The Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BTVS) universe, or the Buffyverse, has always been about more than dusting vampires and banishing demons. It's also been about language. Slang, neologisms, new word forms. English professor Michael Adams explores them all and more in Slayer Slang: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Lexicon. Here we put a stake in 10 of our favorites on the 20th anniversary of the show's debut.
The Buffmyster. The Buffster. The Buffinator. Whatever you call her, she's the Chosen One. She also has a name that was popular in the 1960s and ‘70s, perhaps because of Buffy Sainte-Marie—a Native Canadian singer prominent at the time—or the character Buffy on the sitcom Family Affair, which ran from 1966 to 1971.
In the movie Bring It On, the name refers to a stereotypical cheerleader: "Can we beat these Buffys down so I can go home?" It’s not clear if this refers to Buffy’s short stint as a cheerleader on the show although there is a Bring It On-BTVS connection: Three actors in the film—Eliza Dushku, Clare Kramer, and Nicole Bilderback—were also on Buffy as, respectively, Faith, Glory, and unnamed lackey of mean girl Cordelia Chase.
"Punishing yourself like this is pointless," Giles says. "It's entirely pointy," Buffy responds. Pointy here means purposeful and meaningful—the opposite of pointless. It's also the nickname of Buffy's favorite vampire-slaying stake, Mr. Pointy.
The slaying of vampires, demons, or any otherworldly baddies. Adding the suffix -age is common in Buffyspeak, according to Adams. There’s saveage, as in "world saveage," and kissage, a term for kissing. Kissage was actually first used by Rudyard Kipling in 1886.
Shortening or truncation is also a common technique. "What's the sitch?" Buffy asks. In other words, “What’s the situation?” According to show writer and linguist Jane Espenson, Buffy creator Joss Whedon has used "sitch" since at least his college days. “Sitch me” translates as “Bring me up to date on the situation.”
5. SCOOBY GANG
Also known as the Slayerettes and the Scoobies, the Scooby Gang's core members are Buffy, watcher/librarian Giles, witch Willow, and wisecracking everyman Xander. The gang also includes a rotating cast of characters such as Cordelia, vampire-with-a-soul Angel, and former demon Anya. Scooby Gang is named after the "meddling kids" from the cartoon Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! A 2002 film version starred Buffy's Sarah Michelle Gellar as Daphne.
6. FIVE BY FIVE
“As long as you don't go scratching at me or humping my leg,” rogue slayer Faith tells sometime-werewolf Oz, “we're five-by-five, you know?" This term meaning satisfied or good originally referred to the “the clarity of a radio signal,” Adams writes, “as measured according to five-point scales.” It originated in the 1940s as U.S. military slang.
Five by five made a recent reappearance in the Gilmore Girls revival, written by professed Buffy-holic Amy Sherman Palladino. "I’m five by five,” Rory says. “I was watching a Buffy marathon and some things stick.”
"That place just gives me the wiggins," Buffy says. The wiggins is a state of fear, perhaps like an agitated version of “the creeps.” The term comes from 1950s slang wig out, to get excited or upset.
In the Buffy episode "Halloween," the slayer notes that Angel is “not exactly one to overshare." While not coined by the BTVS writers, this term for excessively sharing personal information may have been popularized by the show. Visual Thesaurus says an early usage is from 1996 while this episode of Buffy aired in 1997.
9. EDGE GIRL
"You really got some quality rage going. Really gives you an edge,” Faith tells Buffy. "Edge Girl," Buffy responds. "Just what I always wanted to be." Edge Girl is a play on It girl, a stylish and well-known young woman. The term "It girl" was coined by British writer Elinor Glyn in reference to silent film star Clara Bow, while “it” meaning sex appeal originated with Rudyard Kipling.
"I cannot believe that you of all people are trying to Scully me," Buffy says to Giles. Scully, of course, refers to skeptical Agent Dana Scully of The X-Files.