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Seven memorable one-word movie lines

There are some movies that can be instantly identified by just one striking word from their scripts. “Eugoogolizer” (from “Zoolander” in 2001) and “precious” (from “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy) come to mind.

But there’s a whole other group that can be just as quickly identified by a single one-word line of film dialogue. Now that makes them really memorable!

Here are seven to get you started. What other one-word movie lines are so unique that you can immediately identify the film? Tell me in the comments section below.

7. “Yo!” From “Rocky.” (1976) Or from one of the five “Rocky” sequels. Come to think of it, maybe the line isn’t so distinctive after all.

6. “Bueller.” From “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” (1986) Ben Stein’s monotone classroom delivery (at about the 2:25 mark of the film clip) leaves little doubt about the need for some time off.

5. “Schwing!”  From “Wayne’s World.” (1992) One of the great movies of the ‘90s — not! Wayne and Garth, however, were responsible for some of the most overused phrases of the decade, including “Schwing!” and “Not!” and the nearly existential exchange: “No way.” “Way!”

4. “Ditto.” From “Ghost.” (1990) Patrick Swayze’s recent death makes this one-liner top of mind. Entertainment writer Dave Andrews sums up the power of the quote (at about the 3:15 mark in the film clip) nicely here (No. 2 on his list).

3. “Fiddle-dee-dee.”  From “Gone With the Wind.” (1939) The Civil War plays second-fiddle-dee-dee to Scarlett O’Hara’s complicated love life. And that, of course, is George (TV’s Superman) Reeves on the right in this scene.

2. “Rosebud.” From “Citizen Kane.” (1941) This YouTube clip bills this as “the most famous single word in movie history.” That may be, but I can’t mention “Rosebud” without highlighting the magnificent 1962 “Rosebud” episode of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” in which Rob Petrie has the tough job of explaining how his son, Richie, wound up with that distinctive middle name.

*Spoiler alert: If you don’t know the answer and don’t want the surprise wrecked until you get a chance to watch the episode here, don’t read the last paragraph of this post.

1. “Plastics.” From “The Graduate.” (1967) Dustin Hoffman gets a 20-second crash course on career development – leading to his character Benjamin’s classic reply: “Exactly how do you mean?”

Spoiler: Richie Petrie ends up with the middle name Rosebud as a compromise acronym incorporating all the squabbling relatives’ suggested names: Robert, Oscar, Sam, Edward, Benjamin and Ulysses David.

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Comments (12)

  1. Submitted by Danny McConnell on 09/25/2009 - 10:10 am.

    “Freedom” – Braveheart

  2. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 09/25/2009 - 10:31 am.


    –Gene Wilder in “Young Frankenstien”

  3. Submitted by Marcie S on 09/25/2009 - 11:40 am.

    Inconceivable! – Princess Bride

  4. Submitted by Phyllis Stenerson on 09/25/2009 - 11:43 am.

    Fun! Nice to have a bit each day. Thanks, Don.

  5. Submitted by Steve Aschburner on 09/25/2009 - 11:53 am.


    — Marcel Marceau, speaking the only word in Mel Brooks’ “Silent Movie” (1976).

  6. Submitted by Amira Holden on 09/25/2009 - 12:15 pm.

    Inconceivable. — “Princess Bride”

  7. Submitted by Phillip Koski on 09/25/2009 - 01:25 pm.

    La-dee-dah. “Annie Hall”

  8. Submitted by John Reinan on 09/25/2009 - 02:20 pm.

    Wolverine! (Red Dawn)

    I know that line, even though I’ve never actually seen the movie.

  9. Submitted by Karl Pearson-Cater on 09/25/2009 - 04:44 pm.

    I will agree with 2 commenters above. My #1:

    Inconceivable! – Princess Bride

  10. Submitted by Don Effenberger on 09/25/2009 - 06:41 pm.

    Great additions, folks.

    If time allows, be sure to check out the Dick Van Dyke clip — it runs about 22 minutes, but it’s amazing how well a classy, classic sitcom can hold up today. Nice, too, to see a TV dad portrayed in a positive light sensitively talking to his son.

  11. Submitted by Steve Backoff on 09/28/2009 - 09:42 am.

    Stella! – A Streetcar Named Desire

  12. Submitted by Susan Albright on 09/29/2009 - 09:36 am.

    Toga! — “Animal House”

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