Things We Said in the 90s That Make Us Cringe Today

Ah, the 1990s—a time when people were getting jiggy with it and cringing at the sound of a dial-up modem. This was the era of colorful catchphrases that perfectly captured the spirit of the decade.

The slang from these years has a special place in the hearts of those who lived through it, even if some of the phrases are now obsolete.

Ever wonder what made people say “as if” or “talk to the hand”? These quirky expressions and many others were more than just words; they were a rite of passage.

Understanding 90s lingo is like unlocking a time capsule of pop culture and youthful rebellion. Let’s take a hilarious trip down memory lane and reminisce about the iconic words and phrases that defined this one-of-a-kind decade.

1) “Talk to the hand!”

Talk to the hand!” was a classic ’90s comeback. Kids and teens used it to shut down conversations they didn’t want to have.

This phrase was often paired with an outstretched palm, facing the other person. It was like putting up a verbal stop sign.

The saying became super popular thanks to TV shows and movies. Characters used it all the time, making it even cooler.

“Talk to the hand!” perfectly captured the sassy, rebellious spirit of the ’90s. It was a way for kids to feel like they were in control.

For anyone who heard it, there was no arguing back. The conversation was officially over. If you don’t believe it, just look back at the ’90s expressions.

Next time someone bothers you, why not bring back this iconic line? It’s a reminder of simpler times.

2) “Whatever!”

“Whatever!” became the ultimate comeback in the ’90s. It was shorthand for dismissing someone without getting into a full argument.

Someone annoying you? Just roll your eyes and say “Whatever!” It was like a verbal eye roll.

“Whatever!” was perfect for dodging questions too. Don’t know the answer in class? “Whatever!” Trying to escape chores? “Whatever!” It magically transformed irritation into a cool, nonchalant attitude.

Even Cher Horowitz from Clueless made “Whatever!” iconic by adding a hand gesture. Two fingers forming a “W” added extra flair. She took dismissiveness to new heights and made it look fabulous!

The phrase wasn’t just for teens either. Adults got in on the action every now and then, usually to the dismay of younger folks who felt their territory was being invaded.

You can revisit some of the best catchphrases that everyone used in the ’90s. It’s a trip down memory lane, filled with nostalgia and a lot of “Whatever!” moments.

3) “As if!” – Clueless

In the 90s, people couldn’t get enough of Cher Horowitz from the movie “Clueless.” Played by Alicia Silverstone, she became an icon for fashion and wit.

One phrase Cher made famous was “As if!” It was her go-to response to anything totally unworthy of her attention. Imagine someone suggesting Cher wear last season’s shoes. “As if!”

The phrase wasn’t just catchy. It was also snappy and full of teen spirit. Director Amy Heckerling revealed that “As if!” was popular in the gay community during the early 90s. She thought it was perfect for Cher’s sassy character.

This iconic line helped capture the vibe of the 90s and made everyone want to channel their inner Cher. It even gave people an excuse to brush off anything less than fabulous with a single, sharp retort.

Re-watching “Clueless,” you’ll notice how “As if!” fits into the fun and quirky dialogue. It’s like a time capsule of 90s slang, serving both attitude and humor in just two words.

To see more about Cher’s signature catchphrase, check out the Teen Vogue interview with Amy Heckerling. It’s a trip down memory lane for anyone who loved the film.

4) “Boo-ya!”

A speech bubble with "Boo-ya!" in bold letters, surrounded by 90s-themed elements like a cassette tape, a pair of rollerblades, and a neon-colored fanny pack

Back in the ’90s, yelling “Boo-ya!” was the pinnacle of excitement. This phrase was used by kids everywhere to celebrate victories, big or small.

Whether you aced a test or won a game of POGs, “Boo-ya!” was the perfect way to express your joy.

The word has roots in urban slang and became popular in mainstream culture. You’d see it in TV shows, hear it in movies, and even read it in books. It was like a verbal high-five that never missed.

“Boo-ya!” was versatile. It could mean “I told you so” or just be an exclamation of pure happiness.

Maybe someone made an impossible shot in basketball, “Boo-ya!” Someone solved a tricky math problem, “Boo-ya!” It was a phrase that captured the decade’s carefree spirit.

In today’s world, using “Boo-ya!” might earn you some odd looks, but back then, it was totally rad. If you want to relive those moments, go ahead and shout it out. Boo-ya! was the battle cry of a generation always ready to celebrate.

5) “Yadda, yadda, yadda”

In the 90s, “Yadda, yadda, yadda” became a staple phrase thanks to Seinfeld. It was a quick way to skip over boring details in stories.

Instead of listening to every tiny fact, people would just say “yadda, yadda, yadda” and move on. It was the ultimate shortcut.

