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File:Avenginghuh 9843.jpg

Falling in love with the hired help does not meet with your dad's approval, Jan.

Snarky question used to imply that whatever the previous speaker was describing, the real subject matter at hand is sex:


 Sweet Young Thing: ...And I've been lobbying heavily among the trustees to see that this new rule is passed!

Evil Mrs. Calhoun: "Lobbying heavily"? Is that what they're calling it now?


Alternate phrasings include "Is that what you kids are calling it these days?" and "Well, I've never heard it called that before."

While not limited to either gender, it does seem to be applied to eager young females most often, usually by older women who may feel threatened by them.

This happens in many examples of Truth in Television as well: For example, when Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa admitted to having an extramarital affair with a Telemundo reporter who was the Mayor's Office Correspondent for the station, the number of different phrases that "it" could be called expanded into a Hurricane of Euphemisms. ("Covering the mayor's job", "reporting on his affairs", "staying on top of his agenda", "working the beat", etc.)

This can extend to non-sexual subjects, if the subject of the remarker's disapproval is clear (Kangaroo courts, for example — "We will, of course, be giving you a fair trial." "Oh, is that what you call it?").

See also Have a Gay Old Time. Contrast Accidental Innuendo.

Examples of Is That What They're Calling It Now? include:

Comic Books

  • In Spider-Man 2099, Miguel O'Hara, the future version of Spider-Man, is caught by his girlfriend with another woman. He explains "We just... clicked." to which she replies "You clicked? Is that what it's called now?" After further argument, her parting shot is "Click you!"
  • Mr Mxyzptlk, discussing Batman and Robin with Bat-Mite: "Youthful ward? Is that what they're calling it these days?"
  • As the pic suggests, this line comes into play in Marvel Adventures: Avengers, where Janet has a crush on one of her dad's employees.
  • In The Incredible Hercules, Herc uses this line when Namora puts him in an "Atlantean crab hold" during a sparring match. Namora shoots back an Ironic Echo at the end of the same arc, when Hercules suggests using an Olympian eagle strike in combat.
  • Not so subtly used in a spinoff strip to Batman: The Animated Series. When Harley refers to her and Ivy playing, Batgirl initially, and correctly, thinks they're more than friends. Hilarity Ensues.
  • In Comicbook/Incredible Hulks #627, when a mythology expert is briefing NATO on the Power Level of the recently stolen Pandora's Box, her usage of "Hercs" as a unit of measurement for the energy radiated by mythological objects and entities is inquired about, leading to this exchange:

 Dr. Sofia di Cosimo: The god Hercules was the first mythological figure I was able to access and... ah... test.

General Gladwell: So that's what you kids are calling it these days.

    • As she mentions later to Banner, she really did date Hercules.


  • In Foundations Harry's colleagues demand that he tells them how his lunch with Draco and Narcissa Malfoy went. When Harry says "Well... Draco's peacock bit me", Cecile wants to know if that's a euphemism. It's not.
  • Are You There God? It's me, Canada has Arthur asking Francis for "help levelling the dresser in the bedroom".
  • In One Thing Leads to Another, BB says : "Sure you 'talked'. Is that what the kids are calling it these days?" after Robin tells him he and Starfire "had a long talk last night" to resolve an argument that was really hurting the entire team. Of course, Beast Boy, due to his animal senses, is fully aware what this "talk" involved.


  • In body-swap comedy Its a Boy Girl Thing Woody (Nell's personality in Woody's body, actually) comes downstairs after studying with Nell (Woody in disguise). His father asks him how things with Nell have been going to which he replies "we were studying." The father then merrily applies the trope: "so that's what you call it these days."
  • Last Man Standing (1996).

 John Smith: "Strazzi said he had brought the girl along to keep up his morale. That's the first time I had ever heard it called that."

