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Is Valley Girl speak like entering the language?

Please can you explain the origins of where the annoying over-use of the word "like" came from?

Does this have anything to do with Facebook?


Logan is so, like, stupid when he says, like, anything!
He's like, he's like an idiot or something. I don't think I like him anymore, like.

  • 6
    As much as I like blaming facebook for various things, I'm afraid we can't in this case. The usage you describe is decades old. You may want to see english.stackexchange.com/questions/1531/…
    – Dusty
    Commented Dec 1, 2010 at 20:37
  • That kind of filler word is fairly common, and they often seem to attract opprobrium. That use of "like" has been hated about as long as it's been in use, and relatives like "you know" are similarly unpopular, but most people use some sound (often just the generic "um") to indicate that kind of filler. The underlying problem is that we can understand speech faster than we can produce it, and therefore we naturally talk faster than we can think. So when we need to catch up to what we've said, we use some kind of filler to hold our place in the conversation.
    – Henry
    Commented Dec 1, 2010 at 22:39

3 Answers 3


The usage of like as a random interjection/hedge/quotative particle is older than most of the girls who are using it nowadays. It certainly predates Facebook by several decades. It's one of the defining characteristics of "valley girl" speech, which originated in California (specifically, the vast tract of suburbia known collectively as the San Fernando Valley) in the 1970's.

  • It should be mentioned that nobody would have cared much about "valley girl" speech if not for the Frank Zappa song of the same name. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valley_Girl_%28song%29 ), which featured large amounts of valspeak from his 14yo daughter. When that song came out half my female classmates started trying to talk like that all the time ... in Oklahoma.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 3, 2011 at 17:57

I disagree with Martha (for the first time). The first instances I'm aware of involving the use of "like" in such a way go back to the Beat culture of the 1950s.

  • 3
    This doesn't actually contradict what I wrote. :)
    – Marthaª
    Commented Dec 1, 2010 at 21:05
  • @Martha You said it started twenty years later then Robusto did. Commented Dec 1, 2010 at 21:08
  • @Martha: Yes, you at least imply that the term originated in the '70s. I find it amusing that your answer polls better in spite of what I consider an obvious flaw, however. :)
    – Robusto
    Commented Dec 1, 2010 at 21:37
  • 4
    No, she says it's one of the defining characteristics of "valley girl" speech, and points out where that style originated. She doesn't claim that this particular feature originated there, though.
    – Henry
    Commented Dec 1, 2010 at 22:36
  • 2
    @Robusto, here, have an upvote. :D I do maintain that what I wrote is completely correct: valspeak started no earlier than the 70s, and one of its defining characteristics is filler "like".
    – Marthaª
    Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 1:12

The others have stated that it goes back a long way.

The use of the word in that context is reasonably automatic I would say. If something is 'like' something else, it implies similarity, but not identical. So as a speech component when people are demonstrating, or usually re-enacting, a former conversation, possibly with a degree of poetic license, then you get:

I was like "Whatever!" and she was like "shut up fool".

Enabling teenagers to speak about themselves in a quote since whenever they started doing so. ;-)

What you have quoted in your question is just that extended by some years to an overused interrogative.

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