Government of Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Words That Were: 1960–1969

From Beatlemania to Trudeaumania, the 1960s were a time for icons and iconoclasts alike. Canadians were thinking big: the Trans-Canada Highway officially opened, the Alouette satellites went into orbit, the World's Fair came to Montréal, and St. Paul, Alberta, built the world's first alien landing pad! As the Quiet Revolution was unfolding in Quebec, Marshall McLuhan was shaping the way we think about media. And two years before its 100th birthday, Canada finally raised the very distinctive red-and-white maple leaf flag. Read on for some of the words that the 1960s produced.

Apollo suit
Definition: spacesuit worn by astronauts on the Apollo space missions
Note: The Apollo suit was specially designed to allow astronauts to fly in space and walk on the moon. The suit weighed 82 kg on Earth, but only 14 kg on the moon.
bad trip
Definition: unpleasant or disturbing psychedelic experience resulting from the use of a hallucinogenic drug
Definition: two week-long non-violent protests (one in Amsterdam and one in Montréal), in which John Lennon and Yoko Ono stayed in a hotel bed and talked about peace
Related terms: love-in (gathering of people who promoted love and meditation to protest a social or environmental issue); sit-in (protest in which people sat on the floor or ground to obstruct everyday activities in universities, government buildings, etc.)
Definition: women’s hairstyle that resembled a beehive
boob tube
Definition: television set
Synonym: idiot box
Note: Boob refers to a foolish or stupid person and tube refers to the cathode-ray tube used in old television sets.
Definition: dull or socially inept person
Synonym: dip stick
flower power
Definition: counterculture movement that centred around peace, love, freedom and drugs
Definition: police
Synonyms: heat, pigs
Note: The origin of fuzz is uncertain. It may derive from fuzzy, which in the 1930s was a criminal slang term for “incompetent” and “unmanly.” Or, fuzz may come from the word fuss, meaning that the police are fussy or hard to please. Another theory suggests that fuzz refers to the sound of the field radios commonly used by police.
go-go boots
Definition: square-toed boots with short, square heels that were often paired with miniskirts
Related term: go-go dancing (originated in the early sixties when women got up on tables to dance the twist)
granny glasses
Definition: small wire frames suitable for sunglasses or prescription glasses, sometimes tinted pink or blue and worn by men or women
Synonym: Ben Franklin glasses
Definition: marijuana
Synonyms: dope, Mary Jane, pot, wacky weed, weed
Definition: great, wonderful
Synonyms: boss, cool
Definition: young person who rejected the established culture and advocated peace, love, political change and a liberal lifestyle
Synonym: flower child
let it all hang out
Definition: to be relaxed and totally uninhibited; to act or speak freely
love beads
Definition: one or more long strings of beads worn by hippies as a symbol of peace and love
Note: The love bead trend evolved from hippies' fascination with Indian and Native cultures.
Definition: very short skirt
Note: Miniskirts have come in and out of style since the sixties—interestingly enough, short hemlines signal a booming stock market.
Definition: hairstyle popularized by the Beatles that looked like the hair had been cut along the edge of a bowl
Synonyms: Beatle cut, fringe
Nehru jacket
Definition: hip-length tailored coat with a mandarin collar named after Jawaharial Nehru, the first prime minister of independent India
old lady
Definition: one’s mother, wife or girlfriend
Related term: old man (one’s father, husband or boyfriend)
outta sight
Definition: excellent, superb
Synonym: far out, out of sight
pillbox hat
Definition: round flat-topped woman's hat
The Establishment
Definition: group or elite holding power in a government, organization or society
Synonym: The Man
Definition: hand method of dyeing that involves tying small portions of fabric tightly before dyeing, resulting in irregular patterns
turn on
Definition: take drugs

Test yourself with this quiz: Circa 1960–1969.