There are tons of negative words that are used as positive slang. We’re looking at a few of the more popular ones in this episode. Andrew and Maura give you their take on sick, mean, and wicked. If you look these words up in the dictionary, you might not find these definitions, but if you’re travelling around Canada or the U.S., you might just hear them being used.
Expressions included in the learning materials:
- Time flies (by)
- A prime example
- Sick – a sick guitar player – can be used on its own
- To be meaning
- Break dancing
- To be mean – must be used with the object that is being described as mean
- A lift
- Where ya going?
- Fresh powder
- No doubt To be sold
Maura: That’s right. OK. Let’s get to today’s episode. This time, we’re going to do a Catch Word episode.
Andrew: Mmhmm. And in a Catch Words episode we take a look at three related expressions and tell you how you can use them and what they mean.
Maura: That’s right. So today we’re going to look at words that have negative meanings. So if you look them up in the dictionary, they’re negative, but they can be used in a slang way to mean something that is positive. Something that is great or cool or amazing.
Andrew: Exactly. So these are words that have a negative meaning, but the way that we can use them, English is funny, we can make them into positive expressions as well.
Maura: And the thing about these kinds of words is that they’re always changing. Every few years there’s like a new one of these words that emerges and some of the other words we don’t use anymore and depending where you’re speaking English, different kinds of words are more popular.
Andrew: Mmhmm. That’s the funny thing about slang is it’s always changing with each new generation.
Maura: Yeah. When I was thinking about this episode, when I was preparing it, I thought about Michael Jackson. And you know in the 80s, he had that song “Bad”. And that’s really a prime example of this kind of slang.
Andrew: Exactly. Because “Bad” didn’t really mean bad. It meant good in the context of that song.
Maura: Yeah. Right. So he was singing about being bad, but he didn’t mean that he was negative or something was really bad. He meant that it was cool and awesome and, yeah, kind of maybe exciting.
Andrew: That’s right. So we’re gonna talk about expressions that work just the same way.
Maura: Right. But are more popular today and less popular in the 80s.
Andrew: That’s right. They are up-to-date.
Maura: So the first expression we’re going to look at today is sick.
Andrew: Right, that’s sick.
Maura: Mmhmm. Sick. Which means not healthy or ill.
Andrew: Yeah. If you look this word up in the dictionary, it’s going to say that. It’s gonna say not healthy, ill, feeling bad. But when I say something is sick, and I’m talking casually with my friends, I’m usually meaning that it’s pretty cool.
Maura: Right. So you can say that something is sick, and it means that it’s great, it’s exciting, maybe it’s a little bit crazy – all kind of positive things. It doesn’t mean that thing is not healthy.
Andrew: Exactly. Yup.
Maura: And this is a relatively new slang term. Sick, over the years, somehow, someway, became used in a positive way, and we actually don’t know where this originated. Some people claim that it came from London and started maybe even in the 80s. And another source said that it might have started in a country like Trinidad and Tobago. So we don’t really know where this term comes from, but it’s definitely used and understood today to mean that something is cool.
Podcast/Learning Materials: Culips English Podcast