Word for Saddam

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Nov 30 03:41:47 UTC 2002

At 9:15 PM -0500 11/29/02, Herbert Stahlke wrote:
>This is the first time I've seen that spelling for "heinous", meaning
>"shockingly evil or wicked".  I did a Google search on it and got about 170
>hits, most of which were misspellings of "highness" and a few of which were
>a surname.  Usually "heinous" is applied to acts, not people, as in "Rape is
>a heinous crime."  I too have been interested by applications of the word to
>Saddam rather than to his deeds.
Hasn't it been the case for some time that "heinous" has generalized
to a universal slang term of deprecation?  I just checked that
intuition with RHHDAS and found an entry for the word, listed as
"student" use and glossed as 'unpleasant, objectionable ,
unattractive, etc."  Some sample cites:

1982  U. of Tenn. student:  The party shouldn't be too heinous.
1984  Algeo Stud Buds:  A person who wears unusual clothing or haqs
an unusual hair style [is referred to as] HANOUS [sic].
1986  Eble  Campus Slang:  Heinous--anything bad, ugly, or negative.
Usually refers to female:  "That girl you were with was really

Other glosses include 'gross', 'disgusting', 'bogus', and
applications range from people, clothing, and behaviors to fast food.
I'm not sure what the person characterizing Saddam as "heinous" had
in mind, possibly beyond "bad".  The fact that spellings range from
"hanous" to "heiness" suggests that maybe the link to the original
more restrictive and formal adjective has been lost or severely


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