That’s So Metal…. says THE DICTIONARY (Merriam-Webster considering new adjective)
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Obviously “metal” is a word in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as a noun (referring to the material and also the music genre), but they’re also looking into updating the definition to include it as an adjective too, as in, “that’s so metal.” The word was added to their Words We’re Watching list, where they discuss words that have been increasing in usage and are candidates for addition to the dictionary. The addition would be metal’s adjective form: “the upstart metal descriptor evokes the powerful energy and dark themes of heavy metal music, communicating toughness, intensity, and general, er, badassery,” a usage, according to Merriam-Webster, that dates back to the early 2000s. How metal is that?
Our metal sister site Invisible Oranges ran a piece about the meaning of the word “metal” in conjunction with this news from Webster. Here’s an excerpt:
If you’ve spent time around metalheads, you’ve undoubtedly heard the word “metal” used this way. You may have used it this way yourself. Among those in the know, describing something as being metal is a quick way to say, “hey, you know that thing that we’re both intimately familiar with? This other thing reminds me of that, and I enjoy it in the same way.” However, metal (the adjective) showing up on Webster’s radar means that its usage has spread outside of the metal community and reached a critical mass with the public.
This has little to no effect on heavy metal music, but it does present an opportunity to see what associations people have with the genre.
Important to note: Merriam-Webster are concerned with metal’s use as a non-musical adjective. This is a minor distinction, but not an insignificant one. Saying “this song is metal” means that the song is similar to heavy metal music. “This burrito is metal” means that somehow a delicious, wrapped collection of cooked meats, cheese, and rice has temporarily embodied the spirit of heavy metal.
Read the rest at Invisible Oranges.