  • The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain: Morgan the Goat claims Betty is "advising me on the refurbishment of my establishment". His girlfriend/mistress replies "Refurbishing your establishment? I've never heard it called that before."
  • Nick from Push does a non-sexual version of this when Cassie uses the term "second-generation mover" to describe Nick. He quips "Is that what they're calling it these days?" This is more because he's a smartass than anything else.
  • In the film made of the Stephen King short story Umney's Last Case, a 1930's private eye swaps places with the modern day author who created him. He opens the door to find a girl with an uncanny resemblance to his Sassy Secretary from the past, dressed in a halter top and shorts, saying she's here to clean his pool. Naturally this leads to a "Is that what they're calling it now?" line.
  • In Moulin Rouge, Ewan Mc Gregor is trying to get Satine to listen to his poetry. She think he's there for sex and being shy about it (to be fair, she is a prostitute).

 Satine: Oh, poetry. I love a little poetry after supper.


 Teddy: Look, you guys can go around if you want to; I'm crossing here. And while you guys are dragging your candy asses half way across the state and back, I'll be waiting for you on the other side, relaxing with my thoughts.

Gordie: Do you use your left hand or your right hand for that?



  • Perhaps the Ur Example of this trope comes from Boccaccio's Decameron (Day 3, Story 10)--one of the most outrageously dirty things ever put in print. So much so that it wasn't even translated into English until the late 19th century--Edward Gibbon refused to translate it in his version, saying it was too 'smutty'.
    • The actual expression, for those who won't click the link, is "putting the Devil in Hell."
  • Used in the last book in the Midnighters series by the resident Smart Guy

Live Action TV

  • From Burn Notice, the hero's best friend is commenting on the wisdom of the hero's choosing his (admittedly very well-trained and well-armed) ex-girlfriend for backup.

 Sam: You sure this is a good idea, you hookin' up with her again?

Mike: I'm not hooking up with her. That's not what's happening. I need her for tactical support.

Sam: * chuckling* Is that what they're calling it these days? Tactical support?

  • The end of Lost season 2, with the whole "got caught in a net" thing: following weeks of UST between them, Jack and Kate go out on a mission and spend a night in a jungle, being caught in a net among other things. When Sawyer asks what they were doing out there, all he gets is "got caught in a net" reply and mistakes it for sex euphemism. For the several following episodes he sarcastically refers to sex as "caught in the net", until the "A-Team" goes on another mission, where he sees another net trap in a jungle and realizes there was no double meaning after all.
  • In the Torchwood episode "From Out Of The Rain",:

 Jack:I need [Ianto's] local expertise.

Gwen: Oh, is that what you're calling it now?

  • And while we're talking about Captain Jack, there's a running gag regarding the use of the word "dancing" in the Doctor Who ep, "The Doctor Dances".

 Doctor: Relax. He's a fifty-first century guy. He's just a bit more flexible when it comes to 'dancing'.

Rose: How flexible?

Doctor: Well, by his time, you lot are spread out across half the galaxy.

Rose: Meaning?

Doctor: So many species, so little time.

Rose: What, that's what we do when we get out there? That's our mission? We seek new life and.. and...

Doctor: [nodding] Dance.


 Olivia: Exactly how close were you two?

Lauren Cooper: He was like a father to me!

Olivia: Oh, is that what they're calling it now?


 Percy: I touched her once.

Blackadder: You touched her what?

Percy: Her, once, in the corridor.

Blackadder: I've never heard it called that before.


 Jack: When I was your age, I was putting myself through college in Boston, paddling swan boats for the tourists.

Kenneth: Is that a euphemism for some kind of sex worker?

  • Arrested Development, when George Michael had been hiding his grandfather in the attic, but Michael suspected he was hiding a girlfriend:

 George Michael I have Pop-Pop in the attic.

Michael Just the fact that you call it that is proof that you're not ready.

  • In an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will and Carlton went to a clinic to pick up some reference material for Ashley, who was slamming headfirst into puberty at the time. As the doctor goes to help them, Will and Carlton try to "cover" by loudly announcing that they were looking for material for a book report and checking the building for asbestos, respectively. The doctor later turns to Carlton and says: "Asbestos? Last time I heard, it was called Knockin' Boots!"
    • Not to mention Will's assurance to Carlton that he "won't always be a...German."
  • Firefly had one of these in the first episode:

 Simon: I need to check her vitals!

