[Ads-l] ratchet < wretched

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Wed Oct 26 13:15:58 EDT 2016

See our treatment of "ratchet" in the Summer 2013 installment of "Among the
New Words" (AmSp 88.2), covering a batch of WOTY 2012 nominees.


We mention the "wretch(ed)" etymological theory in the introduction. The
earliest citation we give is from 1999, from the Lava House song "Ratchet."
But as David Kendal pointed out to us, "ratchet" appears in an earlier
song, as cited in Green's Dictionary of Slang:

1992 [US] UGK ‘I’m So Bad’ [lyrics] Get your knees dirty, hoe, or either
get your ratchet ass out my fuckin do’.

On Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 1:03 PM, Benjamin Barrett <mail.barretts at gmail.com>

> Boosie Badazz released a song “Do tha Ratchet” in 2006 (
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boosie_Badazz_discography <
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boosie_Badazz_discography>, lyrics:
> http://bit.ly/2eMhDRe <http://bit.ly/2eMhDRe>).
> According to The Professor The (http://bit.ly/2f7NxuZ <
> http://bit.ly/2f7NxuZ>), the word is a ghettoized form of “wretched,”
> i.e., unhappy, very bad, poor in quality. This meaning of “ghettoize” is
> not in the online Oxford Dictionaries (http://bit.ly/2ebf2Pm <
> http://bit.ly/2ebf2Pm>).
> According to stupidniggerskerritpussclot81 (http://bit.ly/1iarDmu <
> http://bit.ly/1iarDmu>), a ratchet is a diva that has reason to think
> she’s hot but that is also wrong.
> JonPae (http://bit.ly/2ebgpxp <http://bit.ly/2ebgpxp>) provides a
> fascinating definition that gets to the emotive content of the word:
> ——
> Basically Ratchet is a term for someone who is such a
> ghetto/slutty/ugly/trashy hot mess that you have to use a word that doesn't
> even technically apply because what you are seeing is such a mess that it
> goes beyond any normal description.
> ——
> Urban dictionary has 183 definitions. I didn’t look past the first page.
> This word is in Wiktionary (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ratchet <
> https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ratchet>) but not the online Oxford
> Dictionaries.
> AFAIK, I had never heard this word before. The word evidently still has
> currency because the Hudson Brothers (http://bit.ly/2fg4YIW <
> http://bit.ly/2fg4YIW>) used it in an America’s Got Talent comedy act in
> 2014.

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list