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These 6 Popular Words and Phrases Actually Came from Television Shows

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Words and phrases are easy to take for granted. With the exception of some new slang, the words we use most often have been around since before we were born. But some might not actually be as old as you think.

These 6 common words and phrases prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that television is a part of our culture that can never be erased. While some of these might be obvious, I’m guessing others will be a complete surprise.

Either way, let’s get into it!

#6. “Cowabunga!”

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If you think this comes from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” well…you’re not right. The surfer slang actually hails from the 1950s and a children’s show called Howdy Doody that used it as a (totally inappropriate) fake Native American language.

#5. “Spam.”

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How did the name of a canned meat product come to mean unwanted mail? The meat (?) was invented during the Great Depression, but it wasn’t until 40 years later that “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” started singing about it incessantly, and for some unknown reason, computer nerds picked it up in the early 1990s.

#4. “Har-de-har.”

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This classic, sarcastic and totally fake belly laugh is thanks to Jackie Gleason and “The Honeymooners,” also from the 1950s.

#3. “Poindexter.”

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While for some of us, this word is synonymous with “nerd,” it actually comes from a show that was super popular in the late 1950s — “Felix the Cat.” In the show, Poindexter is the cat’s glasses-wearing genius nephew, and was supposedly named for the lawyer of the series creator.

#2. “Sorry about that.”

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You’ve probably used this one more than once, but did you know it was made popular on the 1960s show “Get Smart”? There are also other lines from the show that might sound familiar including “missed it by that much” and “the old so-and-so trick.”

#1. “Five-O.”

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You’ve probably used this phrase to refer to the police at some point in your life, but you’ve likely never stopped to think about why. It comes from “Hawaii Five-O,” because the police force in the show was named in honor of Hawaii being the 50th state.