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Words we use that Come from Movies

Pop culture obviously influences the way that people live, but it also greatly influences the ways people speak. Multiple words and phrases we use today derive from movies. While it’s easy to know where phrases such as “Use The Force” and “Shaken, not Stirred,” come from, some other sayings that have entered the American lexicon come from movies that weren’t from major movie hits. Here are five.

  1. Plethora: The word plethora, meaning a large amount of something, has existed since 16th century England, but was repopularized with the 1986 movie Three Amigos. This movie brought the term that had not been used much since the 1770s back into the public sphere and “plethora” is now used commonly.

  2. Toast: No, a movie did not invent the commonly eaten form of bread. However, the 1980s Ghostbusters gave a new meaning to the word, which is referring to someone or something as “being toast,” or defunct.

  3. My bad: This is not so much a word as it is a phrase. While the term “my bad” was first used as a replacement for “my fault” in 1985, it was popularized immensely by Clueless. In fact, a large part of Valley Girl slang came into the public eye because of Amy Heckerling’s 90’s rom-com. “As if” and “whatever” both became more commonly used after the movie’s release.

  4. Gaslight: Gaslighting, or trying to convince someone that they are crazy (particularly for being upset over something), is a term commonly used by therapists, as it has become a notably common aspect of unhealthy relationships. However, the term originated from the movie Gaslight, in which a man tries to drive his wife crazy. His actions sparked the actions of real people being given a name that would be easily recognized at the time.

  5. Bucket List: Most people refer to their bucket list, or list of things they want to accomplish within their lifetime, frequently. The term originates from the movie The Bucket List. Although the movie did not come out until 2007, the writer of the screenplay first used the term in 1999.

Emily Miller is a public relations associate with Complete PR in Greenville. She can be reached at

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