Wicked Wednesday–“Wicked”?

On Wicked Wednesdays we will all chime in on an answer to a question. Feel free to respond in the comments!

It’s Tell the Truth time–do you use the phrase “wicked”?

Liz: This topic is wicked awesome! No, seriously, it is. In the spirit of being honest, yes. I confess. I use the word wicked to describe lots of things, good and evil. My cat, Jack, is Jackiewicked. My new shoes are wicked. My job can be very wicked (depending on the day, that could be construed as good or bad).

For a while, when I was trying to be “corporate” and proper, I avoided the term. I also consciously eliminated my Boston accent, tired of all the snickers and grins when I was speaking animatedly. At the time, I thought it branded me in an unflattering way. Now, I embrace it.

One of my favorite T-shirts is from Salem, the Witch City. It says, “Life is wicked good.” And it’s even better when you’re being yourself. Embrace your wicked.

Jessie: I was raised in a religious family and have spent my fair share of hours polishing a pew with my backside. I don’t say wicked unless I am talking about evil. I envy those people who use the word approvingly and wish I was one of them. I love New Englandisms of all sorts and Wicked is one of my favorites. I love hearing people say things like “wicked cute” or “wicked tacky”. But it would never even occur to me to say something like that myself. I think if I did a whole tree full of ancestors would shake their branches at me menacingly and call me a very wicked child.

Edith: As I am a (fourth-generation) Californian, wicked with a positive reading is also not in my native lexicon. But I love it. These days I might write it, and it certainly put it in the mouth of characters in my books, but if I use it in conversation it is with the knowledge that I’m doing it consciously and might be called out on it. I’m also a linguist, though, and like to collect regionalisms. Out west we say, “Turn left at the signal.” Here people instruct, “Turn left at the set of lights.” Or even, “Turn left at the red light.” (But what if it isn’t red? And shouldn’t  you wait until it’s green?) A trash can is a barrel. A shopping cart is a carriage.  Chocolate_shakeA rubber band is an elastic. Famously, what I call a milkshake is a frappe here, because a milkshake in Boston doesn’t have ice cream in it. And that’s only skimming the surface of regionalisms.

Sherry: Like Edith, I’m not a native “wicked” speaker. After I lived in Massachusetts for a year, I would occasionally try it out. I love the expression but it doesn’t feel quite natural tripping off my tongue. And my then teenage daughter would tell me I wasn’t using “wicked” correctly. I managed to incorporate y’all into my vocabulary when we lived in northern Florida aka Lower Alabama. So I’m still hoping someday I can say y’all are wicked awesome without feeling like a fool.

Julie: “Wicked” is one of my favorite phrases. I will confess, I used it more when I was younger. But “wicked excellent”? How great is that phrase? Just try it. Anyone can say it–it doesn’t rely on the New England “r” at all. Now here’s an interesting twist on the conversation–I never use “wicked” to mean evil. Maybe because it can’t mean both in my brain. Which makes me wonder–did “wicked” become a term for “very” in New England as a reaction to Puritanism? Wicked awesome if it did.

6 Thoughts

  1. Barb here-buried in Level Best manuscripts and chiming in late. I’m not a native New Englander, but I love language and playing with it, so I do occasionally say, “Wicked.” I like to use it at just the right New England-y moment.

    My husband, who has a Boston accent you can cut with a knife never uses it.

  2. When I’m home I say wicked all the time. In Tucson it can get you deported.

  3. Although I’ve lived in CT my entire life I never heard “wicked” used to describe something good until about three years ago. That was in a book. I still have not heard it in conversation; if I used it that way my friends and relatives would probably think I’d had a stroke and was confusing words with their opposites!

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