Catchphrases!

Chad White
Catchphrases include: No, I'm not touching myself! Too much mayonnaise! Well I'll be dipped!

Now that all of the hit sitcom Seinfeld is on Hulu, I’m finally able to catch up on all of the episodes I’ve missed. I’m kidding; I’ve already seen everything produced by this show – the important stuff at least. What’s most important? The jokes, the references, the puffy shirt. It’s all been instilled in me over the years through fans using them and me learning the context. Naturally, as soon as the show’s streaming rights was bought by Hulu, I thought it was high time I watched episodes I hadn’t already seen (because TBS plays reruns like there’s no tomorrow).

During my viewing sessions, I noticed the show had a ton of one-liners that are continually used throughout the series. They range from Jerry’s “Hello, Newman” (which is only said a mere sixteen times in the series) to George’s girlfriends’ “yada yada yada.” Catchphrases used to be a pillar in sitcoms. In Diff’rent Strokes, Gary Coleman’s character popularized the phrase “What you talkin ‘bout Willis?” as a way to express his misunderstanding of what Willis Jackson was in fact talking about. Good Times had JJ Walker’s “Dy-no-mite!” These idioms were expressed at least once an episode and they’re often popularized in pop culture.

Click the picture to see the definition, dummy.

Homer Simpson’s “D’Oh” was added to The New Oxford Dictionary of English in 1998 and subsequently to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2001 due to its common use among both fans and non-fans alike. The Simpsons has a few other expressions that caught on including “cowagbunga” although that’s an example of a word that fell off over the years but “eat my shorts” is still fairly popular. Friends too suffers from an outdated saying – Joey’s “How you doin?” method in picking up ladies – but it comes off a bit more comical than most other catchphrases due to its use and meaning.

But what’s really crucial in Seinfeld’s popularity in catchphrasing is the lasting appeal. Reception is key and people will not stop quoting the beloved sitcom. I received the show through recommendations and incessant references mostly from the internet. The double dip comes to mind from the season four episode “The Implant” in which George is confronted by Megan Mullay’s brother for double dipping a chip. “No soup for you!” is often associated with ruining that guy’s life. However, my favorite is “These pretzels are making me thirsty!” from Kramer’s stint on the set of a Woody Allen flick.

Catchphrases aren’t used much now. It’s probably because they were used as a crutch for shows. Now, they rely on bad jokes and overused storylines.