Wednesday, March 24, 2010

You Keep Using This Word...

Why is it that every generation (or so) takes a word that, by definition, indicates something “not good” and uses it to mean not just “good” but “very good/cool” instead?

When I’d been a kid, you heard, “Wicked!”
(Often coupled with “awesome.”)

Since then, we’ve had “bad” “ill” “messed up” and “sick”
(and probably some I’m not thinking of right now.)

It’s rather strange.


Anon said...

It happens--how the heck did "temper" come to mean its exact opposite, for example? "Temper" means a calm disposition, and the verb form can be found in the phrase "temper justice with mercy." That's why to get angry is to LOSE your temper.

So how the heck did having a "temper" come to mean being predisposed to getting angry easily?

Jason A. Quest said...

"Bad" was good long before "wicked" was good.

Anon: The noun "temper" comes from "temperature", thus: a "hot temper" is more more hostile than a "cool temper".

Anon said...

Ah, I didn't know that--thanks!

But I've still primarily heard phrases like "don't lose your temper" and "keep your temper," which leads me to think of it in "cool" terms.

Speaking of "cool," your explanation seems to me to be related to the reason for the slang definition of the word "cool."