Katherine Barber’s neat little book, Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to Do With Pigs, gives some interesting news regarding the Clueless catchphrase “as if.” Barber claims that the expression is far from post-Moon Unit Zappa teenspeak. In fact, the first documented use of it as the kind of canned retort that Alicia Silverstone and company made popular is the 1903 Frank Norris novel The Pit. The exchange, as Barber re-creates it: “Maybe he’ll come up and speak to us.” “Oh, as if,” contradicted Laura.” Strangely, the phrase seems to have faded from phrase until 1981.
And here I thought that Clueless just ripped most of its lingo from Bio-Dome and Encino Man. Turns out it was turn-of-the-century novels.