How I Met Your Mother is known for many things: A sweet love story, a surprisingly heavy mythology for a comedy, an episode structure that gives fans one tiny morsel of information about twice a year, etc.
But one of the most enjoyable aspects about the long-running comedy is its ability to coin catchphrases that speak to some real issues in the modern world. I mean, how would we solve disputes without Slap Bets? (Relax. Rhetorical question. You shouldn’t slap people in the face.)
Below are 11 of our favorite phrases the show has introduced over its nine seasons. Which ones have worked their way into general pop culture, and which aren’t as obvious to people who haven’t had a Monday night date with CBS? Check out guesses from an EW staffer (Denise Warner) who has never watched the show, then find out the real answers — and tell us your personal favorite HIMYM-isms (ideally while using the term “lawyer’d”).
1.) What’s a Slap Bet?
Newbie guess: Okay, I THINK I know this one, maybe. Jason Segel and Neil Patrick Harris had a bet, and whoever won got to slap the other five times? And Jason won, and so he administered each slap when NPH wasn’t expecting it? There was an episode called “Slapsgiving”! (Possibly?)
Actual answer: Wow, you’re basically right. A Slap Bet is exactly what it sounds like: You bet on something, and if you’re wrong, the other person gets to slap you however many times you agreed upon. (Another person, a Slap Bet Commissioner, oversees.)
2.) What does being “on the hook” mean?
Newbie guess: That’s a thing! It means you’re responsible for something.
Actual answer: True, but on the show, it’s used to reference a relationship between two people — person A is infatuated with person B, person B likes being adored, but isn’t ever going to date them. Person A is “on the hook.”
3.) What’s the Dobler-Dahmer Theory?
Newbie guess: Something to do with Say Anything and Jeffrey Dahmer? So, if you want to sleep with them, they are a Dobler. If you don’t want to sleep with them, a Dahmer? Although that seems harsh.
Actual answer: Mostly correct! I’m just going to let Ted explain this:
4.) What’s the Lemon Law?
Newbie guess: Isn’t the Lemon Law in effect to protect people who buy cars that are lemons? That is — new cars that don’t work and can’t really be fixed.
Actual answer: Conceived by Barney, it’s a rule introduced to avoid spending too long on a date that is going nowhere. The Lemon Law entitles either party on a date to call off the date within the first five minutes with no repercussions or hard feelings. Just cite Lemon Law and you’re out.
I wish this was a real thing.
5.) What’s the Mermaid Theory?
Newbie guess: The Mermaid Theory is the idea that you can get a guy to fall in love with you, even though you’ve lost your voice.
Actual answer: No. It’s the theory that single men and married women can’t really be friends, because eventually, the guy will find her attractive (a.k.a. see her as a mermaid). Take it away, Barney:
6.) What does doing “The Naked Man” mean?
Newbie guess: The running man dance — without clothes.
Actual answer: After an “eh” date, convince the other person to allow you to go up to their apartment. When they’re in another room, get totally naked. When they come back, they’ll be so shocked/amused they’ll hook up with you. Works two out of every three times.
7.) What does “Eating a Sandwich” mean?
Newbie guess: Is this a trick question?
Actual answer: Smoking pot! It’s a cleaned-up euphemism because Ted is telling his kids this story (even though this is FAR from the most inappropriate thing he’s shared with his offspring).
8.) What is Dowisetrepla?
Newbie guess: That’s not a word.
Actual answer: Down Wind from The Sewage Treatment Plant — a.k.a. a New York City neighborhood where you don’t want to live.
9.) What is a Sexless Innkeeper?
Newbie guess: A hotel owner who doesn’t let people have sex in the rooms, because he isn’t getting any.
Actual answer: Barney has a poem for this….
10.) What is a Cockamouse?
Newbie guess: When a rooster and a mouse mate, their offspring make this sound.
Actual answer: A hybrid creature that Marshall finds in the apartment. Bonus: It can fly!
11.) What is The Mosby?
Newbie guess: When you spend nine years telling your kids the story of how he met their mother, only you sound like Bob Saget.
Actual answer: Ted Mosby loves LOVE (probably to a creepy extent). To “Mosby” someone is to freak someone out by revealing way-too-strong feelings way too soon.
Thanks for the vocab lesson, How I Met Your Mother! What are your favorite HIMYM phrases?
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