Understanding the Language of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Understanding the Language of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

1 Conversation

Apart from its huge cult following, one other thing that Buffy the Vampire Slayer has created is its own unique language, often referred to as Slayer Slang or Buffy-isms. Each character has their own way of speaking and this is evident in many of the quotes.

For instance, a simple two-word quote from Willow is 'Bored now!' Buffy fans know that this as a Willow phrase which is only used when she becomes evil, either as Vampire Willow1 or Evil Willow2.

'When the apocalypse comes, beep me.' - Buffy

'Party in my eye socket and everyone's invited... Sometimes I shouldn't say words.' - Xander

Creating the Language

However, it's not necessarily easy to get so many characters to become so distinctive. In solving this problem, Joss Whedon3 devised the perfect solution - you just create a whole new language. The problem then is simply a matter of creating the language of Buffy, but fortunately it's really quite simple. A lot of the Buffy-isms used within the show were already in existence, such as 'flake', meaning someone who behaves rather oddly, and 'bad', which is used in context to mean a mistake, with an example of the latter coming from the 1995 film, 'Clueless'4, in which one of the characters admits to a mistake by saying 'Oops! My bad'.

The most common of all Buffy-isms were created for the show by using the very simple system of taking an everyday word and expanding it by adding ...ness, ...age or the letter 'y' or 'ey'. An example would be the word 'research' this would be expanded on to become researchy, or the word 'fling' would become flingage. Some more examples are badness, sparkage or rampagy.

'You don't hide! You're bait. Go act baity!' - Xander

'I hate being obvious. All fangy and grr.' - Spike

Pop Culture

Of course you can't invent an entire language for a show such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer without creating a few new words, such as Slayerpalooza, meaning 'the celebration of Slayer', Ewanage, meaning exposure to 'Ewan McGregor' or Otherwhere, an alternative twist on 'elsewhere'.

One of the key aspects to the language was the use of 'pop culture' references, including lines, characters, song/film titles and even quotes from films:

  • 'We're gonna need a bigger boat' - Originally from 'Jaws'5.

  • 'My spider-sense is tingling' - used by 'Spiderman'.

  • 'Does anyone feel like we've been Keyser Sozed?' - A reference to the character from the film 'The Usual Suspects'6.

The references to 'pop culture' were used to describe feelings, appearances and many other situations.

'The count of three isn't a plan, it's Sesame Street7' - Buffy

'I'm the one getting Single White Female'd8 here' - Buffy

Condensed Buffy-isms

Another aspect of the language was condensing information, as Buffy and The Scoobies9 were often in life or death situations and didn't always have time to be all long-winded. For instance, we might say 'We aren't at the stage in our relationship where we send each other flowers', but the Buffy-ism would be 'We're definitely pre-posy'.

This can be used in any situation and by any person, like when Principal Snyder was interviewing Buffy on her return to school:

Buffy - 'So let me get this straight. I'm really allowed back into school because the school board overruled you. Wow! That's like having your whole ability to do this job called into question when you think about it!'

Joyce then turns this into a condensed Buffy-ism with:
'I think what my daughter is trying to say is, nah! nah! n-nah! nah!'

'Fire bad. Tree pretty.' - A quote from Buffy in the last episode of series three, basically indicating that she is tired and unable to think clearly.

And Finally...

Finally, there's Joss Whedon's own contribution to the language. In the end, he was responsible for all the quips, the puns and the hint of sarcasm that really helped to make the show as enjoyable as it was.

'Great, we're not even married yet and already you've stopped listening to me.' - Xander

'One of these days you'll wake up in a coma.' - Cordelia

'No, I'm a rebel, you're an idiot.' - Spike

'I laugh in the face of danger. Then I hide until it goes away.' - Xander

'It's a big rock. I can't wait to tell my friends. They don't have a rock this big!' - Spike

'Harmony's a vampire? She must be dying without a reflection.' - Buffy

Now that you have the basic idea of how to speak Buffy, why not try it yourself? For further reading, see 'Slayer Slang' by Michael Adams, published by Oxford University Press.

1From the episodes 'The Wish' and 'Doppelgangland', where we meet Willow's alternate self from another universe.2Referring to Willow's transformation to evil after the death of her lover at the end of series six.3Creator and writer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.41995 film starring Alicia Silverstone.51975 film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Roy Schneider.61995 film starring Gabriel Byrne.7A reference to the long-running children's TV show.8A 1992 film starring Bridget Fonda.9Referring to the collective group of Buffy's friends.

Bookmark on your Personal Space

Conversations About This Entry

Latest Post

Edited Entry


Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry

Categorised In:

Written by

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more