Pop Culture Vocabulary

I'm always fascinated when certain concepts from movies or television break free from their sources and become part of the pop culture lexicon. This is different from popular quotes or characters. What I'm talking about are those instances where things themselves become shorthand for ideas. Examples I've been able to come up with: • Mr. Mom (n.): Now-dated slang for a father lending a hand in what were stereotypically motherly tasks. • MacGyver (v.): To rig up a needlessly complicated device or mechanism. • Daisy Dukes (n.): Short shorts existed long before The Dukes of Hazzard, but this became a catch-all phrase. • Gaslight (v.): To cruelly destroy someone's memory or perception.

What's important is that these phrases hint at their origin but aren't dependent upon it, becoming broader in application over time. For instance, gaslighting doesn't mean to drive one's wife insane as part of a complicated heist, but rather, to generally manipulate someone's perception of reality. These phrases become larger than the works that inspired them. Seinfeld wound up popularizing some, too (like "close talker"), but just as often those were catch phrases that lived and died with the show.

There have to be more than these few I've listed. I just need to start remembering them.