5 May 2011


Jenny Matlock
more participants at Jenny Matlock's Alphabet Thursday

When I learned English at school, the word "cool" was the opposite of "warm". It was used to warn you to put on a cardigan or a warm pullover because outside it was cool. I also learned that you can use it for a person, for example you pittied a child because it had a cool mother but then it was meant that this mother was rather distant and didn't really show her feelings.
There also could be a cool atmosphere in a room, where people got together and behaved in a stiff way .

Over the years, suddenly the meaning of the word "cool" has changed. Now a cool person is a sympathic one who takes everything easy and doesn't make a drama of unimportant things. Being "cool" can been used to describe a general state of well-being, a transcendent, internal peace and serenity.

And this word moved into all other languages ! In Germany, Belgium and France you also say "he or she is cool" and when a today's mother is "cool" then all other children are jalous. You see a cool movie, have a cool teacher and you even can have a cool blog.

Even my polish cleaning lady uses the word "cool" amongst her polish speaches on the phone. That's the only word I understand btw.

What intrigues me now is to know since when "cool" changed it's meaning ? For all those whose mother tongue is English they should now. On the other hand I don't know when the English words "Babysitting", "Kidnapping", Weekend, etc. are suddenly part of other languages like German, French and Italian. I realized that the language had changed in all countries over the years, because when I go to Germany there are many new words I had never heard or used when I was in my 20th ! Never I would have said that my parents were "cool" in a positive way. My Grandma certainly was, what you call today "a cool person".

Different definitions of "cool"

(There is a whole page about "cool" in Wikipedia)


Kay L. Davies said...

Love the mice blocks!
My parents were cool. They raised two of us to adulthood, and one to high school, then had another baby. He says they were cool, too.
Dick and I think you're cool, by the way!
Languages are constantly in a process of evolving.
— K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

H said...

The mice blocks are brilliant! It's interesting isn't it how languages change. 'Wicked' used to mean something very naughty or even evil, while 'sick' only referred to illness. Now, my son uses "Sick!" as a term of approval.

jfb57 said...

What an interesting take on 'C'. We forget that language develops & changes - sometimes to our cost! ;)

diane b said...

It is interesting how languages are changing all the time.

Mara said...

I've always wondered about the word Gay, when did that change its meaning?

Cool post!

Sue said...

Well, I'll be 59 this year, and "cool" was already "cool" when I was a young girl. So it's been around in that connotation of "something really, really great" for a long time.


JDaniel4's Mom said...

Is it still cool to say cool?

Jackie said...

I think the new word is calm . I see it everywhere. Be calm or calm down, or stay calm

Loree said...

Have no clue when it changed but I remember using it way back in 1987 (that makes me feel old) to describe something fashionable or 'in'.

Teresa said...

Cool post! I just love that last cartoon with the mice blocks!

RedTedArt said...

I do wonder what words my kids will use that make no sense to me (I already find "Fat" very weird - which basically means "cool" too..) I am sure there will be more...

Great post!


Mari's World said...

Now that is a cool post ;) I remember using the word cool in a trendy way back in the 80's and I think it possibly came from the states probably via a movie adn caught on.
I like the fact that language is also in evolution, changing with the times.

Ames said...

Well I think you are a cool (neat) person Gattina. I like your "C" post too!~Ames

claudie said...

L'expression cool je ne l'entendais pas moi non plus dans mon enfance!
C vrai que le langage évolue et bien souvent si on s'assoit près de l'entrée d'un collège on comprend à peine les jeunes discuter entre eux!
J'en fais l'expérience comme je travaille à côté et c pas triste!

Judie said...

I agree with Mari! This is a cool post! My kids think I was a cool mom, but I have no idea why they thing that!

Our Village is a Little Different said...

Thanks for your cool post! I am learning all kinds of new meanings for words now that my boys are old enough to be "cool".

Jenny said...

What a creative take on the letter C!

It's interesting to see how words change and morph into new meanings. I can think of so many things we said as kids and in school that are totally and competely politically INCORRECT now!

Thanks for the thoughtful link. Loved your cartoons!