Mal: Oh, is that what you call it?

    • Admittedly, Simon's sister was naked at the time. Mal can be forgiven for assuming the worst.
  • In the Bones funeral episode:

  Widow: And exactly how many times a week did you respect him?

  • When Richie claims in Bottom that 'my grandfather was a trawlerman you know?' Eddie's reply is 'Oh so that's what they called them in those days was it?'.
  • A kind of... double inversion (as he's both younger than her, and the one trying to be euphemistic) on Friends:

 Young Ethan: I should probably tell you, I'm not a... uh, that is to say I don't... I've never...

Monica: Are you a virgin?

Young Ethan: Well, if that's what you kids are calling it these days, then yes I am!

    • In the episode "The One with All the Resolutions", when Monica and Chandler have a secret relationship:

 Monica: I'll just tell Rachel I'm gonna be doing laundry for a couple of hours.

Chandler: Laundry. Huh. Is that my new nickname?

  • A non-sexual example from Angel:

 Angel: I'm not here to sing.

Lorne: Oh, is that what we're calling it now?

  • One memorable non-sexual example from CSI is an exchange between Sara and Marjorie Wescott, a defense lawyer, after Sara is asked about a previous case where she had been seen touching him in a 'romantic gesture':

 Sara: I brushed chalk from his face.

Marjorie: Oh, is that what they're calling it now?

    • Let it be known that, in the aformentioned episode, there was no chalk on his face. Really.
  • Excretion instead of sex: on NCIS, Gibbs encouraged Kate to "stay hydrated", specifically to use her as a distraction when she went to the head.

 Gibbs: Go, unhydrate.

Kate: Never heard it called that.

    • Inverted in another episode, when Ziva doesn't understand what a suspect means when he says someone 'couldn't keep it in his pants.' Tony's explanation involves a tune and some suggestive gesturing. Ziva comes to the conclusion that they're talking about dancing.
  • Interesting example in the Smallville Season 4 episode "Spell," when Jonathan finds a stray bra under the hay in the loft, and Clark blurts out that "it was magic," followed by a sarcastic "I'm sure it was" from Martha. While Lana, Chloe and Lois (under the control of three ancient French witches...and yes, it makes slightly more sense in context) did use sorcery to brainwash the guests at Chloe's birthday party, it was an underwear party, and there was at least one other couple Clark bumped into the next morning who had to bolt with clothes in hand. So the example is both played straight (it really was magic) and subverted (but there was probably lots of sex too, just not directly involving Clark).
  • In The Young Ones, Vivian lets out a highly articulate outburst with his raging hatred for The Good Life. Neil's father stands up for it, specifically star Felicity Kendall, adding "...and I want to protect her!" Vivian snorts "Well, it's the first time I've ever heard it called THAT!"
  • Not quite exact to the trope definition, but series 2 of Robin Hood does include a conversation among the outlaws about euphemisms for couples hooking up.

 Robin: Where's Will and Djaq?

Much: They said they were going to get some honey.

John: They'll be back soon.

Much: If that's what they've gone for. But why does it need two of them, hm? Honey is one of those things.

  • Inversion from The Kids In The Hall

 Woman: I can't believe I fell for that line.

Darril: What line?

Woman: You know! "Would you like to look at my etchings?"

Darril: (Gestures towards wall of etchings) So you don't want to see them?

  • Myth Busters: Used jokingly by Adam in the very first (non-pilot) episode, while making a bullet out of flash-frozen hamburger.

 Jamie: "What did you do today, honey?"

Adam: I made a meat bullet. "Is that what the kids are calling it these days?"


 Dr. Kelso: Last week I was in the mall hanging out at Brookstones when some kid asked me if I was lost.

J.D.: Brookstone. Looking for gadgets, sir?

Dr. Kelso: If that's what you call trolling for mall ass, sure.

