2013:
to deftero video me to fesi agziegi tin teleiotita skinothetika. To vlema atenizei sto apeiro. O typos dinei resital. Symfono me toys parapano oti xreiazetai mono mia gomena gia na strosei.
Christy Kirwan from San Francisco on November 15, 2012:
I've mostly read the more traditional stuff like Gibson and Sterling, but this is a great comprehensive slang guide! I think my personal favorite phrase is "wetware" for cybernetic implants. (I suspected you were a closet cyberpunk all along! Hah!)
Kay Angel from Northern Virginia on June 06, 2012:
well, not used in the show but my friends all refer to anyone about to die as being a red-shirt from all the poor red-shirted 1st gen ST security guys who go along just to die.
you could probably work in phasers and communicators. oh, scanners. OK, my geek is rusty. Gonna go look for some oil for it.
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on March 14, 2012:
Garrett Mickley, I'm thinking you'll have to make that first move! SOMEONE'S gotta do it, right?
And hahaa, don't feel crumbly, americababy! I bet you're bubbly major!
americababy on March 01, 2012:
I'm feeling crumbly.
Garrett Mickley from Jupiter, Florida on February 29, 2012:
I have owned the domain name cyberpunkguides.com for years now and I have no idea what to do with it. Seems like I can't find anyone out there who knows how to make cyberpunk stuff.
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on October 23, 2011:
50, you rock.
And Stephen, that is a very relevant, very viable word! I'm going to start looping it into my everyday language. I hope it catches on!
Stephen J Fernbach on October 12, 2011:
I have a new slang term for companies that charge for a download but only let you use the software for one day.
This is what I call cyberextortion.
50 Caliber from Arizona on September 03, 2011:
Ah, Huston, we now have communication kqueck Roger, that Appollo thanks for notification, Huston out, kqueck, 50
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on September 02, 2011:
Yeah......... won't be trying that any time soon, Steve-o. I'll be sticking to soba noodles and omurice ONLY on all future trips to Japan ^_^
And indeed, FloraBreenRobinson! I bet I could get a lot from taking on some of their better words and phrases. I'm really glad you brought Star Trek up. Qatlho'!
FloraBreenRobison on September 02, 2011:
oh, yes, Klingon have their own language. :)
california.steve from California on September 02, 2011:
Actually "deep-fried whale sperm" is probably a reality in Japan. Deep fried fish sperm sack, "Shirako Tempura" is a popular dish at Izakaya (Japanese pubs). It always a good laugh to serve it to foreigners, let them try it, then, tell them what it is.
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on September 02, 2011:
Yeah, me too amymarie_5! Thanks for stopping by!
And I SO need to add some Star Trek lingo to this Hub, FloraBreenRobinson. I just don't know how much slang they used though... they were all so proper! Perhaps I can put a couple good Klingon vocab words though, hehee!
Amy DeMarco from Chicago on September 01, 2011:
I like mind-rain, i could use some of that! Great hub!
FloraBreenRobison on August 19, 2011:
A lot of science fiction from the original Star Trek has become science fact. It's the only S.T. series I follow.
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on August 19, 2011:
Heeee! Thanks drbj! And it's unknown to pretty much everyone... except a handful of fictional characters and hardcore scifi fans, QudsiaP1- but that's one of the things that makes these words so much fun!
QudsiaP1 on August 18, 2011:
This is an unknown language to me. :P
drbj and sherry from south Florida on August 17, 2011:
Shiny, Cool, Chizz, Icy, Bubbly and Duppy, Simone. With love from an admitted and proud-to-be Crumbly.
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on August 17, 2011:
You far understated, Binaya.Ghimire! I bet you've got TONS of bitchun slang words floating around in that noggin of yours!
And a slang-ridden plumbing guide... now THAT sounds bubbly major sampled davenmidtown. Especially if it's cyberpunk slang! LOL "Don't pray to Ford to fix your fenfen toilet! Follow these simple steps!"
