floss and ghetto
Joe_Pickett at HMCO.COM
Thu Nov 2 14:32:49 UTC 2000
Smitherman's book tends to support Jesse's evidence that these are recent
Neither term appears in the 1994 copyright of Black Talk. Both are in the
Jesse Sheidlower <jester at PANIX.COM>@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on 11/02/2000
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Subject: Re: floss and ghetto
> Two queries. Someone asked about the meaning of ghetto, as in "that was
> ghetto." It must be fairly new; it's not in the HDAS. My son uses it
> isn't a great definer so wasn't really helpful. What's its earliest
I don't think this is slang; it's just something like 'characteristic of
or suitable for inner-city life'. A more common noun-to-adjective shift
is _street_ in a similar sense. An example from a rap magazine:
1997 _Source_ Oct. 146/3, I was so ghetto, threatening the crowd, talking
about if anybody takes it, I'ma see you.
> I recently attended an Afrocentric poetry reading in which two of
> the poets used the word "floss" in their poems. It seemed, from the
> context of both poems, to be a pejorative reference to an
> undesirable trait/behavior in African Americans. In one poem the
> subject was a woman, and the other, a male "type". I think they both
> used the term as a verb.
This seems to be a relatively recent addition to the lexicon, but
I've come across numerous examples in the last few months. Sample:
2000 W. Shaw _Westsiders: Stories of the Boys in the Hood_ 218
'Flossin'' is pretending to be something that you aren't. Archetypally,
hip-hoppers are accused of flossin' when they pretend to be affiliated
with gangs, when in fact very few are.
The earliest example I have right at hand is from 1995, but I don't
have any likely earlier sources.
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