Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Wed Dec 6 13:33:51 UTC 2000

>What intrigues me is whether the new "cool" meaning of "pimp" is from
>"pimp" as is generally understood or is it some dialectal or regional
>word meaning something closer to the slang "cool." If so, how did this
>meliorative semantic change come about? It doesn't look like a smooth
>transition, as in the case of slang "cool" from the temperature sense.

I refer to the Cassell slang dictionary.

"Pimp" (adj.) = "stylish, expensive" is given as "US Black", apparently
since the 1940's.

Apparently the pimp is traditionally considered to be a conspicuous
consumer, with plenty of tax-free cash, in a business which calls for a
stylish image or something like that.

I'm personally familiar with "pimp" (figurative noun) = something like
"stylish macho man", used by young black and white men in the 1960's.

More recently apparently the word has become campus slang; also "pimp" (v.)
= "to dress up", "pimping" = "pimpish" = "well-dressed", etc. There is also
"pimp" (v.) used as something like "profile"/"show off", in my experience.

[Compare one suggested origin of the English word "pimp" (17th century),
from French "pimpant", approximately = "smartly-dressed".]

So I think it's "pimp" = "stylishly-appointed man" > "pimp(ish) clothes (or
car, etc.)" = "stylish/expensive clothes (or car, etc.)" > "pimp" =

-- Doug Wilson

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