"word to mother" (1985)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Wed Dec 10 15:42:16 UTC 2008

On Sat, Sep 13, 2008 at 12:07 AM, Benjamin Zimmer
<bgzimmer at babel.ling.upenn.edu> wrote:
> On Sat, Sep 13, 2008 at 12:58 AM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > Does the OED include "Word Up!", documentable to 1986, when it
> > appeared as the title of a song written by Lawrence Ernest "Larry"
> > Blackmon and recorded by the group, Cameo?
> Yes indeed.
> ---
>  B. int.    slang (orig. U.S., in the language of rap and hip-hop).
> Also _word up_. Expressing affirmation, agreement, or admiration:
> 'That's the truth!' 'There's no denying it!' 'For sure!'
> 1981 J. SPICER et al. Money (Dollar Bill Y'all) (song) in L. A.
> Stanley Rap: the Lyrics (1992) 301 Word.., that's a good record, man.
> 1986 'CAMEO' (title of record) Word up! 1993 B. CROSS It's not about
> Salary 251 Tommy Boy signed it, and here's the House of Pain, word up.
> 2002 N. MCDONELL Twelve liii. 133 'Yo b, we gonna smoke some mad bowls
> tonight,' Timmy says to Mark Rothko. 'Word, word,' Mark Rothko agrees
> sagely.
> ---

Here's "word up" before the Cameo song:

1985 _New York_ 3 June 28/1 Alex said, "Yo Ross, word up, I'm going to
fiend a head."
["Fiend" is explained as 'choke', and "head" as 'victim (of a robbery)'.]

1985 _New York_ 3 June 40/2 "Just trying to stay out of trouble," Alex
said. "Word up."

>From the cover story "Hunting the Wolf Packs":

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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