    • And played straight in this exchange:

 Paul: ...and, I know you wanted me to come in to... you know...

Elliot: Oh, no no no! I invited you in to see my... fish tank.

The Todd: Is that what you ladies are calling it nowadays?

Paul: Careful, Todd.


 Some Guy: Alright, let's take her in for an Autopsy.

Joel: Oh, is that what they're calling it now..


 Hardison: Li'l Jennifer Pearson's wearing you out, ain't she?

Elliot: Dude, we walked the Freedom Trail twice.

Hardison: Nice!

Elliot: No, man, the actual Freedom Trail. We took paddle boats to the public gardens, shopped on Newbury Street, and went to something called the Boston Duck Tour.

  • In The George Lopez Show, Carmen tells George that she did "half pipes" with her boyfriend. George assumes she is talking about drugs. She was talking about skateboarding.
  • On one episode of The Love Boat, Gopher and a woman are in a cabin, chasing after a spider and trying to squash it with their shoes. When Doc opens the door to see what all the ruckus is about, Gopher innocently comments, "We're killing spiders." As Doc leaves, he mutters, "I've heard it called a lot of things, but never that."
  • Top Gear had this gem.

 Jeremy: Guys, problem! I've shoved my anarchy flag through my water lilo!

Hammond: Nobody's ever said that before!

  • The line is used in Family Matters when Karl's wife and sister-in-law catch him with a woman at a Love Hotel, and he claims they're working. He's telling the truth: the woman is a fellow police officer, and they're meeting some crooks at that hotel room as part of a sting operation.
  • A variant is used in an episode of Eureka: Trevor tells Jack that he just went out on a date with Allison. Jack tells Trevor that he's merely "a distraction".. Trevor asks if that's what the kids are calling boyfriends these days.
  • The Listener (right after Toby has been teasing Oz about how all he thinks about is his new girlfriend):

 Oz: Look, if I do Ryder a favor or two, he could help me switch some shifts and I can sync up with Sandy's schedule.

Toby: Is that what it's called nowadays?

  • On Love Connection Brad Kamanski and Beate Gold describe their spending the night on Brad's father's boat:

 Chuck Woolery Where'd you sleep the second night?

Brad On the boat.

Chuck Oh? Get much sleep the second night?

Beate Ahem, no.

Brad No, not really.

Chuck Those waves going, keeping you up all night?

Beate It was nice.

Chuck Birds going over you?

Beate Oh yeah! Seagulls.

  • On The Borgias, Rodrigo gives his mistress Giulia a lesson in politics by comparing her calf to Naples, her knee to Rome, and her, er, "source of disquiet" as France. The scene ends with his mouth working its way up and his comment that he "intends to invade France". Yowza.
  • On Frasier, when Martin introduces his physical therapist Daphne to his sister-in-law Zora, this is her exact reaction.
  • Castle had one of these when Beckett and Castle had hickey-like marks left on their necks by injectors. The following exchange occured:

 Esposito Come on, what were you REALLY doing?

Beckett It's not a hickey, Esposito.

Castle I wish it was. It was left by the injectors.

Esposito Injectors? Is that what they're calling it now?

Ryan Hey guys. Are those hickeys?

Esposito Yes.

Beckett No.

Castle I wish.


Ryan Okay then.

  • On Hudson Street, Tony was excited about meeting his favourite footballer and getting him to autograph a ball. He said something along the lines of "I can't wait to get his John Hancock on my pigskin", causing one of his co-workers to remark "I hope that's not a euphemism".
  • On Dinosaurs, Charlene is dumped by her boyfriend, and this is Earl's reaction to the news.
  • Wild Boys:

 "We've just been milking the goats."

"I'll bet you have!"

  • Used, albeit not with the exact phrasing on The Goodies:

 American Officer: Well, I'll be hornswoggled!

Graeme: Your personal life is no concern of ours.



  • "Horizontal Bop" by Bob Seger


  • The Greaseman calls sexual intercourse "Hobble-de-ge" and oral sex "Gobble-de-ge".


