Favorite slang expressions

Good slang conveys a concept better than “regular” language, has interesting origins, and is fun to say. Here are some of my current favorite slang expressions.

“Goat rope” 
* Source. I heard this a couple of weeks ago from my brother John who picked it up in the navy. It comes from the term “goat rodeo,” and it refers to a completely messy or disorganized situation.
* Real life example. The last time I did Sunday School it was a real goat rope. I haven’t been asked to do it again.

“Jumping the shark”
This phrase comes from television, and it refers to the moment when know that something has irreversibly dropped in quality. It comes from the old TV show “Happy Days” when a viewer gave up hope for the show upon watching Fonzie, while waterskiing, jump over a shark. The video clip.
* I’m not sure why, but I usually feel that my large lecture classes have jumped the shark by about week 12 or 13 of the 15 week semester.

“Epic shellacking”
* This is an original by my friend and colleague David Weakliem. We spent much of fall 2005 seeing if we could outwit the betting spread in college football, and in discussing one of the many games that we predicted wrong, David referred to it as an “epic shellacking.” It refers to a defeat of historic proportions, but the word shellacking has a humorous connotation.
* My friend Mike suffered an epic shellacking in poker last night.

“Sweet mother of pearl”
* A sixth-grader in our neighborhood used this as one would use “holy cow” or “oh my gosh”. It sounds so archaic that coming from a 12-year-old I haven’t forgotten it.
* When I saw all the Christmas shopping traffic downtown today, I loudly exclaimed “sweet mother of pearl, that’s a lot of cars.” For a hilarious example.

“Piker”
* This refers to someone who is afraid to take risks, like the oldtime soldiers who held long pikes, thus keeping the enemy at a distance. I think that I heard this from Chris Uggen.
* When none of my students will answer a discussion question, I chastise them, saying “don’t be a bunch of pikers.

“Bringing a knife to a gun fight.”
* Being completely ill-equipped for a situation, being completely overmatched. (I think it’s from the movie “The Untouchables“)
* My arguing social statistics with David Weakliem (or discussing math with Andre) is like bringing a knife to a gun fight.

“Pregaming”
* I’ve heard this from my students, and they use it to refer to drinking at home before going out to drink. More generally, I would define it as anticipating an activity of excess by committing that very excess.
* E.g., when my wife asked me why I was snacking so much before Thanksgiving dinner, I told her I was just pregaming.I always appreciate new slang, especially that which is both quirky and informative.