BBC Wordhunt

Did you call someone a minger rather than just pig-ugly before 1995? Did you sport a mullet and call it that before the 1994 Beastie Boys song Mullet Head? Were you dubbed the nit nurse before 1985? And, do you have the evidence to prove it?

BBC Two and Oxford University Press are sponsoring a new project to find the origins of a number of slang terms. The project will provide data to both the OED and to a BBC television series.

The initial appeals list for the project consists of the following terms:

  • back to square one (1960) *
  • balti (1984) *
  • Beeb (1967)
  • boffin (1941) *
  • bog-standard (1983)
  • bomber jacket (1973)
  • to bonk (sexual intercourse) (1975)
  • bouncy castle (1986)
  • chattering classes (1985)
  • codswallop (1963) *
  • Crimble (1963)
  • cyberspace (1982)
  • cyborg (1960)
  • ditsy (1978) *
  • dosh (1953) *
  • full monty (1985) *
  • gas mark  (1963)
  • gay (homosexual sense) (1935)
  • handbags (at dawn)  (1987)
  • her indoors (1979)
  • jaffa (cricketing term) *
  • Mackem (1991)
  • made-up (1980)
  • minger (1995)
  • minted (1995)
  • moony, moonie (1990)
  • to muller (1993) *
  • mullet (hairstyle) (1994) *
  • mushy peas (1975)
  • naff (1966) *
  • nerd (1951) *
  • nip and tuck (1980)
  • nit nurse (1985)
  • nutmeg (football use)  (1979) *
  • Old Bill (police) (1958)
  • on the pull (1988)
  • pass the parcel (1967)
  • pear-shaped (1983)
  • phwoar (1980)
  • pick and mix (1959)
  • ploughman’s lunch (1970)
  • pop one’s clogs (1977)
  • porky (1985)
  • posh (1915) *
  • ska (1964) *
  • smart casual  (1945)
  • snazzy (1932) *
  • something for the weekend (1990)
  • throw one’s toys out of the pram (or cot) (1989)
  • tikka masala (1975)

* = origin unknown

More information about the BBC Wordhunt project is available here.

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