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20 Hilarious Slang Terms For Drugs Throughout History

Updated September 23, 2021 7.7k votes 1.4k voters 66.5k views20 items

List RulesVote up the old-timey drug slang you most want to see make a comeback.

Slang terms for substances like coke are usually pretty straightforward - snow, sleet, ice, etc. Anything white, really. However, marijuana slang names are as random as they are plentiful. Sure, sometimes they make sense - when referring to color or the effect they have - but there are some pretty weird slang terms out there that, seriously, only stoners could come up with. While they aren't exactly the word-smiths of today, coming up with slang like “a rock-bottom pirate,” to describe the cringe-worthy combination of nutmeg, alcohol, and opiates, certainly takes a certain level of drug-induced creativity.

Old slang words for drugs, especially those from the 1920s through the 1960s, encompass a variety of barbiturates, bootleg liquor, and of course marijuana and cocaine. Collected here are just some of the many old drug slang words scattered throughout history.

  • In the 1940s, marijuana started being referred to as "reefer," which may have been a play on the Mexican word "griefo." The anti-marijuana propaganda film Reefer Madness actually helped to popularize the term.

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  • Photo: YouTube


    Cocaine was at the peak of its popularity during the 1970s and 1980s. It was glamorized in film and music and really began to "influence" American culture. It’s incredibly strange that a drug you snort ended up being nicknamed "blow." Perhaps it makes you want to blow your nose, or maybe it’s because you to blow all your money on it. Either way, the term stuck and, thanks to the Johnny Depp film of the same name, it’s probably not going anywhere.

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  • Photo: Pinterest


    "Ludes" was the lazy 1970s term for Quaaludes. Since the drug is a sedative-hypnotic, its users probably couldn't muster up the energy to say the full word and just slurred "ludes" instead.

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  • Photo: Mayer 8 / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    Black Beauties

    "Black Beauties" was slang for speed back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They became especially popular for weight loss because they killed your appetite, made you hyper, and had a little dash of euphoria thrown in for good measure.

    They also became pretty popular among truck drivers because they kept them awake, focused, and apparently had the ability to kill the boredom of repetitive tasks like driving.

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