The Origins of 9 Gab-Worthy 'Gilmore Girls' Terms
By Angela Tung
Put on another pot of coffee because the Gilmore Girls are back. It was announced recently that Netflix will be airing four 90-minute movies, satisfying Stars Hollow lovers everywhere. For those of you who haven’t visited the fictional Connecticut town lately — or gasp! ever — here’s a guide to a few Gilmoreisms.
There are three, count ‘em, three Lorelais in the Gilmore-verse. There’s the main Lorelai (Lauren Graham), a.k.a. Lorelai Victoria Gilmore, a.k.a. the reigning Lorelai after the death of her steely paternal grandmother, also named Lorelai.
Then there’s Rory, a childhood nickname for Lorelai. In the pilot, Rory explains that she was named after her mother. “She was lying in the hospital thinking about how men name boys after themselves all the time,” Rory says. “So why couldn't women?” Rory’s full name is Lorelai Leigh, which might come from Marilyn Monroe’s gold digging character Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. However, the connection is unclear.
According to Baby Name Wizard, Lorelai derives from the Middle High German Lurlei, which means “ambush cliff." In Germanic legend, Lorelai was a siren who lured sailors to shipwreck. At one point, one-time fiance Max tells Lorelai that she’s “like a mythological creature that casts some kind of spell on [him] and makes [him] act stupid.”
Rory's Hartford-based prep school might be based on Choate Rosemary Hall, an exclusive boarding school in nearby Wallingford. Choate? Chilton? We'll buy it.
In an early episode, it’s mentioned that Sandra Day O’Connor attended Chilton (she was also a Puff, a member of the school’s secret sorority). So did the retired Supreme Court justice really attend a prep school in Connecticut? Alas, no. O’Connor is Texas born and bred, having attended the probably just as exclusive Radford School. But whether she was part of a secret society or not, she won't be saying.
While Rory’s best friend Lane Kim may look like a good girl, she has the soul of a rock goddess. She hides her extensive CD collection from her mother, secretly teaches herself drums, and starts her own band. However, by season three and their first gig, they still didn't have a name (although The Chops and Follow Them to the Edge of the Desert were front-runners). It’s not until season five that the band finally is introduced as Hep-Alien. Believe it or not. Hep-Alien is an anagram of Helen Pai, sometime show producer and always best friend of show creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino.
Not just an annoying toy, the Bop-It is the Gilmore girls’ remedy for awkward social interactions. It’s also a signal that a situation needs livening up, which Rory misinterprets later. “You're pulling out the Bop-it?” she asks Lorelai. “You're already that bored of me?” Of course not: the Bop-It was merely accidentally bopped.
“You’ve been Totsied,” Lorelai tells Luke. What’s a totsy? Lorelai’s odoriferous aunt. “Lovely woman,” says Lorelai. “She hugs you, you smell like her for a month.”
In addition to being Totsied, one might also be Gilmored, the act of having one’s life taken over by the rich, powerful, and pushy, such as Lorelai’s parents. Symptoms include a “tightness in the chest,” and “anger mixed with paralyzing weakness.” Again, Lorelai breaks the bad news to Luke: “You’ve been Gilmored.”
Speaking of the rich and powerful, the Gilmores have nothing on the Huntzbergers, the super-wealthy family of Rory’s Yale boyfriend, Logan. The Huntzbergers are unabashedly based on the New York Times-owning Sulzbergers, says Sherman-Palladino. “The word ‘berger’ is in there.”
So are the Sulzbergers as heartless and snobbish as the Huntzbergers, who have Rory over for dinner only to humiliate her and later tell her she doesn’t have “it” to be a journalist, her lifelong dream? Sherman-Palladino says she can't comment on the personal qualities of the Sulzbergers, only that she wanted the Huntzbergers to be “family of newspaper royalty.”
“I’d say it’s about ninety kropogs or so,” Logan says when asked how far his dorm is from Rory’s. “Fill me in here,” Lorelai says when her parents laugh a little too uproariously. “What’s a kropog?”
A kropog is a Yale-specific unit of measurement, Logan explains, “based on the height of a kid named Kropog.” Maxwell T. Kropog, specifically, class of 1944. While the kropog isn’t real, the smoot is. Created by a fraternity at MIT, one smoot equals five feet seven inches, the height of one Oliver R. Smoot, class of 1962. Smoot was chosen because he was the shortest pledge and because of his awesome name.
8. THE LIFE AND DEATH BRIGADE
Like the kropog, the Life and Death Brigade is fictionalized but probably based on Yale’s real-life secret society, Skull and Bones. The Bones — including Prescott S. Bush, grandfather to 43rd President of the United States George W. — have been accused of robbing the grave of Apache warrior Geronimo. The stunts of the Life and Death Brigade, while still dangerous, are far less controversial, and include old-timey picnics, speaking without using the letter e, and jumping out of airplanes.
9. FINAL FOUR WORDS
Sherman-Palladino chose the final four words of the series long ago, but was never able to reveal them. As most Gilmorians know, she and writer-director husband Daniel left before the last season due to contract disputes with network executives. However, now with the Sherman-Palladino-helmed revival, we’ll finally get to hear those final four words. We wouldn't be surprised if one of them is coffeecoffeecoffee.