Pop music will long have a pervasive impact on us – from dictating style trends to inciting global dance crazes and gifting us some unforgettable hooks we can’t stop singing. In fact, some pop lyrics are so popular that words crafted by our fave songwriters have become common lexicon. Here’s just a few words and phrases you use on the regular that stem from some well-known pop songs.
Snoop Dogg has a creative handle on rhyming words and avoiding radio censors. Case in point? The term shizzle, part of a long line of -izzle words Snoop has sprinkled into his lyrics over the years. Interestingly Snoop simply co-opted this style of speaking from street hustlers, who used it as an insider form of speaking to one another. While nizzle and jizzle will have to wait their turn, fo' shizzle – meaning "for sure" – actually made it into the OED in 2015.
This single-syllable word entered the OED in 2007, meaning “due respect; approval, compliments, esteem.” While it had been used in plenty of hip-hop songs and Hollywood productions alike, the word’s etymology comes from the Queen of Respect herself. Aretha Franklin reworked Otis Redding’s lyrics in her version of “Respect” to say “And all I’m askin’ in return honey / Is to give me my propers when you get home,” which Aretha explained was common slang in Detroit to mean mutual respect.
Another popular term coined from the rap world, bling is used to describe ostentatious, flashy jewelry, or in some cases, clothing or shoes. The term is thought to come from Jamaica, where it’s used by locals to describe the sound of jewelry clanking against each other. Rap artist B.G. first brought the term to mainstream music in his 1999 song “Bling Bling,” and soon other rappers picked it up – as did the OED in 2002 and the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2006.
Miley can’t take the credit for this one. Twerking is a dance style that has roots dating back to the 1800s, when it was used as a verb to describe twisting motions of thumbs, spurs, or kitten’s tails. So … not too far off from how DJ Jubilee used it in his 1993 release “Do the Jubilee All” when he instructs you to “A walk it like a serve it / Like a bounce it like twerk it like.”
Business up front, party in the back – this fun, often laughable hairstyle actually comes from the Beastie Boys’ 1994 song “Mullethead,” which literally provides instructions on how to get the look: “Cut the sides / Don’t touch the back.” While the song is less-than-kind to those rocking this dated ’do, it’s given us a lifelong term to laugh along with.
If you’re showing off, you’re flossin’. So goes the definition as first heard in Lil’ Flip’s song “Way We Ball” back in 2005. The word was already being used in African-American slang by this point, to describe people driving slowly through their neighborhoods with the hopes of impressing folks.
This word has a few meanings, but one of its most popular modern-day uses stems from music. Dope as slang for cool was heard in Jimmy Spicer’s 1981 song “Money (Dollar Bill, Y’all).” It’s more than likely that definition stemmed from one of dope’s other synonyms: drugs or narcotics.
What was Will Smith getting on about in his 1997 smash “Getting’ Jiggy Wit It?” Theories have abounded that jiggy either means wild dancing … or wild sex. Either way, the term’s stuck around as a way to describe letting your freak flag fly for a good time.
Today’s super fans will use the word stand as a way to profess their love: “I’m stanning so hard” has even become a commonplace verb usage. It stems from Eminem’s 2000 hit, about a deranged fan named Stan, inspired by the sometimes intense fan mail he received.