11 Urban Dictionary terms that don’t mean what they used to

The Internet is old. Seriously: It’s strange to think we’ve been living under an overpass of the information superhighway for more than 20 years, but here we are. All the drudgery, perversions, and absent-minded commentary we upload to this place on a daily basis is more or less still here, waiting quietly on long-forgotten Xangas, message boards, and MySpace profiles. We’re unwittingly creating the people’s history of the world, together, through our constant vandalizing of this terrible, wonderful place.

One of my favorite repositories of the human condition is Urban Dictionary, the long-running website that allows any cretinous individual with a Web browser to define whatever term he or she thinks is worth defining. It’s generally frequented by teenagers who write lewd nonsense under their enemies’ names, but there’s still a lot of unexpected poignancy. 

And since it’s more than 15 years old, Urban Dictionary hosts both ancient and modern definitions of every term, celebrity, country, genre of music, or sex position known to man. So we decided to flip through its pages and find a couple of definitions of the same word—but separated by a decade or so. How does context change over the course of a decade? Do the teens of today relate to the teens of 2005? Let’s find out!

1) Twitter

To be honest, the definition of Twitter didn’t actually shift all that much. I mean, they both involved assholes.

Urban Dictionary

Urban Dictionary

2) MySpace

Sigh.

Urban Dictionary

Urban Dictionary

3) Obama

Yep, this sounds about right! Big ups to the guy who wrote the old Obama definition though. He had it called back in 2007! That’s crazy!

Urban Dictionary

Urban Dictionary

4) Lance Armstrong

Hahahahahahahaha.

Urban Dictionary

Urban Dictionary

5) Rap

Apparently some things never change.

Urban Dictionary

Urban Dictionary

6) Bro

Always remember: Memes poison everything they touch.

Urban Dictionary

Urban Dictionary

7) AIM

Yes, by 2009, ‘AIM’ referred to some sort of esoteric test for pilots, not that good old-fashioned cybersex platform we all learned to love.

Urban Dictionary

Urban Dictionary

8) Bill Cosby

Yikes.

Urban Dictionary

Urban Dictionary

9) Fleek

Safe to say, that marionette was on fleek.

Urban Dictionary

Urban Dictionary

10) Ratchet

Ah, the salad days when Ratchet could just be a transformer.

Urban Dictionary

Urban Dictionary

11) Badass

Even as a fairly nostalgic person, I can still say that I totally fine with  the likes of Chuck Norris being replaced with the likes of Katniss Everdeen.

Urban Dictionary

Urban Dictionary

Photo via Trevor/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Luke Winkie

Luke Winkie

Entertainment and sports reporter Luke Winkie has written everywhere from A.V Club to Vice, including Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, Kotaku, Playboy, Mel, and Polygon.