The History Behind the Most Popular Weed Slang Phrases

Where Did The Most Popular Cannabis Lingo Come From?

Since you were a teen, you’ve probably used plenty of cannabis lingo. Some terms might make you cringe – “blaze it,” anyone? – and some have worked their way into your lexicon permanently.

You may be curious as to how some of these terms came to be. Who invented 420? Where did the word “kush” come from? If you’re curious about terms like these, you’re in luck. We’ve traced the origins of some of the most popular cannabis slang in the English language.


You might be under the impression that this term comes from the round object you fill with soil to encourage a plant’s growth. That’s not the case at all. In fact, the term “pot” actually comes from a mixed drink from Mexico called potación de guaya. This drink combines buds with wine or brandy, and became popular during prohibition. The drink’s name was shortened to “pot” to create this popular term.



They say, “it’s always 4:20 somewhere.” But who are “they”?

There are a few places of origin you can point to for this stoner symbol. One urban legend says that classic psych-rock band The Grateful Dead preferred to stay in rooms that were numbered ‘420’ when touring. Others point to high school students in San Rafael, California – in the 1970s, these students would meet at 4:20 p.m. to smoke weed behind a statue. Thus, 4:20 became a codename for smoking weed, and now, it’s one of the most popular terms in cannabis culture.


Cannabis is hardly similar to the weeds that grow in your yard, so how did this term catch on? Initially, it was used as a negative term, comparing cannabis to the irritating pests found in yards. However, smokers began embracing the term, and clearly, it caught on.



This term comes from the Latin word dubiety, which means “giving rise to uncertainty: questionable or suspect as to true nature or quality.” That doesn’t sound far off from what you might experience while you’re high. This term sounds totally silly, but it successfully indicates the mind-altering effects of cannabis.


This term is an oldie but a goodie: most associate it with Jamaica, but it actually comes from somewhere else. Ganja comes from a Sanskrit word that means “powerful preparation from cannabis sativa.” Sanskrit is a South-Asian language spoken by at least 14,000 people today.


Where does “kush” come from? It’s actually a nod to the Hindu Kush region that falls along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. This 500-mile-long mountain region is cherished by growers all over the world.