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• 12.09.11 12:56 pm

Lesley Arfin is a writer who lives in Hollywood now working for famous people and Elizabeth Spiridakis is a…

Photo from a Kanon Vodka thing they did.

Lesley Arfin is a writer who lives in Hollywood now working for famous people and Elizabeth Spiridakis is a writer who is the boss of all things fashion. They are both professional linguists who have contorted the language into a patois that is so far removed from the original English, it’s bizzoinkers.

Street Carnage: Here’s a question for both of you. Do you have any idea who came up with “abbreves?” I met my wife in 2000 and I remember she was big on it. I think she brought it from San Francisco where the fags were using it with a vengeance.

Lesley: Oddly I feel as though I was introduced to “abreeves” later in the game, as late as 2007. Emily could have brought it over, sure. I know that Jon Glaser shortened it to “breevs” or “breeving” on “Delocated,” which was one the best episodes eves.

How is “eves” an abbreviation of “ever”?

Lesley: It just is.

Elizabeth: I didn’t start talking like a slightly retarded valley girl with word-related ADD until I started working at magazines around 2003. That scene was all about working with viciously funny fashion gays which means abreeving. Incidentally, Matt Marden at Details (obvi a gay) is the first person I ever heard say OH EM GEE out loud as a declaration and not just a text, like 5 years ago.

Are you both fag hags?

Elizabeth: More so on Twitter than in real life these days.

Lesley: I barely like gay people at all.

Elizabeth, I understand you were very upset by this video where a couple claimed Perez Hilton stole “amazeballs” from them.

Elizabeth: I wouldn’t say I was upset, but its eye-rolling bullshit for those two to think they invented it. When P. Hilton started claiming that he was the father of “amazeballs,” I got lots of Tweets and emails from readers of my blog (and I still get them, last week someone tweeted me about it) saying, “umm… did u know that he is trying to steal your word?” So, for the record, I am not alone in this outrage.

When did you first start using it?

Elizabeth: To be fair, the true originator of “amazeballs” was probably Ece Ozturk or Andrea Oliveri, two of my best friends. We met at Details mag in 2003 and all had a love of ridiculous shorthand and nicknames and dumb jokes like that. Putting “-balls” on everything was pretty standard (starveballs, hungballs, tiballs, exhaustballs = starving, hungry, tired, exhausted. regs vocab for girls at magazines.) I just had a forum to make it more public because I am addicted to the internets and they are just sorta “whatevs” about blogs, etc.

I also noticed women who work at fashion magazines all talk like gangsters. You have these rich, white, socialites with blonde hair saying, “I swear to God, if Chelsea doesn’t show up with my latte, I am going to bust a cap in her ass.”

Elizabeth: For us it was always about making each other laugh by making any normal words unnecessarily fake slang-y.

Do you have evidence of early amazeballs usage?

Elizabeth: I WISH I had all my work emails from back then, bc -balls would be all over them (JOKES!) but I def found gchats from 2006 where I used it and WL blogposts from 2008.

It’s worth noting to the reader that I have seen evidence of said convos and they do exist. I didn’t include them here because the date is at the top of a mile-long conversation with amazeballs about 100 yards down.

Elizabeth: People would just say it was Photoshopped anyway.

Lesley, I understand you own “totes.” When exactly did you come up with that because it’s a fucking HUGE word now (though you can’t really count Google results because of those stupid bags).

Lesley: OK, here’s what: I went to Hampshire college from 97-01. In the Fall of 99, I lived with one of my favorite little lesbians, her name was Michelle. (*She is now Eli). We were cleaning up Mod 100, where we all lived, and I said, “We really need to mop the floor but we don’t have a mop,” and Michelle said, “totes.” I died laughing 10,000 times in a row and from then on we all used it. So the truth is, I believe it was Michelle Weiss who invented it.

HOWEVER: I used it with a vengeance as did Jesse Pearson, former Vice editor, who lived with me at the time. He graduated in the winter of ’99 and probably brought it over to Manhattan where he hung out with you and Amy Kellner who adopted it. BUT I used it in Vice BEFORE Jesse, who may have written something before me but I actually used “Totes” in one of my first articles. Now the world thinks they own it. I’m totes cool with that, considering “totes” is so “breeving 101” at this point. So yeah, I think Michelle aka Eli invented it but I was responsible for its exporting into the mainstream, so I’ll take the credit thank youuuuuuuu.

I INVENTED writing in all caps bee tee dubs.

