The word “cool” has survived a lot of tough competition and is said to have originated from jazz in the 40s. The fascinating thing about the expression is that it does not have one meaning. It can be applied to pretty much anything ranging from how you feel, to describing something.
Cool can be used to describe how a person remains calm, stoic and resilient under pressure. When applied to popular culture, it means that something is trendy, en vogue and has been incubated by early adopters. If used to describe an object or person, it means it has strong aesthetic appeal and is attractive and remarkable.
Language has always fascinated me so I thought I would bring you Origin of Cool’s glossary of cool as a way to see what words have come and gone and to act as a thesaurus of words that are closely related to the word cool. Enjoy!
A-1 - the best e.g. “This sandwich is A-1!”
Ace - great e.g. “The gig was ace” (occasionally in my childhood in England I would hear “that was dead ace!”)
Bitchin’ - very good, excellent e.g. “That was a bitchin’ set of waves” (used by Californian surfers in the ’80s)
Bodacious - combining the words “bold” and “audacious” e.g. “She is one bodacious babe”.
Boss – slang expression for excellent e.g. “This party was pretty boss” (heard frequently in Liverpool, England)
Cat’s Pajamas - the hottest new thing e.g. “His suit was the cat’s pajamas” (stemming from 1920s America, young women would combine an animal with a a part of the human body or item of clothing. Another example is “bees knees”).
Champion - best, excellent e.g. “That were a champion performance” (used especially by people in Yorkshire, England)
Dandy – fine e.g. “Fine and dandy”
Far Out – unbelievable, amazing e.g. “That movie was far out” (often used by hippies)
Gnarly – extreme, very good, excellent e.g. “That skateboarding trick was so gnarly!” (heard frequently in 1970s surf speak and in skate parks in 1990s America).
Hip – cooler than cool e.g. “This party is going to be hip” (often linked to hipsters who are purveyors of trends and cutting edge fashion).
Hunky-dory – satisfactory/agreeable e.g. “It’s all hunky-dory” (possible origins of the expression are the Netherlands – the Dutch brought the word “honk” meaning goal or home to New York. American sailors combined the word “hunk” meaning fine with the Japanese expression for road “dori” to create “hunky dory” – a Japanese street of pleasure.
Neat – held in great respect e.g. “That was a nifty move”
Rad – abbreviation of the word “radical” e.g. “That was totally rad” (made popular by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 1990).
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