Lexicon Grown Broader with Cinema

There are certain phrases such as “Toast”, “As if” and “Catfish” which have become so common in our lives that we wouldn’t even bother to think that their origin could have been popular films. 

Popular culture has always and will continue to contribute to language development, with cinema taking a key role. Linguists are constantly keeping tabs on the phrases that slither its way into the english lexicon. New words introduced by films, at times have only a brief period in the limelight while some become implanted to colloquialism. Some of the phrases which became the latter are,


It first came to use in 1984’s “Ghostbusters,” when Bill Murray uttered “All right, this chick is toast!” This simply gives the meaning dead or doomed. What’s more exciting is that this wasn’t even there in the script and Bill Murray had ad-libbed it. This has now been officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary which says the use of “toast” is taken to mean “Be or be likely to become finished, defunct, or dead.”

“My Bad”

“Clueless” a 1995 film introduced the viewers to slang like “As if” & “Whatever”, in addition to the frequently used “My Bad”. Although the film did not invent the phrase, it played a part in bringing it to the mainstream, providing the exposure to the viewers.

“Hakuna Matata”

“Hakuna matata” a Swahili phrase roughly translated to mean “no worries” gained wide recognition after the popular song “Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase Hakuna Matata! Ain’t no passing craze, It means no worries..For the rest of your days” from Disney’s Lion King which was released in 1994.

“the dark side”

It was the first of the “Star Wars” franchise which popularized this phrase, with Jedis learning the art of resilience to the dark side. As McGraw-Hill defines, it refers to “the negative or troubled part of someone or something that is usually concealed” It appears that the filmmaker, George Lucas has considered light and darkness as metaphors for good and evil.


The 1998’s “BASEketball” coined in this term, which got added into the Oxford Dictionary as “ Used as a substitute for speech regarded as meaningless or stupid, or to comment on a foolish or stupid action.” and to mean “Foolishness or stupidity.”


This phrase managed to achieve world-wide recognition after being featured regularly on the US television cartoon programme “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”.  ‘Cowabunga!’ is typically used to express delight or satisfaction. For example “Cowabunga! It’s an actor’s dream”.


This lengthy phrase which implies something being ‘Extraordinarily good’ or ‘extremely wonderful’ was made popular in the 1964 film, ‘Mary Poppins’. 


When the waitress recites a long list of dishes that mostly contain Spam, a gourmet delicacy of tinned pork shoulder and ham, in the 1970’s film Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the term ‘spam’ came to be used to refer to the junk emails.


According to an Urban Dictionary, a catfish is  “someone who pretends to be someone they’re not” on social media, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances”. This act got its name from the 2010 documentary “Catfish”.


Captain Jack Sparrow uses the phrase “Savvy” as a verb on several occasions as a one-word question. Basically “Savvy?” means “ Do you Understand?

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