Lesley: Mabes.

I also think I might have come up with Gnarles in Charge or some kind of Gnarles that blew up, but I can’t remember.

Lesley: You definitely didn’t invent Gnarles In Charge as far as my eardrums are considered, but it’s such an easy go-to that I have a feeling many people believe they invented it. All of the “Gnarles” from my recollection come from Tara Sinn. “Gnarly” is very West Coast, which is where she’s from and happened to grow up with—shocker—Ben Cho. He has a huge part in the history of ‘breeving, but he’s disappeared from the world now. It’s the saddest thing ever because anyone who knows Ben knows that he is the world’s biggest genius, literally, no exaggeration. What’s even sadder is that no one even talks about Ben’s absence anymore because it’s too sad to talk about. If he would be normal again, I believe the world of ‘breeving would be a very different place.

Easy on the “literally,” please. That and “like” are the worst thing about this game.

Lesley: Anyway, he said to me: “Gnarles in Charge,” “Gnarles Barkley,” and even “The Gnarly Lama” (one of my faves that never gets any play). He told me they were invented by his cool friend Tara Sinn and I met her and confirmed this.

I could give you Gnarles Barkley but that’s not such a big deal after the other Gnarles were already around.

Wait, now I remember, Sameena from Built By Wendy said Gnarles in Charge was invented by Steve Dore way back in 1990. I wonder if he started that whole name thing. I think Pinky Carnage is responsible for Lou Gossip, Jr.

Lesley: I disagree but I think you should save the whole name thing for another post.

Take it easy, Britney Tears.

Lesley: For the record, I also invented “L. Ron Tired,” but no one else thinks it’s funny.

In my household we use “ceebs” to mean “cold” as in “chill-based.” We also use “heebs” to mean “hungry,” as in “hunger-based.” Then “weebs” means a “wee bit” which has, no basis in it at all. They can be combined as in “I’m a weebs ceebs” and “I’m a weebs heebs.” What are some of your favorites that you invented?

Lesley: I will 100% give you guys credit for adding “based” to anything. I say “I’m ti based,” which means I’m tired (that is, if I’m not pulling out my own gem, “L. Ron Tired”). You guys also invented “comfers cozers” which I say, as well as “care juice.” Now I’m not sure how common these are but I predict in about three years, everything will get a “based” on the end of it and you will be REALLY annoyed!

Another thing I stole from Ben Cho was saying something is “Incorporated,” obviously sung to the tune of “Kids, Inc.” A big one is “Farts, Inc.” remind me to sing it for you. (Totes, Inc. is also an obvious go-to.)

Dude, Ben has so many that he base created a new language. (I invented “base” with Jeannie Goldman, spring 1998).

Elizabeth: I am a big fan of a portmanteau situation. Crafternoon is one that I swear I didn’t hear before I started blogging it. Any two words that can be forced together…do it.

What are some favorites you use that others have invented (and when mentioning them, mention if you know who invented them)?

Elizabeth: The first time Lessles said “doy bomb,” I thought I was going to die. Any variations on this theme that anyone comes up with (doy latte, doy sauce, doylent green) excite me beyond belief.

Lesley: I’m not taking credit for everything, but I do believe it all started with our little crew in the 2000s. We all used our ‘breeving language in Vice magazine articles, and I honestly believe Vice brought it to the masses.

I think Vice also declared a memorial for these words as well, sometime after me and you stopped writing over there. Obviously they (we) created a monster that will never die. Vice slang came before Perez Hilton even had a dial-up modem. I give that dude credit for nothing, no one should. He’s the Walmart version of anything that was ever slightly funny or cool. He may have been invented by the government. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised.

Elizabeth: One last thing: to give credit where credit is due, I always preferred obvs to obvi (even though I use both) and I sorta credit obvs to Choire Sicha while he was at Gawker.


  1. aesk47 says:

    Montreal is experiencing the “cray” craze right now. Even us stupid frogs have started using it, even tough we’re so dumb-dumb. Doy sauce à poutine.

  2. Guinness says:

    Good lord, I hope there’s irony here.

  3. B says:

    Once again, goes to show that our culture is mostly created by fucking retards.

    Seriously, Gavin, with everything you could have written about, this is what you come up with? “Oh em gee, I totes came up with amazeballs?”

  4. Dynamo says:

    One of these sleazy hooers led me to Fart Party. I enjoyed it.