  • During the Comedy Of Errors spectacular "Lend Me a Tenor":

 Tito: I know why you're here.

Maggie: You do, do you?

Tito: Yes-you want my autograph.

Maggie: Oh, is that what they call it in Italian?

  • In Lady in the Dark, Charley insinuates that "color plates" might be the new "etchings":

 Russell: Maggie--either Alison leaves the magazine or I do. This is the end--the absolute end.

Maggie: Now, Russell...

Russell: I meant it. She's just calmly loaned my color plates to a friend until Wednesday.

Charley: Say, that's kind of new... "I'd like you to come up to the apartment and see my color plates."

Russell: Oh, don't be so Goddamn bright, Johnson--you sicken me.


 Mrs. van Daan: In my day it was the boys who called on the girls. Not the girls on the boys.

Mrs. Frank: You know how young people like to feel that they have secrets. Peter’s room is the only place where they can talk.

Mrs. van Daan: Talk! That’s not what they called it when I was young.


 Edith: You're my soul mate, that's what you are.

Gould: "Soul mate," is that the nom du jour?


Video Games


 Nate: I don't fumble, I improvise.

Chloe: Oh, is that what you call it?




 Elan: Uh, Dad? Haley and I need to...go have sex.

Tarquin: Well, you'll miss the big fight, but you do what you need to do.

Haley: Come on, V. And bring the cat, just in case.

Tarquin: ...huh.

  • In this Questionable Content, a rather oversexed character interprets "Do you want to come back to my place, and, um, m-maybe I could show you some of MY fanfic?" as, well, you know.
    • Subverted in an earlier strip, when Marten first meets Hannelore. She invites him back to her place to play Scrabble.

 "Like, for-real Scrabble, or is that a euphemism for something else?"

"What? No! Scrabble! Sex is for no. Too many fluids and germs and sweat and ew. Totally yuck. Ew."


 Mrs. Wonderella: This is an excellent paint job, Rita!

Wonderita: Thanks! I started doing Warhammer miniatures back in junior high!

Mrs. Wonderella: I certainly hope that isn't some sort of sex act!


Web Original

  • A common argument for Harmony shippers amongst the Harry Potter fandom was that near the end of the third book, Harry and Hermione ride a Hippogriff together, supposedly symbolising true love. "Riding the Hippogriff together" later became a popular euphemism and meme.
  • In Spoony's Campaign, Angry Joe is trying to describe a plan (that involves showing the head of an enemy to a kingdom), but he keeps making Innocent Innuendo, for which the others rib him mercilessly ("Just because I'm taking a dude up to my room, and showing him my head, doesn't mean..."). When Joe tries to clarify that he's giving a severed head, Y Ruler of Time remarks "Is that what they're calling it now? That's gotta be some sort of new BDSM practice."
  • Stupid Comics: 'This one was imprisoned when she refused to let her prime minister "experiment" on her "subjects". I guess that's what the kids are calling it these days.'
  • Red Panda Adventures:

 John Doe: I'd better go. Dr. Anna has been pestering me for some scheduled maintenance.

Kit: Hmm, is that what they're calling it these days?


Western Animation

Real Life

  • Real world example: In the 1970s in the UK, a female journalist who had been in a bedroom with a former Ugandan cabinet minister during a dinner party claimed they had been "discussing Uganda". The satirical magazine Private Eye has used "discussing Uganda" or "Ugandan relations" as an Unusual Euphemism ever since.
    • It's not certain that it will last as a meme, but South Carolina governor Mark Sanford may have contributed an example. His initial explanation for his disappearance (to visit his mistress in Argentina) was that he had been "hiking the Appalachian Trail", and some commentators explicitly referenced the "discussing Uganda" incident as a comparison.
  • And then there's "lifting luggage".
  • Ventriloquist Jeff Dunham has used this in an act with his dummy, Walter.

 Jeff: If you choke a Smurf, what color does it turn?

Walter: * long pause* "Choke a Smurf"?

Jeff: Yeah.

Walter: Is that what they're calling it now? What happened to the chicken?