The term beatnik was coined in 1958 after the launch of Sputnik satellite and the media coverage that followed. This was one year after Jack Kerouac published On the Road, the seminal beatnik novel. But, the beatniks had been going strong since the 1940s (when the term beat generation was coined by Kerouac) and back then they referred to themselves as hipsters.

Many of the terms originally revolved around jazz, something lots of beatniks were passionate about. Hipster lingo was quickly becoming part of many young people’s vocabulary in the 1950s. But, these phrases had actually been invented by the beatniks years before.

Mamie Van Doren starred in this 1959 film which was not a box office hit. Via/ Wiki Commons

20) Angel (noun):

the person who pays the bill

19) Bad news (adjective):

someone who is disappointing

18) Bug (verb):

to annoy someone

17) Can the lip (phrase):

stop talking back

16) Chick (noun):

a woman

Contestants in the Miss Beatnik of 1959 pageant, Venice, California. Via/ Wiki Commons

15) Cooking (verb):

to have performed well, to be on fire on the stage

14) Cool it (phrase):

to slow down or clam down

13) Dig (verb):

to understand or enjoy something

12) Dixie fried (adjective):

to be intoxicated or drunk

Via/ Flickr

11) Flick (noun):

a movie

10) Fuzz (noun):

the police or FBI

9) Get your kicks (phrase):

to have enjoyed something thoroughly

Via/ Library of Congress

8) Ginchiest (adjective):

the best or greatest

7) Horn (noun):

the telephone

6) Juice (noun):


5) Make the scene (phrase):

to be in with the cool crowd

Via/ Wiki Commons

4) Off the wall (verb):

far out or unusual

3) Swinging (verb):

having a good time

2) Shades (noun):


Via/ State Archives of Florida

1) X-ray eyes (phrase):

smart, insightful, to see through a mystery or plot