17 Phrases From the Baby Boomer Generation That Are No Longer Relevant

Some phrases from the boomer generation were very popular in their day but they’ve become completely irrelevant now. You’ll find 17 examples of these obsolete phrases in this article.

Dial a Number

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“There’s no actual dial when making a call with today’s numeric keypads. The phrase dates back to the dials that were on rotary phones. To make a call, you’d turn the numbered dial for each digit of the telephone number,” says Ooma.com. This boomer phrase is now obsolete.


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Back in the day, people used to record something on tape when they wanted to see it again. The phrase “taping” is no longer relevant, as we don’t use tapes to record things anymore. This phrase is rather alien to Gen Z and even some millennials.

Hang Up the Phone

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In the days of boomers, phone calls were made on landline phones. You had to put the phone back on the receiver to hang up or end a phone call. This phrase is no longer relevant, as smartphones do not have receivers as landline phones did.

We’re Rolling

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Back in the boomer days, people would say, “We’re rolling” when shooting a movie. They used to say this because the roll of film would literally begin to roll through the camera. It’s no longer correct to use this phrase, as modern equipment doesn’t work in this way.

Roll Down the Window

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Rolling down the window was something that people used to do to open the window in a car. Boomers are very familiar with this phrase. But the action of rolling down a window is becoming less common as modern cars have windows that open at the press of a button.


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According to the Cambridge Dictionary, to rewind is “to make a recording go back towards the beginning.” This phrase goes back to the days when boomers had to physically rewind a tape to rewatch a part of a recording. This physical action has been replaced by the simple “go back” button of modern times.

Tune the Radio

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In the past, it was necessary to tune a radio in order to jump from station to station and to improve the quality of the sound. Boomers know this action well. But this phrase is on its way out, as most radios are now digital and there’s no need to tune them.

Tune Into a Channel

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Back in the boomer days, people used to manually tune into channels by turning the antennas attached to their TVs. This is an action that boomers are very familiar with. Since the dawn of digital TVs, people no longer tune into channels. Instead, we use a remote control to switch from channel to channel.

Switch the TV Off

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Decades ago, TVs had a switch that you would flick to turn them on and off. But turning a TV on and off now is as simple as pressing the button on a remote control. Thanks to Smart Home features, many TVs can be turned on and off with voice commands.

Drop Off Film

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Kodak says that the first cameras with flexible film motion cameras were invented in 1891. But it took decades for cameras with film to become accessible for the average family. Dropping off film was a phrase that described the process of taking your roll of film to be developed at a film processing center.

Pick Up a Newspaper

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Boomers are familiar with the days when you would have to go to a newspaper stand or store to “pick up a newspaper.” But in this digital day and age, people seldom buy newspapers. Most people take advantage of online news and stay up-to-date by checking the websites of reputable channels.

Wind a Clock

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Winding a clock was a delicate process. You had to “gently and slowly move the minute hand in a clockwise direction [and] stop at the appropriate chime or strike intervals and let them complete in full before continuing,” says Chelsea Clock. Nowadays, most people have digital clocks that don’t need winding.

Set an Alarm Clock

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In the boomer days, most people used an alarm clock, which they would have to physically set for it to go off the next day. But setting an alarm clock is a term that has become obsolete because most people use their cell phones to wake them up in the morning.

Drop the Needle

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Listening to music has not always been as simple as it is today. Vinyl records were placed on a turntable, and then the needle was dropped into the grooves for the record to begin playing. Boomers are experts at dropping the needle but most of Gen Z have no idea what this means.

Call Collect

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In the past, if you wanted to make a long-distance phone call without incurring the charges of the call, you would say to the operator, “Call collect.” But thanks to smartphones, the internet, and free calling apps, the need to call collect has completely disappeared.

Wind a Yo-Yo

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“The yo-yo reached fad levels in the late 1940s, throughout the 1950s, and into the early 1960s. By then almost every kid in America had a yo-yo,” says HowStuffWorks. But winding yo-yos has become a phrase that is pretty much unheard of now, as people don’t play with yo-yos anymore.

Yellow Pages

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In the past, people would look for phone numbers in the Yellow Pages. Boomers are very familiar with this way of finding important contact numbers. But with most information now available on the internet, people are no longer using the Yellow Pages, and most Gen Z do not know what one is.

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