The Truth About The Origins Of '4/20'

Nothing can come from nothing. Everything in existence has a story. Each beam of sunlight that strikes your cherubic, lovable face traveled 93 million miles to get there, radiating from a sun that's been burning since before there was water in the ocean. Every meal that you eat comes courtesy of a biochemical series of events stretching back to the dawn of life itself; a spiraling cascade of causality echoing across the ages and ending, for the time being, in your mouth as you mumble to your buddy "this Impossible Burger's really not bad." Hundreds of years of selective breeding combined with generations of men and women dedicated to the art of genetically sculpting the carp into a different form gave you, eventually, that goldfish you forgot to feed when you were seven. The universe is a spinning mandala of cause and effect, and everything comes from everything else.

This fact remains true of words. Etymology is a fascinating world to explore, with everyday terms springing forth from unlikely sources, spanning the length of the history of spoken language. You would be amazed, just amazed, to find out about the improbable origins of colloquialisms, catch phrases, and turns of phrase.

Like did you know that "4/20" was invented by some teenagers who liked to get high?

Weeding out the misconceptions

The story, as relayed by the Chicago Tribune, goes as follows: It all started at San Rafael High School in the autumn of 1971 with a group of five friends, known as the Waldos thanks to their predilection for hanging out next to a wall. The name has stuck with the cadre to this day, proving once and for all that nicknames really aren't that hard.

One of the friends had apparently received a map to a secret crop of Satan's Arugula, given to him by "a friend whose brother was in the Coast Guard," according to the group's website. They decided to meet at, drumroll please, 4:20 pm to go out in search of Curly's Green.

While they didn't find the plants, they did find something even more precious: friendship. Specifically, friendship with other people who liked to get stoned to the bone. They made it a point to meet up regularly at 4:20 in order to partake. Soon, "4:20" became code for exactly the same thing it means today.

It's said that one of the Waldos had an older brother who was friends with the bassist for the Grateful Dead, and that word of mouth brought the phrase to celebrity ears. It continues to be used by teenagers who think they're getting away with something to this day.