Lately I’ve been perplexed by my teens’ novel usage of the words “awesome,” “hard-core,” and “metal.” Ever the logophile, I couldn’t stand not knowing the contemporary definitions of these words, but scrutinizing their context didn’t help me one bit. So I turned to Dominic, my hip and rad fourteen-year-old son, for enlightenment. I learned that, what was “groovy” when I was a teen, is now called “awesome.” The adjective “hard-core” denotes enthusiastic participation in an activity (“He practices piano four hours a day. That’s pretty hard-core!”). “Metal” refers to things that have a dangerous appeal.
Being “on top of the world” is awesome.
Being “in the world” is hard-core.
Being “of the world” is metal.
It’s Gerard’s birthday, and we throw him a party: Awesome.
Leo lights the birthday candles with a Zippo lighter: Hard-core.
The Zippo lighter sets fire to the tablecloth: Metal.