New generations need new words for 'cool.' Is awesome cool, and cool oldschool?
"What are the real generation-defining phrases of today's 18-year-olds, in the same way that "cat's pajamas" or "solid" are tied to an era?," asks team lowkey on ask.metafilter.com. His aim is to help along a friend who is going to teach undergrads and "just wants to know what they mean." This brief summary of the comments reflects both 'the aging hipsters,' (you know, 'the adults') and the confident forget-it-use-this slang leaders.
"Who decides what's cool? Certain kids in certain places--and only the coolhunters know who they are," said New Yorker, almost a decade ago. While in 1948, it siad: "the bebop people have a language of their own. ... Their expressions of approval include 'cool.' " What's trendy is coming in a triangle shape: first, the innovator is copied by the trend setter, whose trend is made more digestible by the early adopter, passing it on to the mass consumer, according to Frontline.
Retro or tech
While retro slang comes back occasionally, there are new trends due to technology. Retro comments: "'Cat's pajamas' works for me. It's so old, it's new again," and "I think it's time that we started using the words that were popular in my northern English town in the early seventies. Those would be 'Ace' and 'Peach.'"
Tech-generated one is 'book': "I heard that in the UK, due to so-called predictive texting taking over the ability of kids to think & spell, 'cool' comes out as 'book'. So they now say - "that's really 'book', ma," says one commenter. Another potential trend may be coming from tagging: "Did anyone else laugh at the fact that metafilter tags recent comments on "fresh" on viewing the recent comments in this thread?" One user goes as far as to suggest 'ajax,' and '2.0' sarcastically, but it's hard to tell if they remain sarcastic once you air them on the web. New machines might have generated the slang 'shiney,' one of the probable winner over 'cool:' "I played with the new PDA and it was reaaaalll shiney." What's your guess for the etymology of 'da bomb?'
A somewhat related phenomenon to tech may be time-saving abbreviations, like 'k-max = kick ass to the maximum,' but it's not a thumb-rule to follow the urgencies of speedix: appending the suffix-like "-a$$" to all sorts of adjectives as an intensifier (crazy-ass, sweet-ass etc.), or modifying already emotionally loaded words with 'wicked' or 'hella' ("Your hair is wicked-awesome") make an item actually longer. Therefore, there is no proof that today's slang words would tend to become shorter over time as life becomes more hectic.
Interestingly enough, it might be easier to spread a new slang word via the internet. That is, there is more chance to bottom-up force a new slang word into the mainstream rather than let it struggle its way to the surface on its own, at a natural pace. One user says:" a few of my friends and I wanted to popularize 'indecent,' since 'cool' is the opposite of 'decent' in a certain sense. That never took off, obviously." Regardless of the irony/ sincerity of the remark, the potential is here to forge new slang words and quickly pass them on. Perhaps it does not make much sense to do so, unless it expresses some kind of common platform, as we have seen it with the history of 'failure' as a search word typed in the Google. The word 'failure' and the CV you get as a result has not proven ephemeral. If ephemaral is one feature of slang, and 'cool' has been so obstinate in everyday language, why is it still regarded as a slang? Shouldn't it be relabelled as a word that is 'familiar?' "Cool" remains the gold standard of slang in the 21st century, as reliable as a blue-chip stock, surviving like few expressions ever in our constantly evolving language, according to Larry Neumeister. In contrast, Peter N. Stearns, the author of the book "American Cool," says "I think this has gone beyond slang and into a word that is so useful and versatile that it is just one of the words we use."
Cool versus cool?
Is there one word/ phrase that is as universal as 'cool?' Definitely not, if we include the international spread of 'cool' from Brazil to China, i.e. non-English speaking countries. So what to say to sound cooler than cool? According to some commenters, 'awesome' is frequently used: (20, female, in college in California) "Awesome" is the word I hear (and use) most often," and a Home and Gardens channel fan says "I myself believe that 'awesome' is showing great staying power... extensive recent survey of interior design/real estate shows this" ("How do you like the paint?" "Awesome!" Lowkey concludes that "Sweet, awesome, nice, hot, and to a lesser degree sick, through the miraculous preservative powers of irony, have managed to maintain their coolness from 80's surf/skate culture."
Miscellaneous: some rough gems from the users:
I call things "killer." Probably not a good habit to pick up if you're a frequent flier.
(I'm 18) tight, dope, nice, sweet, coo(l) (the l is usually dropped)...I think its more a matter of attitude now. You can't sound too excited or too impressed.
my friends and I often refer to cool things as "Better than Tank Girl". Things that are really great are "Better than Curly Fries".
my friends and I (late teens to late 20s) use: "niiiiiiiiiiiiiiice," "sweet," ... "on the money", sometimes shortened to "money" & "pretty standard, really" said in a Dr. Evil voice.
And some are serious about how to say the what to say:
If you drop the "l" of "cool," you kind of have to do it like "'s coo'," and that seems kind of pseudo-tough-guy poser-ish.
"Sweet" has to be said with the same kind of emphasis "sick" did, and that's a little too embarrassingly over-the-top, I think.
Hott (with two t's) because, its really much hotter that way. Used in a slightly ironic manner.
"Another alternative is to be cool simply by being deliberately anti-cool and when others comment on it simply let them know that you are being so far ahead of them as far as coolness is concerned that they are frankly a raging fusion reactor...If all else fails make up an entirely new word and pretend it's what all the hep cats are getting down to."