wicked; was Re: crazy/insane gradation

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Mar 11 18:11:54 UTC 2010

I had a friend from Topsfield/Boxford, MA, in 1983-85 who used the
phrase regularly. Although I was living near Boston for most of the
period from 1983-2005, I mostly hung out with expats from other parts of
the country, and did not hear the phrase again until teaching at a
community college in the mid-1990s. The phrase was then (1994-5) also
popular with friends from Weymouth, MA. By then the SNL episode had
already aired (Sandler was on the show 1990-95) and I specifically
discussed it with my friends in 1995 /in that context/. In 2005-7 it was
a part of regular speech pattern with 25-45 year olds in Wisconsin,
although many were grad students from other parts of the Midwest (e.g.,
Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota), so I can only ascribe it with
certainly to one 40 year old in Milwaukee and one 33 year old from
Minnesota--this was, of course, well after Adam Sandler. I am not old
enough to trace back further than that.

There was, however, a difference. The MA speakers in the 1980s and 90s
used "wicked" alone, as in "That's wicked!". The later use was
/entirely/ with another adjective, as in "He's wicked smart!", "That's
wicked awesome!" The MA people I know now (Melrose, Revere natives), in
their 40s and 50s, use both versions.

I know, I did not make that distinction when I mentioned these earlier,
and such recollections, as we all know, can be faulty. The dates are all
accurate, but the specific use may be more reconstruction than
recollection. Topsfield, Boxford are far-north suburbs of Boston;
Revere, Melrose are closer to the city, with significant ItalianAm
population; Weymouth is blue-collar south suburb, with many IrishAm
families moving from South Boston in the 1970s and 80s (there was a
significant exodus from Southie both north and south, specifically,
Milton, Braintree to the south, and Somerville, then Winchester to the
north--I am sure this was just a part of the pattern, but these I have
first hand from people who made the move along with parts of their whole


On 3/11/2010 11:58 AM, Barbara Need wrote:
> It was certainly used north of Boston as early as 1969! I moved to
> Andover in that year and _wicked_ was one of the localism I noted.
> Barbara
> Barbara Need
> Chicago

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