Pop Culture

A Century of 'Variety'-Speak

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/4708916/4708923" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Speaking the 'Slanguage'

Selected terms from the trade paper's glossary.

boff (also boffo, boffola) — outstanding (usually refers to box office performance)

chopsocky — a martial arts film

hoofer — dancer

sudser — soap opera

syndie — syndicated television programming, those sold to stations, rather than provided by one of the networks or netlets

Variety, the show business trade paper known for its punchy and playful language, celebrates its 100th birthday this year. Over that time, it has originated such Oxford English Dictionary entries as "striptease," "payola" and "boffo."

As Tim Gray, the paper's executive editor notes, getting familiar with the publication can be like learning a foreign language. But, he says, "There is a certain amount of silly fun in slanguage, because show business people take themselves so seriously." His book, The Hollywood Dictionary, is being released this fall.

Related NPR Stories

Books Featured In This Story

The Hollywood Dictionary

by T. M. Gray, J. C. Suarez, Timothy M. Gray and Jean-Claude Suares

Hardcover, 94 pages |


Purchase Featured Book

The Hollywood Dictionary
T. M. Gray, J. C. Suarez, et al

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from