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Quality_Guaranteed
Jan 23, 2006

by Y Kant Ozma Post


Obviously i don't mean "cool" as in "mildly cold", but rather "cool" as in "That was a cool movie". Same thing with "awesome".

Are these usages of these words something that Gen-Xers came up with? Or did it originate in the counter-culture movements of the 60s? I know in the movie Grease, when the high school coach proposes to John Travolta's character that he try out for track, Travolta says "Could be cool..." I know Grease was made in the 70s but it takes place in the 50s. But I have this image in my mind of people in the 50s saying "swell" or "peachy keen", not "cool". I guess that's just a stereotype, though.

So I'm asking older goons and/or philologist goons if they know when people started these words like we do today. Same with "dude". I know "dude" was probably used a lot in the old West, but it seems like nobody used it again until the 1980s, and then in a completely different way. It's like we went 80+ years between "look at this dude who can't ride a horse" to "party on, dudes!", with absolutely nothing in between.

Hope someone can shed some light on this.

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Doddery Meerkat
Aug 6, 2006

by Y Kant Ozma Post


Quality_Guaranteed posted:

Obviously i don't mean "cool" as in "mildly cold", but rather "cool" as in "That was a cool movie". Same thing with "awesome".

Are these usages of these words something that Gen-Xers came up with? Or did it originate in the counter-culture movements of the 60s? I know in the movie Grease, when the high school coach proposes to John Travolta's character that he try out for track, Travolta says "Could be cool..." I know Grease was made in the 70s but it takes place in the 50s. But I have this image in my mind of people in the 50s saying "swell" or "peachy keen", not "cool". I guess that's just a stereotype, though.

So I'm asking older goons and/or philologist goons if they know when people started these words like we do today. Same with "dude". I know "dude" was probably used a lot in the old West, but it seems like nobody used it again until the 1980s, and then in a completely different way. It's like we went 80+ years between "look at this dude who can't ride a horse" to "party on, dudes!", with absolutely nothing in between.

Hope someone can shed some light on this.

http://www.grateful-dudes.net/dude_meaning.htm

also

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=cool

You can google this pretty easily, just word + etymology, though the second link has a search engine that will do it for you.

e: both seem to imply dude was reclaimed by CA surfers in the 70's

Doddery Meerkat fucked around with this message at Mar 11, 2010 around 19:26

Beaters
Jun 27, 2004

SOWING SEEDS
OF MISERY SINCE 1937
FRYING LIKE A FRITO
IN THE SKILLET
OF HADES
SINCE 1975


Quality_Guaranteed posted:

Obviously i don't mean "cool" as in "mildly cold", but rather "cool" as in "That was a cool movie". Same thing with "awesome".

Are these usages of these words something that Gen-Xers came up with? Or did it originate in the counter-culture movements of the 60s? I know in the movie Grease, when the high school coach proposes to John Travolta's character that he try out for track, Travolta says "Could be cool..." I know Grease was made in the 70s but it takes place in the 50s. But I have this image in my mind of people in the 50s saying "swell" or "peachy keen", not "cool". I guess that's just a stereotype, though.

So I'm asking older goons and/or philologist goons if they know when people started these words like we do today. Same with "dude". I know "dude" was probably used a lot in the old West, but it seems like nobody used it again until the 1980s, and then in a completely different way. It's like we went 80+ years between "look at this dude who can't ride a horse" to "party on, dudes!", with absolutely nothing in between.

Hope someone can shed some light on this.

As an official SA old fart, I can verify from my own experience that the word "cool" was in common use among young white people by the early 60s. "Cool" was popular among the beatnik / jazz set before then, too, but in the early 60s it went very mainstream.

I don't recall anyone using "swell" or "peachy keen" except on television where almost everything was bowdlerized. I can recall "dude" being used in the late 60s among young white people in much the same way as it is used today. A lot of slang seemed to come out of the black culture, prison culture, the psychedelic / hippie / bohemian culture, and then later the computer culture.

Socket Ryanist
Aug 30, 2004



"cool" had a specific meaning of "someone who is able to remain calm and use their head in stressful situations", which then got generalized to mean "a generally likeable person"

Number_6
Jul 23, 2006

BAN ALL GAS GUZZLERS

(except for mine)


I can recall "awesome" being used a lot in the '80s, often but not always as part of the phrase "wicked awesome".

Can't say if it was used earlier than that.

Schweinhund
Oct 23, 2004



I remember "awesome" entering the lexicon with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I'm probably misremembering that.

Schweinhund fucked around with this message at Mar 12, 2010 around 16:44

Starblind
Apr 4, 2007

Encomium in colour

The current meaning of "cool" evolved from "cool jazz", meaning jazz music with slower, more relaxed tempo as opposed to hot jazz, which had a quicker tempo and was primarily for dancing to (I'm simplifying a lot here, but you get the idea). Miles Davis' "The Birth of the Cool" album came out in the early 1950s, for example. Cool then came to mean relaxed, laid-back and somewhat detached, and filtered through to its current meaning during the beatnik years. Although early on it was part of the beatnik stereotype (one might imagine a fellow in shades and a beret sitting in a coffee shop with bongos and saying "Cool, daddy-o!") there was actually somewhat of a backlash against the word by beatniks, to the point that Jack Kerouac himself bashed the word as well as the emotional detachment it had come to represent in his late-50s book Desolation Angels.

morrisirrom
Jul 26, 2007


Schweinhund posted:

I remember "awesome" entering the lexicon with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I'm probably misremembering that.

You must be pretty young. The earliest instance of awesome I remember was said by Spicolli in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High"

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Tuxedo Catfish
Mar 17, 2007

You've got guts! Come to my village, I'll buy you lunch.


"Awesome" is actually really old, and aside from the slightly more positive connotation means roughly the same thing it always did.

What's more interesting is that "awful" used to be synonymous with it.

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