5 Common Expressions Younger Generations Won’t Understand

Why does a phone “ring”?

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Were phones once circular? Did lovers offer them to each other to signify an eternal promise of love when they got engaged? Is it called a “ring” because having to wait for someone to answer makes you want to throw it into Mount Doom and destroy it forever?

What we will have to tell them: No, youthful ignoramus, the phone “rings” because in days of old there used to be a bell inside that was pulled by a tiny, joyful gnome. Then again, by the time we were old enough to use the phrase “the phone is ringing,” the gnomes had retired and the bells had been recycled into holiday ornaments. Even in our own youth, actual gnome phones were rare. We sympathize with your uncertainty.

Why do we “roll up” the car window?

What the youngsters will probably think:

Were windows the sleeves of the car uniform, to be rolled up in an expression of mediocre fashion? Or were they made out of wheels? 

Did the windows perhaps consist entirely of homebaked rolls? Maybe rolls of toilet paper? There are just so many possibilities. We’re going to need your help narrowing down these options, Gran.

What we will have to tell them: My dear blossom of sunshine, the true meaning of “roll” derived from the wheels that covered the windows. Did you know that windows were made out of wheels? No? Ah, you are simply showing your youth once again. And no, I don’t understand the technology behind it — I was an English major, not a scientist.

What does “English major” mean?

What the youngsters will probably think:

Does “major” mean that it was a military position? Did you, like, go around speaking English at people? Were you basically weaponized words? That’s so cool that you’ve killed bad guys just by talking. I’m super intimidated by your background now, Gran. Jennifer won’t even come over to our house anymore because she thinks my scary English major grandma will reduce her to a pile of burned ashes by saying hello.

What we will have to tell them: Wait, what, little cup of flavored butter? No, tell Jennifer that she’s wrong … what is the matter with you kids? Has it been that long since our university system was eradicated?

All it means is that I went to college—that’s that place where we took classes in things that we were interested in and eventually got little pieces of paper that told us that we were qualified to tell people that we were pretty good at those things, and my thing involved reading a lot of books in the language that we already speak.


Why do we call collections of words “books”?

What the youngsters will probably think:

Grandma, you talk so much about “reading” and “books,” but our generation is not familiar with those concepts because we are so used to information being transmitted directly into our brain via a combination of magic, pictures, internet, and probably also the devil. We are accustomed to receiving all information at exactly the same time, so the idea of experiencing a narrative over a period of time is practically incomprehensible. Also, we have very few brain cells.

What we will have to tell them: Dearest love buggy of my own heart, it is so difficult for me to watch your degenerate generation struggle to function in the world that we millennials have created. If only you had lived your lives like we lived ours, you might not be asking such ridiculous questions. In my day …

Why does literally everyone older than us use the phrase “in my day”?

What the youngsters will probably think: Our generation has it so hard, dealing with all you old millennials who think that your struggles get to define the generations younger than you as well. Weren’t you ever young? Didn’t you ever have anyone refuse to believe in you because they thought they knew better than you even when they didn’t? Do you remember nothing from your youth?

What we will have to tell them: Oh, sweet child of the moon seas, let me explain to you your sorrows. The phrase “in my day” refers to the sweet spot of youth about which every older generation will always reminisce when idealizing how things “should be” based on their own history of personal happiness.

Please let us have this because it would suck so much to be the first generation to miss out on this opportunity. You have to allow us some outrage, even if the replacements are totally viable and actually demonstrate a positive trajectory for future generations and their own learning acquisition and socialization processes. At the very least, can you just pretend to be interested in what I say? I need this.

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