and from the annals of creative morphology...

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat May 4 20:16:44 UTC 2013

Garson's "fivehead" (forehead + 1) below reminded me that I was going to ask if anyone else has noticed an uptick in regularized "badder" in contexts like the following, a quote (NYT today, p. D2) from a Brooklyn Nets player before the game in which they evened the series 3-3 against the Chicago Bulls:

"In practice yesterday, we just asked each other who wanted it badder", Nets guard Joe Johnson said after Game 6. "We knew we had to execute, and we did."

My suspicion (hard to confirm by googling) is that this is more natural in cases of wanting/needing something badder (than the opposition or than anyone else) than in cases in which "bad" is straightforwardly negative ("I'm feeling bad/badly/worse/*badder").  I know "badder" shows up as comparative of the positive slang "bad", where "worse" seems less likely--

1. Esp. Black E.: 'very tough; pugnacious; formidable; hence, formidably skilled'
2. Esp. Black E.: 'wonderful, deeply satisfying; stunningly attractive or stylish; sexy'

--but I hadn't thought about the "X wants/needs Y bad" contexts, which aren't really negative either, and where I think both "worse" and "badder" seem natural.  Or not totally unnatural.


On May 4, 2013, at 3:56 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole wrote:

> Title: 14 Of Our Favorite Celebrity Fiveheads
> Date: March 26th, 2013
> Website:
> [Begin excerpt]
> What's a 'fivehead'? Well, you've heard of a forehead, right? So then
> a fivehead must be a little bit bigger (there are even a few sixheads
> out there, as we'll point out later).
> . . .
> We're not saying these people are unattractive because of their
> copious craniums, its just all in good fun...
> [End excerpt]
> Urban dictionary has several relevant entries: fourhead, 5head,
> five-head, five head and five-head
> I did not see these terms at Word Spy. The ADS archive does not seem
> to have the term
> I do not search for early instances due to indolence.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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