Even teachers got into it. “Your homework is blah, blah, blah, yada, yadda, yadda, due Friday.” It added humor to the mundane.

Yadda, yadda, yadda wasn’t just for skipping details. It was also a way to make fun of long-winded speakers.

If someone droned on, others would react with “yadda, yadda, yadda” and a laugh.

The phrase was even used in advertising and on T-shirts. It captured the laid-back, don’t-sweat-the-small-stuff attitude of the decade.

For more about how this phrase became so iconic, check out this yadda. Not only did it save time, it made conversations spicy and fun. Anyone who used it was instantly cooler.

6) “All that and a bag of chips”

In the ’90s, saying someone was “all that and a bag of chips” was the ultimate compliment.

It meant you were not just great—you were extra awesome, like how a sandwich is better with chips on the side.

Kids would say it to their friends, and it could even boost someone’s popularity at school.

The phrase became popular through TV shows like “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

Imagine Will Smith, with his charming swagger, casually dropping this line, making everyone wish they were all that and a bag of chips.

It wasn’t just TV, though.

People used it in everyday conversation to hype up their friends or talk about the coolest kid in class.

It felt like a VIP pass to the club of coolness.

Even today, hearing it can bring back fond memories of playing with pogs, watching Nickelodeon, and rocking those JNCO jeans.

It’s one of those sayings that instantly transports you back to a time when flip phones were high tech and the Macarena was the dance craze.

7) “Da bomb”

A neon-colored graffiti wall with phrases like "da bomb" and "talk to the hand" surrounded by boomboxes and cassette tapes

In the 90s, anything truly amazing was called “da bomb.” This phrase was the ultimate compliment.

If someone said your new sneakers were “da bomb,” you knew you were stylin’.

“Da bomb” wasn’t just for clothes. It could describe a great movie, a tasty meal, or even a fun party. Basically, if something was fantastic, it was “da bomb.”

The phrase was so popular that it even spread to commercials and TV shows. It captured the spirit of the decade: big, bold, and full of energy.

For more on the slang of this era, take a look at this list of 90s slang. It’s like a time machine, but without the weird outfits!

8) “Don’t go there”

dont go there

In the 90s, “Don’t go there” was the ultimate shutdown. If someone was about to say something inappropriate or annoying, you could cut them off with this phrase.

It was a sassy way to set boundaries. No need for long explanations. Just those three words did the trick.

TV shows loved using it too. Characters would snap, “Don’t go there,” and everyone knew the conversation was over. It was quick, sharp, and oh so efficient.

Friends and family picked it up. It became a part of daily conversations. It was a way to say “stop” without sounding boring.

Even celebrities got in on it. They would drop, “Don’t go there,” in interviews, adding a bit of flair to their responses. Fun times!

And let’s not forget the eye roll often paired with it. The eye roll was essential. It added an extra layer of drama, making sure the message was clear.

9) “My bad”

A cluttered desk with a boombox, cassette tapes, a pager, and a stack of CDs. A wall adorned with posters of 90s icons like Kurt Cobain and Tupac

“My bad” became a go-to phrase in the 90s for admitting you messed up. It’s like saying “Oops, that was my fault!” but way cooler.

This phrase didn’t just pop out of thin air, though. It has its roots in urban American culture, dating back to at least the 1980s. Some stories say that NBA star Manut Bol started using it when he mixed up his English.

The movie “Clueless” helped popularize “my bad” even more. The character Cher used it, and suddenly, everyone was saying it.

Even TV shows like “Martin” got in on the action. Martin Lawrence’s character used “my bad” to cheer up his girlfriend, making it both funny and sweet.

For anyone feeling nostalgic, you can still hear people toss around “my bad” today. It’s a perfect excuse for those little oops moments that everyone has. Just remember to say it with that 90s flair!

10) “Eat my shorts” – Bart Simpson

In the ’90s, Bart Simpson became a household name partly because of his cheeky catchphrase: “Eat my shorts.” This phrase was a favorite among rebellious kids who wanted to mimic Bart’s defiant attitude.

Bart first used this line in kindergarten, telling it to Principal Skinner. Imagine a little kid standing up to the principal with that kind of sass!

Schools in the U.S. were not amused and even banned Bart Simpson apparel that featured “Eat my shorts.” Seems adults just couldn’t handle Bart’s brand of humor.

The phrase gained more fame after it appeared in The Simpsons 2007 movie. Bart’s catchphrase even made its way into an arcade game named Eat My Shorts.

Though the exact origin of this catchy line isn’t clear, it likely became popular in the 1980s in the U.S. Only Bart Simpson could turn something so simple into such an iconic piece of ’90s culture.