- Hip (slang)
Hip is a
slangterm meaning "fashionably current" and "in the know". Hip is the opposite of square or prude.
"Hip", like "cool", does not refer to one specific quality. What is considered hip is in constant change. The term "hip" is said to have originated in
African American Vernacular English(AAVE) in the early 1900s, derived from the earlier form "hep". Despite research and speculation by both amateur and professional etymologists, the origins of the term "hip" and "hep" are disputed. Many etymologists believe that the terms "hip", "hep" and "hepcat" (e.g., jazz musicians' now cliched "hip cat") derive from the west African Wolof languageword "hepicat", which means "one who has his eyes open". [Holloway, Joseph E. [http://www.slaveryinamerica.org/history/hs_es_languages.htm The Impact of African Languages on American English] . " [http://www.slaveryinamerica.org Slavery in America] ". Retrieved on 2006.10.05.] Some etymologists reject this, however, and have even adopted the denigration "to cry Wolof" as a general dismissal or belittlement of etymologies they believe to be based on "superficial similarities" rather than documented attribution. [e.g. Grant Barrett, " [http://www.doubletongued.org/index.php/grantbarrett/humdinger_of_a_bad_irish_scholar/ Humdinger of a Bad Irish Scholar] ", in "The Lexicographer's Rules", 2007.11.09]
An alternative theory traces the word's origins to those who used
opiumrecreationally in the 19th century. Opium smokers commonly consumed the drug lying on their sides (i.e. their hips). Because opium smoking was a practice of socially-influential trend-setting individuals, the cachet it enjoyed led to the circulation of the term "hip" by way of a kind of synecdoche. This theory, however far-fetched, is most certainly disproven by the fact that the term "hep" was used until around 1940, when it was replaced in popular culture with the term "hip" for no apparent reason other than to make the word current again.
Early currency of the term (as the past participle "hipped", meaning informed), is documented in the 1914 novel "The Auction Block" by
Rex Beach(bolding added)::"His collection of Napoleana is the finest in this country; he is an authority on French history of that period - in fact, he's as nearly hipped on the subject as a man of his powers can be considered hipped on anything" [ Rex Beach, (1914) "The Auction Block", New York: A. L. Burt, p.91-92.]
In 1947, Harry "The Hipster" Gibson wrote the song "It Ain't Hep" about the switch from "hep" to "hip':'
"Hey you know there's a lot of talk going around about this hip and hep jive. Lots of people are going around saying "hip." Lots of squares are coming out with "hep." Well the hipster is here to inform you what the jive is all about." "The jive is hip, don't say hep "That's a slip of the lip, let me give you a tip "Don't you ever say hep it ain't hip, NO IT AIN'T "It ain't hip to be loud and wrong "Just because you're feeling strong "You try too hard to make a hit "And every time you do you tip your mitt "It ain't hip to blow your top "The only thing you say is mop, mop, mop "Keep cool fool, like a fish in the pool "That's the golden rule at the Hipster school "You find yourself talking too much "Then you know you're off the track "That's the stuff you got to watch "Everybody wants to get into the act "It ain't hip to think you're "in there" "Just because of the zooty suit you wear "You can laugh and shout but you better watch out "Cause you don't know what it's all about, man "Man you ain't hip if you don't get hip to this hip and hep jive "Now get it now, look out "Man get hip with the hipster, YEAH!"Got to do it!"
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.