Unless you live under a rock, the invasion of TV catchphrases is probably dripping off of your tongue in your daily speech without you even realizing. Language is constantly evolving, and TV is such an integral part of our lives, it makes sense for there to be an overlap between real life speech and that in TV land. To save you the trouble of Googling, here’s our favorite everyday expressions and where they come from.
1. No chick flick moments
Where is it from? Supernatural
Pilot episode, 2005
Sam Winchester: Hey Dean… what I said earlier, about mom and dad, I’m sorry…
Dean Winchester: [raises hand to stop Sam] No chick flick moments.
Sam Winchester: Alright… jerk.
Whether it’s hunting a Monster Of The Week or some big bad from the story arc of the season, any Supernatural fan will tell you that Dean Winchester does not talk about his feelings. At all. It follows then that no chick flick moments has become a regular part of Supernatural’s vocabulary and eleven years on, we still don’t do emotions. Unless it’s subtext.
2. Bite me
Where is it from? Buffy
Helpless, season 3, 1999
Quentin Travers: Congratulations again.
Buffy: Bite me.
Quentin Travers: Yes, well, colorful girl.
You might get cake and copious amounts of vodka for your eighteenth birthday, but you are not a slayer. Or maybe you are – we wouldn’t want to presume. Either way, this episode is about a slayer’s passage of rights to prove her abilities. Buffy speak for go to hell became bite me, said with menace and pointy sticks (optional, should you want to adopt the phrase for yourselves).
3. Winter is coming
Where is it from? Game of Thrones
Winter is coming, pilot episode, 2011
Catelyn Stark: Ned… ten is too young to see such things.
Eddard Stark: He won’t be a boy forever… and winter is coming.
Ned stark would be the first to utter this foreboding phrase but then, what else are you to expect from a character played by Sean Bean? Whether you’re a book or TV fan of the series, this phrase has become synonymous with announcing something ominous on the horizon in a vaguely tongue-in-cheek kind of way.
4. You’re the Scully to my Mulder
Where is it from? X Files
Little Green Men, season 2, 1994
Mulder: The entire tape is blank.
Scully: You know an electrical surge in the outlet during the storm may have degaussed everything. Erasing the entire tape. You still have nothing.
Mulder: I may not have the X-Files, Scully, but I still have my work. I still have you. I still have myself.
What with the X-Files revival quickly emerging on the horizon, we wonder if this phrase will start to see a resurgence. It’s not precisely a quote from the show itself, but you’re the Scully to my Mulder is used to describe someone who is your perfect partner. Or lover. Or both! Which is clearly what Mulder and Scully are to each other. Can we get an aww for the original OTP?
5. How you doin’?
Where is it from? Friends
The one in Vegas: part 1, season 5, 1999
Joey: Hey Rach. How you doin’?
Rachel: I’m doing good baby. How you doin’?
Joey: Ross. Don’t let her drink anymore.
Joey Tribbiani had some of the most memorable quotes in Friends, and how you doin’? might be the most famous. Technically it’s a pick-up line, although we’re not sure if anyone would seriously consider trying – or responding – to it. The phrase has some further heritage, too, seen to be popularised by stereotypical mob bosses, which is probably why this pick-up phrase is partially a nod to Joey’s Italian descent.
Where is it from? Simpsons
Almost every episode…since 1989
Homer Simpson: D’oh!
Ah, the classic Simpsons catchphrase that has been in our vocabulary so long that we don’t even flinch when we find it in the Oxford Dictionary (not really, but definitely dictionary worthy!). To d’oh is to exclaim to yourself when you have done something stupid or been outsmarted. We have all had a d’oh moment in our time.
7. I have a cunning plan
Where’s it from? Blackadder
Back & Forth, 1999
Blackadder: Baldrick, I have a very, very, very cunning plan.
Baldrick: Is it as cunning as a fox what used to be Professor of Cunning at Oxford University but has moved on and is now working for the U.N. at the High Commission of International Cunning Planning?
Blackadder: Yes it is.
Baldrick: Hmm… that’s cunning.
This phrase was first used in the pilot and then in various forms from the third season onwards. It is pretty self-evident: use this when you have thought of an amazing idea and want to brag about it. We just hope you are more successful than Blackadder in executing said idea.
8. Just one more thing
Where is it from? Columbo
Columbo: Playback, season 4, 1975
Columbo: Oh, just one more thing, sir. Uh, I was thinking… in banks, they always have two cameras that cover any area. No offense, but I don’t understand why you went to all this trouble to put in this system, but you only put in one camera, leaving part of the room uncovered.
Harold Van Wick: We only wanted to cover the safe. We expected a thief, not a murder.
Going back a little in TV history to one of our favourite detectives, Columbo provides us with a polite way of having all the answers. During the show, this phrase was used as the big reveal, the ‘you-think-you’ve-gotten-away-with-it-but-here’s-all-the-additional-evidence-I’ve-found’. Use just one more thing to show you’ve caught someone out.
9. Yada yada yada
Where is it from? Seinfeld
The Yada Yada, season 8, 1997
MARCY: You know, a friend of mine thought she got Legionnaire’s Disease in the hot tub.
GEORGE: Really? What happened?
MARCY: Oh, yada yada yada, just some bad egg salad. I’ll be right back. (She gets up)
JERRY: I noticed she’s big on the phrase “yada yada.”
GEORGE: Is “yada yada” bad?
JERRY: No, “yada yada” is good. She’s very succinct.
GEORGE: She is succinct.
JERRY: Yeah, it’s like you’re dating USA Today.
Seinfeld was a hugely popular show and it’s only natural that so many of the phrases coined by the characters became part of everyday speech. It is used to cut an explanation short in the assumption that your listener will know what you are trying to say, or what comes next.
In conclusion, the classic chicken and egg scenario that is TV and language shows that one cannot evolve without the other. Language evolves at a pace that would make Darwin sweat, and that is the beauty of language: there isn’t really a right or wrong as it is constantly changing. If you’d like to know more about language in general or perhaps discover some secondary language skills, why not contact us to see how you can enrich your own vocabulary.