Cyberpunk Slang: An Index of Geek Slang & Future Slang Words
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!
Which is your favorite slang word for "cool"?
- 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!