February 13, 2006
Cool is Still Hot
The slang use of the word “cool”, I feel, has been with us so long that we hardly think of it as slang. Children hear their parents, their teachers; even their grandparents say “cool” as an all-purpose term of approbation. Unlike “awesome,” “tubular,” or “gnarly". "Cool” isn’t limited to one generation or one geographic region—or even to North America. Britain, Australia, and South Africa are all conversant with the meaning of “cool.”
First popularized in jazz clubs in the late 1940s, cool came to represent “attitude without anger” in the 1960s. Unlike other words popular among hippies, however, it wasn’t a new invention or a symbol of the generation gap, so it didn’t fade out along with “groovy” and “hey man.”
I expect that “Cool” is likely to endure through several more decades, but that doesn’t mean that each new generation won’t find its own words. Teenagers need to have a language that shuts out their parents. I know that from personal experience, when they grow up, they go back to saying “cool", and they accept much of the advice we as parents offered our childeren during their teen years.
If you're interested in learning more about the history of the word cool, check out Wikipedia's entry for cool. You can even add to it.
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