Monday, March 5, 2012

'COOL' an essay

There are a lot of 'bad' words in popular use that need to be eliminated from the English language. 'Cool' is about the worst of the bunch! It is frustrating when politicians interject 'look' in their speeches, and disturbing when people say 'seen' for saw, when they use I or me incorrectly or say don't when they mean doesn't. But, to consider getting rid of the worst 'bad' word, let us begin with 'cool.'

As a reader, writer and proud English language communicator, I am appalled at the frequency with which 'cool,' this useless, misused and overused word, is spoken. I am flabbergasted when intelligent and educated people flagrantly or casually mouth it. It is no longer just the ignorant, uneducated and unfortunate using 'cool' to mean anything, everything and, consequently, nothing at all. I am reminded of Andy Rooney's explanation of people using "obscenities... dumb people do it because they can't think of what they want to say and they're frustrated. A lot of smart people do it to pretend they aren't very smart - want to be one of the boys." Cool has become an obscene word. It's time for a replacement!

Yes, there are correct uses for the word 'cool.' According to the American Heritage Dictionary of English Language, cool refers to something moderately cold. It indicates the feeling of coolness due to lowered temperature. It is something calm and controlled. Cool means dislike or disdain; bold or impudent. It may be the metaphor of colors like blue or green. In slang, cool means indifferent, aloof or excellent. The list goes on: less intense, slowed down, to be kept waiting, a state of composure. It is synonymous with collected, unruffled, nonchalant and detached. None of these definitions seem to fit the common usage of 'cool' as we hear it in today's popular vocabulary.

'Cool' is not a good word. It means anything a speaker wants it to mean while the listener if left to assume the speaker is saying something meaningful - sort of. Won't we all, speakers or listeners, feel better about ourselves when we use real and appropriate words to express important thoughts, fantastic ideas, exciting experiences and true feelings?

Tell me what you think. I'd like to know.

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