  5. Wayne says:

    interview with the 2 worst people on earth with an internet connection

  6. iwontslowdown(2) says:

    derrida is appalled/thrilled

  7. blaahus poopus says:

    ^ O this site is the internet senate now? Nothing but sober second thought and serious seriousness?

  8. Spangladesh says:

    I usta wanna bangsac the pussyholes off these broads, but now I’m frilly not sure…

  9. JM says:

    the concept of abbreviating shit for lols is damn near hardwired fool. not these specific abbreviations, but i know ive been doing it with friends since middle school.

  10. sarahspy says:

    well, it’s in writing now, so

  11. blah says:

    It’s like listening to an argument from 1983 about which dingbat invented “gag me with a spoon.” Normally, I really like Gavin (NoMo), but it’s time to dedicate come column inches something more relevant.

    (I invented ‘NoMo’ because it was like, cool, and reminded me of MoMa, see?! Do you see the cool irony? It’s like about art, and gays, and but not like it though.)

  12. Yeah says:

    like what @sarahspy said.

  13. dolphin sex says:

    Well fuck me gently with a chainsaw.

  14. Pogi says:

    Id buy that for a dollar!

  15. vegan jules says:

    Fuck man. This doesn’t make it enticing to move back to New York OR L.A.. But to comment on the positive side, I miss Lesley (I don’t know her).

  16. lesley says:

    FOMO is also really important (Fear Of Missing Out). Not sure who invented it. Someone really smart.

  17. Clarence says:

    You guys should get Aaron Rose to help you make a documentary about yourselves and how important you are.

  18. farts says:

    lesley is so funny

  19. Dildo Bag says:

    Peeps who speakballs but say notes arfin revoltaronious peepholes.

  20. B says:

    wow this is totes relevant

  21. social register nigga says:

    The idea that they invented any of this is wack a mole (get it?), but moreover it’s lame because…who gives a shit?! This is like people saying they invented one of those dumb little internet pictures with captions.

  22. rachelb says:

    more lesley please! seriously where did all the good girl writers go? bring em back!

  23. Anonymous says:

    I thought that “totes” was a reference to those fucked up socks that rich kids used to get for Christmas.

  24. Anonymous says:

    poo poo

  25. blah says:

    @more totes

    This July 2011 article is very prescient:

    “We’re all trying to act less boring and wrinkled with the help of our digital devices. Like sexting, these ladies are using totes to act and sound younger in fields where ageism starts at 25. . . .

    Maybe it’s because teenagers are using totes that it’s well on its way to becoming hated en masse. Regardless of whether the word reaches a plateau of cultural relevance like BFF (now replaced by “bestie”) or OMG (it’s now an Usher and song), its origins will always remain the same, started on Twitter by a crowd of slowly wrinkling brunettes with bangs.”

  26. blaahus poopus says:

    Arfin brings the whimsy, always good in measured doses.

    Those of you who believe this post to be beneath this site, I invite you to a) familiarize yourself with the title of this site; b) peruse previous posts, dealing with prescient topics such as which meth whore you would kill/fuck/marry; c) shut the fuck up and write that mind-blowing, world-shaking, super-duper important blog post yourself, so that we may all bear witness to your heretofore hidden genius.

  27. agentmule says:

    I like these chicks. They are funny. And cute.

  28. Loki says:

    Chill people, they are clearly joking. I’ve been saying totes since high school (in England) and I’m fucking old.

  29. Wtf says:

    Who the fuck read this whole thing?

  30. Kennedy says:

    I worked on a Miley Cyrus movie called So Undercover(coming out in 2013). “Totes” and “amazeballs” are both in the script.

  31. Goat Sampson says:

    that was a Jeopardy question the other day @lesley

  32. I miss the Ask Barfs.

  33. lesley says:

    I’ll write a new Ask Barf but on a side note, how fucking stupid is everyone?

  34. Anonymous says:

    this is just girl talk. it’s as old as girls

  35. ??? says:

    I’m confused. Is this a serious post or what? I’m all for whimsy and all that, but two, 40 year old women talking about who said what first is beyond retarded. Maybe if it was a shorter post… it’s mind numbing.

  36. phil m says:

    “He may have been invented by the government. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised.”

    god, that’s somethin’.

  37. hairy sheets says:

    “i am writing this from high above my denuded FOMO forest, riding the jetpack of a kid chasing his dreams” – a line from my new book titled PARTYING, STARDUST AND FOMO

  38. Anonymous says:

    my mom said “comfer cozers” 30 years ago. i guess that makes her the original hipster.

