Jerry Seinfeld turns 60 Thursday (April 29), and as the co-creator and star of the most successful sitcom of the past two-plus decades, he probably has everything he wants. So no gifts necessary.
Instead, let’s focus on what Seinfeld — or more acccurately, “Seinfeld” — has given us. The show, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary in July 2014, has long since cemented its legacy in the pantheon of great sitcoms — and has also invaded the English language like no show since. The list of catchphrases, putdowns and one-liners Seinfeld , co-creator Larry David and the show’s writers propagated is very, very long, and thanks to constant syndication plays over the years, many of them have become part of our everyday discourse.
Here are a few that really stuck — including one that the show incorrectly gets credit for inventing.
‘Master of your domain’
“The Contest” is widely acknowledged to be among the top handful of “Seinfeld” episodes ever, and a lot of what made it so great were the euphemisms the cast used to express how they were denying themselves. The bet between Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer is to see who can go the longest without masturbating, but the word “masturbation” is never spoken — not because of network censorship but because Seinfeld and David thought it would be funnier that way. “Master of your domain” is the phrase that has stuck; others include “lord of the manor,” “king of the county” and “queen of the castle.”
____ Nazi/’No soup for you!’
Season 7’s “The Soup Nazi” centered on the autocratic owner of a soup restaurant who bellowed “No soup for you!” every time a customer strayed from his strict set of rules for ordering. That phrase lives on as a way of arbitrarily rejecting something, but “[Insert adjective here] Nazi” may be even more durable. It’s common now to see people described as a “grammar Nazi” or “leash Nazi.” Before this episode? Not so much.
Also from “The Soup Nazi.” It’s the pet name a suddenly affectionate Jerry and his girlfriend (Alexandra Wentworth) have for each other, to the great annoyance of George and Elaine. Over time, the term (which has morphed into “schmoopy” in a lot of places) has become an adjective describing just about any openly romantic or affectionate gesture or person.
When you take a gift you received and turn around and give it to someone else. This serious breach of etiquette didn’t have a proper name until the Season 6 episode “The Label Maker,” when it was committed by Dr. Tim Whatley (Bryan Cranston).
‘Not that there’s anything wrong with that’
In “The Outing” from Season 4, George and Jerry repeat the line several times after a reporter (Paula Marshall) mistakenly outs them by way of saying that while they’re not gay, they’re not opposed to it. It’s since become a jokey catchall for things you don’t participate in but don’t care if others do.
And finally, one catchphrase that “Seinfeld” didn’t invent:
‘Yada yada yada’
After Season 8’s “The Yada Yada,” a large segment of people seemed to think the show invented the phrase, a sort of verbal ellipses. But its origin dates back well before the episode, to at least the 1940s.
This list obviously leaves out a ton of great “Seinfeld”-isms. Here are a bunch more: