Definition of Wicked - Word of the Month
Some words in English have multiple meanings. Some words tend to go out of fashion. Some words do both of these.
With that in mind, allow us to introduce you to the Kaplan bloggers' word of the month: Wicked
We’ve had a bit of an argument in the office about this between English and American differences in the word and so have decided to give you both.
David from the UK says:
The UK definition of Wicked #1: Bad, evil, sinful
Wicked in its literal sense means evil. A wicked person is someone who has no morals or just generally does bad things in matters of clear-cut right and wrong. It is associated with words such as unholy, corrupt, sacrilegious and all of those very serious and stern descriptions.
The UK definition of Wicked #2: Mischievous or playful
As well as actual plain evil, wicked can also be applied in cases of lighter playfulness. It is possible for someone to have a “wicked sense of humour” for example, which would be someone who maybe makes jokes that are a bit close to being offensive.
A “wicked sense of humour” is the sort of thing you might credit an elderly and unexpectedly crafty aunt with.
The UK definition of Wicked #3: The name of a famous West-End musical
Wicked is the name of a famous musical about the witches in the Wizard of Oz.
The UK definition of Wicked #4: Awesome, cool or amazing
Wicked was a very popular word in the 90s. If something was wicked, it meant that it was amazing, or otherwise full of wonder. If for example you received an excellent Christmas present, you might exclaim “Wicked!”
Chris from the US says:
The US definition of Wicked #1: Bad, evil, sinful
Although we like to bicker over English with our British brethren, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the entire English-speaking world share a literary history. Wicked in its classic sense is mostly found in literature, as it’s a bit elevated for everyday use, so we Americans share this meaning with the Brits.
The US definition of Wicked #2: Mischievous or playful
Just like in the UK, as well as actual plain evil, wicked can be applied in cases of lighter playfulness, with a “wicked sense of humor,” although you have to be a bit older to use this expression these days.
The US definition of Wicked #3: The name of a famous Broadway musical
As David points out, Wicked is of course the name of a musical about the witches in the Wizard of Oz. He forgets, however, that Wicked was written in the US and debuted on Broadway three years before London’s West End. Going back to Definition #1, the name comes from the fact that in the original novel The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, the witches are evil and cruel.
The US definition of Wicked #4: Very, really, extremely
One of the most common uses of this word in the US (you were saying this word was only popular in the 90s, David?) is a way of emphasizing the magnitude of something. It’s a usage is popular in New England, particularly in the state of Massachusetts. Although widespread usage has not yet caught on in other states, the rest of the US enjoys poking fun at New England for the expression.
Something can be interesting, but if it’s really interesting, it’s “wicked interesting.”
Other popular uses include:
- Wicked cool
- Wicked awesome
- Wicked tired
- Wicked hungry
- Wicked Local - the name of a local news agency so dedicated to covering local news that they even took the local slang as their name
- If we blended this with David’s 90s “wicked” definition, or else a particularly evil witch, I suppose we could even have “wicked wicked.”
What do you think? Can we bring the word “wicked” back into worldwide popular usage? Let us know what you think and start using it in conversation!