  39. Katrick Pay says:

    “People would just say it was Photoshopped anyway.”

    Those dumb slang truthers really anger me. Why can’t they give credit where credit’s due?

  40. farts says:

    more barf!!!!!!

  41. cnn says:

    I liked this. Totally stoops and inane for realskies. Also, why did Arf move to LA? thats the pits!

  42. tash says:

    Oi lets get our kevin baconnnnnnnn!!! (lets go get drunk in the sun)

  43. christi bradnox says:

    Gordon Lish invented all of these. You are all liars.

  44. downers says:

    totes hilar!!1!

  45. Anonymous says:

    This was fucking intolerable

  46. BN 08 says:

    The fact that Benjamin Leo respects Leslie Arfin and thinks she is talented and talks to her on twitter is enough to make me never talk to him again. Blognigger is rolling over in his grave

  47. @lesley – Pretty fucking stupid. Especially anonymous internet commenters.

  48. Fuckabitch says:

    Wow, fuck you gavin for building a hipster empire based on stupid shit like this, and fuck you lesley for not writing witty advice on relationship problems

  49. I laughed.

    This article reassures me that when I’m a cantankerous old man missing the good times and raging against Big Government ladies like these may continue to want to hang out with me.

    I miss Barf.

  50. Name says:


  51. […] Read about the girls who coined the words “totes” and “amazeballs”. […]

  52. vegan jules says:

    This post just needs to be shorter. I’m available for employment as editor in 6 months.

  53. chester says:

    Which one of these hot & wet young phillies started the war between cats and dogs?

  54. Dynamo says:

    Hey Jules. You’re clearly a multi-talented individual. In which field do you feel you shine the brightest?

  55. booty says:

    even as a female I totes got bored reading the same thing over and over again.

    however, is ask barf coming back? that shit was real.

  56. vegan jules says:

    @ Dynamo. I have to be amazingly skeptical about your comment given the nature of this site, but thank you. In general I fight on many fronts so it’s hard to make big gains in a lot of my fields, but I’m a pretty good writer, it’s just that people or SC don’t always like what I have to say. Then I’m probably pretty good at photography, getting better in illustration, and could break through in music in a few months. Shooting a new film in 4 or 5 months that I hope will be a big improvement as well. So I’m really as bright as I want to be in nothing yet. And none of it is talent, it’s only about wanting to do it and doing it the hard way. Thanks again.

  57. vegan jules says:

    p.s. barf if you bring back ask Barf can you make it about something other than SEX!SEX!SEX!? It was becoming a bit of ‘Pot Psychology’ and Penthouse letters for the 2010’s.

  58. Lacto-Ovo-Vegetarian Linus says:

    Imagine Rodney King being clobbered by cops on live TV, completely unaware that he was being beaten and only concerned whether the cameras were getting the right angle.

    You’ve just imagined Vegan Jules.

  59. Anonymous says:

    i would read a vegan jules piece.but only if it’s not about veganism.

  60. vegan jules says:

    Haha @ Linus. Yes I am afraid to come back to New York for this reason. There are promises from Street Carnage commenters involving tire-irons and other beatdowns :(

    And maybe a ‘Barf in L.A.’ piece would be interesting. Simple photos of Barf in front of all the places I grew up around would be like porn for me. I.e. Barf at Swingers diner, Barf on melrose, Barf at LACMA, Barf getting touchy-feely with teenagers in suburbia, etc…

  61. blaahus poopus says:

    arf arf arf more Barf.

  62. John says:

    when I was at college the first time around in late 90s early 2000s there was this girl that cracked me up when she called retarded-like people “spesh” as in special. I still use it to this day.

  63. miss appalachian says:

    i’m ‘deprivation-plantation’ when i’m thirsty and over-heated.

  64. tmrsn says:

    Peeps get all wah wah on the kaa kaa, Sup? S’not s’bad.

  65. buster le bron says:

    what a bunch of doodbags. good one right?

  66. By Curious says:

    wut happened 2 ben cho, i dont gettit?

  67. negbox says:

    these pricks are fucking LIARS, totes was invented in sydney australia long before any cunt was saying it or abreevin anything.

    what sad lame fucks, trying to take credit for it.

  68. Andrew says:

    The first time I saw the word Amazeballs in use was in Pokemon Ruby in 2002 at the dojo in Mauville City. These girls are such liars.

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