The letter H is for ‘hung’. Do you know what that word *really* means?

There are four letters in the word hung. There are four letters in the word cool. They have never changed. But the meaning certainly has. At least if you’re between the ages of oh … 14 – 25?

For the oldies, let’s check …
Per dictionary.com, ‘hung’ means:
verb
1. simple past tense and past participle of hang.

and ‘cool’ means:
adjective
1. moderately cold; neither warm nor cold: a rather cool evening.

But … over the years, through the generations, depending on your locale around the world and even, perhaps, your social class or status, these words can (and do!) mean totally different things.

Cool is no longer a temperature, it’s a state of being. Or is it a temperature again?
Hung is no longer representative of the clothes on the line, or the stockings by the Christmas fire. It’s the size of a male … well … if you can’t figure that out, just Google it.

What’s a writer/reader to do when the choice of word selection can mean two different things to two different people?

In the YA genre, which is 99% written by adults, are we even picking up on the proper usage of these words? Is cool still … ‘cool’? In another couple years, will being ‘hung’ once again be a form of death, not the length or girth of a male … well … you know.

It’s hard speaking the language and yet not offending, getting the message across and being connected with a particular generation. This has to be why parents and kids are so different. We see, hear, learn and generally experience life differently … yet all the same at the same time.

How about you? Do you find yourself in the middle of a faux pas using a word your kids cringe at, but it had a totally different meaning just 5, 10 or 25 years before?

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