9 Super-common words you never knew were created by movies

9 Super-common words you never knew were created by movies

You may know someone who quotes their favourite movies all the time, but did you know you're probably doing the same, just without knowing it? Once you look into the origin of certain words, you can discover that simple phrases you can say in your day-to-day life weren't part of the English language until Hollywood popularised them.

From Ghostbusters to Clueless, you'll be surprised how much you learned from the movies.

1. Gaslighting

Gaslighting is the act of manipulating someone into questioning their own sanity and recollection of events - something which often comes up in abusive relationships. It actually comes from a movie in the 40s, named 'Gas Light'. In the movie, a husband tries to drive his wife insane by insisting that the gaslights in their house didn't flicker.

In the 50s, this became "giving someone the gaslight treatment," and by the 60s it became the verb, "gaslighting", according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

2. Toast

Well, not the word 'toast', but one particular usage. In Ghostbusters, Bill Murray says, "All right, this chick is toast!" - the first known instance of the word meaning dead, doomed or finished - according to The Oxford English Dictionary.

3. Catfish

You probably know the TV show Catfish, in which people with fake online personas are tracked down - but it actually all started in the 2010 documentary of the same name, in which a man (later the host of the show) slowly learns that a woman he is in love with online is using a fake identity. Some have questioned the truth of the documentary, but it still made the word part of our vernacular, both as a verb and a noun for those who lie about themselves on the internet.

4. Yippie-ki-yay

Most of associate this word with John McClane in Die Hard, when he utters the iconic line: "Yippie-ki-yay, motherfucker" - not knowing it will eventually become a catchphrase for the character. While there are variations of the word going back to the 30s, with Bing Crosby singing "yippie yi yo kayah" - this particular version originated on the set of the movie.

5. Derp

While this term may only really be used by teenage boys on Reddit nowadays, it still made its way into the Oxford dictionary as "a substitute for speechregarded as meaningless or stupid". The word first turned up in the 1998 movie 'BASEketball', starring South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

6. The dark side

Even though we all think of Darth Vader when we hear 'the dark side', you would think it came about somewhere else first, right? Well, it turns out that the idea of 'going to the dark side' or 'having a dark side' was popularized in Star Wars.

7. Bucket list

Remember the 2007 movie The Bucket List? Two terminally ill strangers decide to tick off items on their list before they 'kick the bucket' in the movie, but as it turns out they were the first two use the phrase. The film's screenwriter, Justin Zackham, invented the term back in 1999 when he came up with his own bucket list - and the movie made it so popular we all assumed it had been around for years.

8. My bad

A lot of slang associated with teenagers was actually pretty new to the scene when Clueless hit cinemas in 1995. It popularized plenty of already-present slang like "as if!" and "whatever", but it also brought the phrase "my bad" into common vernacular, after only being used rarely in sports beforehand.


I'm just going to assume that you already know what this one means - but if not, maybe search "MILF urban dictionary", to avoid any dodgy material. The acronym became well-known after its appearance in the 1999 raunchy comedy American Pie, in which John Cho's (unnamed) character uses the term repeatedly and even defines the term for his friends.

So, even if you don't think of yourself as a movie obsessive, you're probably using quite a lot of movie quotes each and every day anyway. But at the end of the day, it isn't exactly a bad thing to be accidentally quoting Bill Murray.