Intriguing coinage, lord de cross! Adding it to the Hub, I am!
Sadly, FloraBreenRobison, I have not been exposed to much Star Trek! Are there any common slang words that the characters used? I should do some research!!
And daaaaang- you got slashdotted! That's AWESOME melbel!! And I LOVE the intertubes- and all the series-of-tubes slang words! I've added a small section to the Hub dedicated to words for the internet. Thanks for that!
I must say, mtsi1098, that speaking in cyberpunk slang is VERY fun. Welcome to the fold!
Well DONE waynet! A two-pointer!
And I've added that one in, Roy Perrin! Hahaa.
Hey, just hold on to your slang, 50, and you might just be seen as cutting edge in enough time!
And thanks, Steve-O. I am trying to make my way through Neuromancer now... SO DENSE... argh... I have YET to read Snowcrash, but I'm on it! Thanks for the reminder.
I do respect the language patterns of days past, Hyphenbird- I'll be happy to translate for you whenever you like!
Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on August 17, 2011:
I am an old fashioned girl and love the language of old. As I remain in the realm of romance, perhaps one of my fellow Hubbers can become my cyber-slang translator. laugh
california.steve from California on August 17, 2011:
Very good! Some of my favorite writers are 'tapped' here. However, you left out referencing cyberpunk foundation language from Neuromancer (Gibson) and Snowcrash (Stephenson).
Otherwise, suteki da ne.
50 Caliber from Arizona on August 17, 2011:
I find this interesting, as I speak old school that many consider slang, I ought to catch up I spose but folks just keep whipping up more, I have to say I was clueless in 2008 as I entered into the desktop era of typing becoming "writing" so I just pecked out some fricken verbage, tappig you back on a great hub!FTW LMAO, 50
Roy Perrin from Jacksonville, NC on August 17, 2011:
If I could make one up I'd say "Gore," as in to exaggerate your role in the creation of something- in reference to Al Gore "allegedly" claiming credit for inventing the internet. It could be used to describe that peron that always has a better story than everyone else. It could be used as a noun, verb, or adjective.
Wayne Tully from Hull City United Kingdom on August 17, 2011:
Frack, This hub is Chizz!!!
mtsi1098 on August 17, 2011:
Looks like I need to re-learn the cyber language...I did enjoy this and cannot believe the parties you go to :)
Melanie from Midwest, USA on August 16, 2011:
Another one we use is "the intertubes", "series of tubes", "pneumatic tubes" which is what my friends and I call the Internet.
It's from what was somewhat of a meme a few years back due to a reference then-senator Ted Stevens had made in describing the Internet.
According to Wikipedia, "This metaphor has been widely ridiculed as demonstrating Stevens's poor understanding of the Internet, despite the fact that he was in charge of regulating it."
Melanie from Midwest, USA on August 16, 2011:
Wow, I use the term "slashdotted" lol. I had a post on a blog years ago that actually was slashdotted. Fortunately, it was on Blogger so Google's servers kept me safe. I deleted the blog years ago and now the post rests here on HubPages. :P
FloraBreenRobison on August 16, 2011:
I see I have interesting spelling again. That word isn't slang. It should say "references." sheesh.
FloraBreenRobison on August 16, 2011:
To me, a Deadhead will always be a fan of the Grateful Dead. I have been hearing ferences to "pinging" which until I read this I didn't know. I just cannot believe that Geek phrases includes no Star Trek.
Joseph De Cross from New York on August 16, 2011:
how about retro-genetics? Invented by me. The meaning?: Finding about yourself studying your genealogy. Hope you like it! have a bunch galore!
David Stillwell from Sacramento, California on August 16, 2011:
hmmm ... now if we can tie this all in to plumbing it would be Chizz!
Binaya.Ghimire on August 16, 2011:
I envy your Mind-rain. You have that ability to coin interesting phrase such as deep-fried whale sperm. And I think I'm Scanbox, I cannot remember slang words.