hip (adjective)

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Hip is an adjectival term that originally came from the Afro-American colloquial language of the USA, which has been used internationally since the 1960s.

Outside the US, it is considered a youth language term .

Word meaning

The meaning of the property designation “hip” is complex and has been subject to a number of changes and nuances over time. Today, “hip” is mainly used in meanings such as “hip”, “chic”, contemporary , “trendy”.

Older qualities of meaning with positive evaluating content in the sense of "highly developed", "worldly", "progressive", "witty", "sophisticated", "tasteful" and "pleasant" etc. are less common, but often still in the undertone of current linguistic usage included to some extent. In this respect, “hip” can have shades of similar meanings to the predominantly youth language terms “ cool ” or, more recently, “ cool ”.

Sometimes all of these terms are in almost simultaneous use and are therefore subject to increasing leveling of originally existing differences in meaning, some of which can only be inferred from the respective context or undertone of a statement.

Incidentally, the word "hip" is pronounced similarly or sometimes identical to the English word for "hip", but has nothing to do with it in terms of its meaning, since it is derived from a term in Afro-American colloquial language, the spelling and Pronunciation first appeared as "hep". If it is spelled later as "hip", the pronunciation still varies between the two forms, especially in American English .

History of origin and meaning

The term “hep” emerged as a forerunner of the “hip” variant in the USA in the 1920s in circles of the Afro-American jazz scene. It served as a multi-layered description of certain ways of life and attitudes, attitudes, initially also the connection to Afro-American jazz and especially to the jazz-specific rhythm of swing . Those who shared these attitudes were referred to as “Hep Cat” (often spelled in one word as “Hepcat”) or “Cat” for short. The word "cat" is still understood in this sense, especially among jazz musicians, but in other circles mainly in the meaning of "(any) person" as a kind of alternative to the English word "guy" = "type". The opposite term to "hip" was called "square", which means something like " stuffy ", "bitchy", "limited", also "awkward" and was then often used as a noun as a general term for a member of the white American population .

In the 1950s, the term, which had meanwhile been transformed from “hep” to “hip”, found its way into the parlance of a section of the white American youth who, in a strongly conservative climate of society, were striving to find more progressive attitudes. In the course of these intentions, which included in particular the overcoming of the still deeply established racial segregation, a spiritual movement emerged whose followers began to call themselves “ hipsters ” or “ beatniks ” and tried to imitate their black peers in many ways.

One of the main voices of this movement, the author Norman Mailer , formulated the content-related interpretation of the terms "hip" and "square" in an essay in 1957 as opposites in attitudes and attitudes towards life as follows:

“Hip - Square /  wild - practical /  romantic - classic /  instinct - logic /  Negro - white /  inductive - programmatic /  the relation - the name /  spontaneous - orderly /  perverse - pious /  midnight - noon /  nihilistic - authoritarian /  associative - sequential /  a question - an answer /  obeying the form of the curve - living in the cell of the square /  self - society /  crooks - cops /  free will - determinism. "

The word hippie , derived from hipster, was created as a contemptuous, mockingly belittling term - sometimes used by angry US citizens who mostly belonged to the conservative, white class of society and were hostile to the oppositional attitudes of the hipster movement, sometimes by the “hipsters” and “beatniks “Themselves, who saw themselves as a kind of intellectual elite and used the term as a condescending term for imitators in the sense of“ would-be hipsters ”.

From the hipster and beatnik currents, a new youth movement developed with, in contrast to their politically relatively diffuse attitudes, clearer political positions, which were particularly influenced by increasingly decisive oppositional attitudes of American youth towards the Vietnam War. This new movement adopted the name “hippie” and in the mid-1960s it quickly spread internationally, particularly from San Francisco. In Western Europe, the hippie movement on the US west coast had a strong inspirational influence and was a catalyst for the cultural revolution of the 1968 movement .


Web links

Wiktionary: hip  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b Joachim Ernst Behrendt: A window from jazz - essays, portraits, reflections , page 258 ff. Fischer TB Verlag, Frankfurt a. M. 1978
  2. German-English online dictionary dict.cc . Retrieved March 13, 2010.
  3. hip Aus: Wiktionary (free dictionary). Retrieved March 13, 2010.
  4. ^ Norman Mailer: The Hip and the Square: 1. The List . In: Advertisements for Myself . Putnam's, New York 1959