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November 20, 2003

Slang of the Week: barney (noun)
derogatory term for an inexperienced or unsophisticated person

I don’t surf at Rubble Beach anymore. There are too many barneys there on the weekends.

Celebrity quote:
“Met a local girl boy she was fine, you rode across the beach. You're just a barney surfer from across the way…”
-from the song Hui by the Ws

The linguistic impact of The Flintstones can be traced though history from it’s creation in 1960. Originally intended as family fare and shown in prime time, like The Simpsons, it was rebroadcast during the day as a children’s show seven years later.

So it’s not surprising that the names of Flintstones characters began to crop up in slang in the early 80s, just as those who had watched it as kids were entering high school and college. With the exceptions of baby Bamm-Bamm and Dino the Dinosaur, all of the main characters' names have taken on second meanings.

The word barney, from the character Barney Rubble, is especially popular among surfers and mountain bikers. They often use it disparagingly about new or aspiring participants they believe are getting in the way of ‘real’ athletes. Fred (Flintstone) also lends his name to a word for ‘fool’ which can be used as a synonym for barney.

A wilma, named for Fred’s wife, is an ugly and/or stupid woman, but a betty, (Barney’s wife) is a very attractive woman. As for Pebbles, the Flintsones’ daughter, she did get a breakfast cereal named after her, but the fact that her name is slang is purely coincidental. Pebbles, like rocks, is another name for crack cocaine, but it is derived from the physical description of the drug.

What’s new at Slang City?
Talk about Bad Baby Names! In MUSIC, the late country legend Johnny Cash explains the horrors of growing up with a woman's name in A Boy Named Sue.