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The history of the term ‘pink slip’


Have you ever been handed a “pink slip”? If you own a car, then the yes you have! The term “pink slip” has a colorful history – used to refer to the dreaded news that an employee has been laid off from work, or as a nickname of sorts for the ownership title or deed to your car.

You car title is an important and valuable document. In the case of car ownership, having a pink slip is a great thing! So, do you know why the term “pink slip” came to be used to refer to car titles (and not just as shorthand for bad news)?

Here’s a fun, pop culture fact: In the movie Grease, Kenickie and his rival raced for “pinks,” or the ownership of one another’s car. During the 1950s, the nickname was an accurate description. In California, where the movie was set, actual pink car titles were issued as the legal ownership document.

Not all car titles are pink, though. In other states, the papers may be green, blue, or a variety of other colors. Some are simply with a title seal printed on the paper. If you’re a car owner that’s never seen a pink slip, the term may sound odd.

But no matter what color paper your car title is printed on, most people will understand what you mean if you talk about the pink slip. The term has become popular, and still stands in as an easy reference for most official documents today. (Although we think having a car title pink slip is the best of the bunch!)