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Last Updated: Friday, 8 August, 2003, 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK
Cool is still cool
Children are inventive with language
It is still cool for children to talk about things being "cool" or "wicked" according to a huge survey.

The words have been popular for many years but show no signs of going out of fashion.

Among 20,000 school children questioned for a survey by Penguin books, 17% said their favourite word was "cool".

"Wicked" was the next favourite - chosen by 14%.

Other popular slang words include bling-bling, mint, groovy, kerching, and respect.

Others are doh!, pukka, and phat, fab, lush and brill.

There are regional variations in favourite words.

School children in Northern Ireland like the words stroked and googleygook, while in southern England chilling and whatever are popular.

In northern England favourite words include football and class, while the favourite word for girls there is Beckham.

New words spotted by researchers included nang (great) and wagwaan (rap-term for greetings).

Many of the slang phrases - such as safe - are already in the Penguin English Dictionary, but others - such as chilly wax (good) will be added if they remain popular.

Penguin publisher Martin Toseland says some words have changed meaning.

"In the 60s, 70s or 80s, if you said something was heavy, you meant it was tragic or disturbing, but now it means something good."

He said language takes a long time to evolve and the same change in meaning had happened to the word "nice", which in 16th century England meant stupid or foolish.


He says the survey is the biggest every carried out into children's language - and that makes it very useful.

"Normally when lexicologists are researching new words for dictionaries they look at language used in newspapers and other media.

"They don't usually go to where language is at its most inventive - in schools or where kids are talking to each other."

He said subsequent surveys would be compared to this one to see which words remain popular or get into common usage - and then these could go into dictionaries too.

What do they all mean?

  • bling-bling - flashy jewellery or attire
  • mint - having money
  • groovy - good / hip and trendy
  • kerching - money
  • phat - good
  • doh! oh no - as in Homer Simpson
  • stoked - happy
  • googleygook - gobbledegook

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