Living Language

A friend recently wrote that the day was “dank.” The kind of day she liked, good for thinking. But what is the definition of dank?

Webster’s Dictionary:

dank

Adjective, | dæŋk

Definition of DANK

:unpleasantly cool and humid

a dank cellar

dank rain forests

 

Urban Dictionary:

dank

an expression frequently used by stoners and hippies for something of high quality.

That borritos was dank, man.
or… That borritos was the dankness

 

As with so many words, usage changes meaning.

  • “Gay” used to mean happy. I have a cousin named Gay. Imagine how calling out to her now would sound to others.
  • “Fag” was a cigarette.
  • “Friend” and “pirate” were nouns.
  • “Tweet” was a sound birds made.
  • “Cloud” was condensed vapor up in the sky.
  • “I hear ya” used to mean I heard you, now it’s an expression of empathy

And new words constantly add themselves to our language: twerk, memes … and eventually many of them are listed in official dictionaries.

Perhaps, though, it is hyperbole that is the most disconcerting. We so often hear, especially from sports announcers it seems, “He gave 110% in that game.” No, he didn’t. What you saw was his 100%. To give more would not be humanly possible.

Our language will continue to grow and transform. Meanwhile communicating without insulting someone or saying something ridiculous can be like crossing a minefield. So tread carefully.

 

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