By Maria Peltekova
The 50s were recent enough that we still keep much of their slang. It’s as incorporated into our life as it was in the young and old during the 1950s. Phrases like “how’s your love life,” “the greatest thing since sliced bread,” or “You could have fooled me” became popular then and stayed popular.
Therefore, digging up some unique and forgotten slang terms was more involved than usual, but words such as “fink” or “culture-vulture” deserve a blog of their own. “Fink” came from uncertain origins, though it presumably meant something along the lines of frivolous or dissolute in the early 1900s. By the 50s, however, it garnered other definitions like strikebreaker, spy, or informer. This could be because it sounded like the Pinks, short for the Pinkerton agents, a private police force that was hired to break up the Homestead strike in 1892.
“Culture-vulture” refers to someone who is an avid fan of the arts, almost to the point of being pretentious. Anyone with rather excessive interest in museums or poetry could be called this term. The slang word may have been spawned inadvertently by Ogden Nash, who wrote in his book of poetry, Free Wheeling, “There is a vulture / Who circles above / The carcass of culture.” It was published in 1931, giving the phrase plenty of time to spread its wings and immerse itself in 50s vernacular.
If someone was a “culture-vulture,” they could have also had or “got their glasses on” during the 50s, it would be a sign that he or she were acting ritzy or snooty. People that failed to recognize their friends or acted above their character merited this phrase. The origin or creator of this phrase is unknown, much as the phrase “to have rose-colored glasses on” has a mystery origin as well. In both cases, the person wearing the metaphorical glasses cannot see clearly and is acting in an unrealistic manner instead of better viewing a situation.
Another slightly strange slang word is “supermurgitroid,” which means very cool or exciting. It seems fabricated by Mary Poppins, and yet, despite the clunky constanents and cumbersome wording, “supermurgitroid” was quite a hip and popular term. It’s easy to see why it went out of style—usually only slang that rhymes or slips of the tongue with ease can outlast a decade. However, considering the lack of current words that have the equivalent sense of humor and bombast, I would support the reemergence of this slang term.
Writers Dreamtools : http://www.writersdreamtools.com/view/decades/default.asp?Decade=1950#slang
Dictionary.com: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fink; http://dictionary.reference.com/idioms/culture+vulture
50s Slang Words: http://wwwinfoworld.com/50sslang.htm