13 Spectacular Terms from Seinfeld
By Angela Tung
Jerry and the gang hated a lot of things: the dreaded pop-in, incessantly barking dogs, and, of course, Newman. But one thing they loved were words.
The show about nothing had a name for everything—from really bad B.O. (B.B.O.), to the sneak who takes undeserved credit (the sidler), to various relationship maneuvers (the leave-behind, the preemptive breakup, sexual perjury). Here are 15 more magnificent terms coined by Jerry and company.
1. CLOSE TALKER
The close talker joins a litany of annoying speaking styles (see low talker and high talker) by getting way too close and personal.
Close talkers lack awareness about personal space. Instead of staying in the much more comfortable friend-, acquaintance-, and stranger-zones, they impinge upon your intimate space. While sometimes, such as on a crowded subway, there’s no way to avoid this invasion, a close talker might make such situations even creepier.
The label-maker Jerry gets from Tim Whatley looks familiar to Elaine—that’s because it’s the same one she gave Tim. “He recycled this gift!” she cries. “He’s a regifter!”
This Seinfeld-coined word was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2009 as a derivative of regift. The word regift is much older, originating in the early 19th century to refer to giving an additional gift. In the 1940s it came to mean to give an unwanted gift to someone.
3. DOUBLE DIP
Oh George, you of shirtless BMs and eating out of the trash, it's no surprise you think double-dipping a chip is perfectly fine.
The term double dip has been around since the early 1900s but with different meanings. It could refer to something “coated twice,” like the double-dip matches manufactured in 1907 or, starting the 1940s, it could allude to the practice of holding a second job while receiving a pension from a prior one.
A June 2015 addition to the OED is double-dip recession, a recession in which a period of decline is followed by a short period of growth followed by another decline.
As for whether or not double-dipping a chip really is like “putting your whole mouth right in the dip," the answer is no. Doing so adds a little bacteria to the dip but not as much as plunging your kisser in the bowl.
“She had man-hands,” Jerry says of Gillian, “Like a creature out of Greek Mythology...part woman, part horrible beast.” Man-hands are hands that look disproportionately strong and beefy on a woman. Perhaps slightly worse would be man-hands in a hand sandwich, or a handshake between two hands.
5. FUNERAL HELLO
Not to be confused with the French leave or Irish goodbye, the funeral hello is an understated, often mute greeting, like those given at a funeral. As George says, you can’t say, “Hey, you look fabulous!” (Nor would you want to say “Hellooooo!”)
The mimbo in question is Elaine's boyfriend Tony, a good-looking yet vapid man. In other words, he's a male bimbo.
Mimbo is a variation on himbo, which originated a few years earlier in 1988. As for the word bimbo, it hasn’t always meant hot and dumb. It came about in 1919 as a shortening of the Italian bambino, or “baby,” and it was used to refer to a contemptuous man. By the early 1920s, it also meant “floozie," and later that decade the word came to mean an attractive woman with limited intelligence.
“Do women know about shrinkage?” George asks Elaine. “Like laundry?” she says. No, not like laundry.
Temporary shrinkage happens when cold temperatures cause blood vessels in the penis to shut down. Another culprit is stress, since it affects the sympathetic nervous system in a similar way that cold does.
“You've got shiksappeal,” George tells Elaine. “Jewish men love the idea of meeting a woman that's not like their mother.”
Shiksappeal describes the supposed phenomenon of Jewish men being attracted to non-Jewish or gentile women, otherwise known as shiksas. In Jewish culture, the word shiksa is disparaging and ultimately comes from the Hebrew word sheqes, meaning “detested thing.”
In 1995, pharmaceutical company Wyeth ceased production of the Today Sponge, and later that year Elaine bemoans the loss in the episode "The Sponge." In it, she stocks up on the contraceptive and interviews men to see if they are sponge-worthy.
Elaine would be happy to know that the Today Sponge came back in 2007.
Kramer is told he has kavorka, Latvian for “the lure of the animal," a power which draws women to him, to be "possessed by him."
While there's no doubt that this is true, whether or not kavorka is a real Latvian word is questionable. One source says no while others have speculated that the word might be a play on Jack Kevorkian, the pro-assisted suicide physician much in the news in the 1990s, or Kaborka, a probably made-up place name from the film The Hospital.
11. MASTER OF MY DOMAIN
“Are you still master of your domain?” Jerry asks. “I am king of the county,” George says. “I’m queen of the castle,” proclaims Elaine. In other words, they’ve successfully abstained from masturbation. Related is sexual camel, someone who can survive for long periods without sex.
George’s father’s alternative to Christmas involves the airing of grievances (or telling your family members how they’ve disappointed you over the year), feats of strength, and an aluminum pole (which you can find any time of year when you Google “Festivus”).
13. YADA YADA YADA
What begins as a shortcut over uninteresting information quickly becomes a yada yada over “the best part,” as Jerry puts it. In George’s girlfriend’s case, the yada yada is sex with an ex, while in George’s, it’s his fiance’s demise.
While Seinfeld further popularized the phrase, variations of yada yada yada have been around since at least the 1940s. Different forms include yatata, Lenny Bruce's yaddeyahdah, and the 19th century yatter, Scots dialect for “idle talk."
Yada yada appeared in the early 1970s with the song Yada Yada La Scala by Dory Previn.