Lynne Murphy M.L.Murphy at SUSSEX.AC.UK
Mon Feb 23 18:09:47 UTC 2004

It means, approximately, "that's the truth" or "that's real/genuine".

Then there's also "word up".  Clarence Major (from Juba to Jive) has that
as 'call for attention; used as an expression of one's word of honor".

And then there's "word to your mother", which is defined on
urbandictionary.com as:

1) I fully agree with you, you nicely brought up fellow
2) Say hellow to your sexy milf
3) I'm a white boy in need of a cool sounding motto.

The last is undoubtedly directed to Vanilla Ice, who had the phrase in his
song "Ice, Ice Baby" (or whatever the name of it was).  "Word Up" was the
title of a hit single by Cameo in 1988 (which has now infested my brain for
the rest of the evening.


--On Monday, February 23, 2004 9:53 am -0800 Jerome Foster
<funex79 at CHARTER.NET> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> ----------------------- Sender:       American Dialect Society
> Poster:       Jerome Foster <funex79 at CHARTER.NET>
> Subject:      "word"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> ------
> Dear linguists:
> As a superannuated English major I pride myself on keeping at least a =
> nodding acquaintance with current slang. However, there is one usage =
> that  really confuses me- the use of the word "word." I've seen it it in =
> the Beetle Bailey cartoon used by the African-American lieutenant so I =
> guess it's mostly a black usage. But it was used in Yesterday's =
> Doonesbury strip by a white character  and I've seen it used in an L.A. =
> Times aritcle on pop music. I've tried, unsuccessfully,   to understand =
> it from the context  of its use. I'd really appreciate it if one of you =
> could cllarify this for me.
> Thanks.
> Jerome Foster

Dr M Lynne Murphy
Lecturer in Linguistics

Department of Linguistics and English Language
Arts B133
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QN
>>From UK:  (01273) 678844
Outside UK: +44-1273-678844

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