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“It's Wicked Awesome”

By Ethan Munns: For The Clock
On October 6, 2015

“It's Wicked Awesome” 

Ethan Munns

For The Clock

From New Hampshire to Vermont, Rhode Island to Massachusetts, and Connecticut to Maine, the word “wicked” is a cultural staple to the New England area. Anyone from around here more likely than not, grew up saying it.

A little background first, the word “wicked” in its dictionary definition means “evil or morally bad in principle or practice; sinful; iniquitous.” New England was the site of early Puritan development, the Puritans believed in demonology, which led to the start of the Salem witch trials. During the trials the Puritans were quick to point out those believed to be witches or demons plotting against the town. Anyone accused of being a witch was often associated with the word “wicked” being used as an adjective to describe his or her nature as evil and malicious. 

Starting in the 19th century the English language had advanced, and the word “wicked” had changed along with it. In New England the adjective transformed itself into an adverb. For example the use of “awful” had been changed to the adverb “awfully” just as “wicked” adapted to mean “really” or “very.” “Wicked” has transformed into an intensifier word, and can be used in a positive or negative manor.

Those who grew up in New England, and have been here all their lives will completely understand the word’s usage, while tourists and those from outside of the New England area will be lost on the entire trend. Cassie Pearson, a New Hampshire resident from Brentwood, said: “wicked has just been such a huge part of my life. One time I was driving with my friend and her grandparents down to their house, and every time either of us said ‘wicked’ they would count up one, two, three etc. It’s just nobody says anything about it. It’s a natural part of where I come from.”

On the other end of the “wicked awesome” spectrum is Libby Barden, a New York native from Catskill. Barden said: “Growing up I never heard of ‘wicked’ before, you would think I would, being so close to New England. People from New York have our own slang. We say ‘mad,’ like we’re mad tight. A lot of our slang comes from New York City, and makes its way through the educational systems to the youth. I never heard about

‘wicked’ until I started coming here, and I was so thrown off because my professors would use it casually on the syllabi. I had to go around asking my peers about what exactly it meant for the first two weeks before fully picking up on it.”

Whether or not someone grew up with “wicked” or discovered it by being surrounded with the culture of New England, rest assured they will probably be saying it nonstop by the time Thanksgiving break rolls around.


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