There are many popular phrases in the English language, but have you ever wondered where they came from? While many slang terms have roots in various traditions, literature, and even movies, there are quite a few that come from television shows. It makes sense, after all — with so many people tuning into the same series, a few phrases were bound to enter the American lexicon.
We have these TV series to thank for giving us common words such as “regifting” and “friend zone.” You might have assumed that these words were floating around long before the 1990s, but it wasn’t until Seinfeld and Friends that they became commonplace. Have you ever called someone a “Poindexter” or a “Debbie Downer?” Yep, you can thank TV for those too.
While some shows take a word and give it a new meaning, others can actually be credited with inventing a whole new word. Take “cowabunga,” for instance — the phrase commonly used by surfers in the 1960s was actually created for the kids’ show Howdy Doody a decade earlier. Then, in the late 1980s, it would see a resurgence when used in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Who knew that such a fun, nonsensical word could be traced back to two different children’s television series?
Below, you’ll learn more about the different TV programs that inspired these well-known expressions. You may even be surprised to learn that some of these phrases originally debuted on a television show — you’ll never think of them the same way again.
10 Popular Phrases Invented By TV Shows
These everyday phrases have their roots in lines of dialogue from television series.
10 Movie Titles That Became Common Phrases
How many of these terms do you use in conversation?