Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Michelle Kaplan
"The New York Radio Girl"

Have you ever heard somebody use a slang word in English?

Do you use the word “baddest” for example?

There are some words that may be hard to understand in English because they are positive words that may have a negative meaning.

Today we are looking at slang words like this, and how you can use them in conversations in a very modern way.

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We have a question about this word and how you handle it in a conversation.

Hi ladies,

I have been listening to your podcasts for a couple of months now, and I just love them. I am very happy to report that I have improved my listening and also my confidence in connecting with others.

First of all, I want to thank you very much for the awesome tips that you provide. I also want to ask you a question about the word “baddest.” What does this mean?

I saw this when a friend commented on somebody’s post on Instagram. They said “still the baddest”, and I was so confused by this. I would really appreciate it if you could explain this to me. I just want to understand it, and also know how to use it in conversation.

Thank you for your help,

Niloofar from Iran

Looking At Some Slang

So this is a great question about a word that isn’t even a real word.

If you really think about it and look into it, you will find that “baddest” isn’t even a word.

This is slang, and therefore it’s something that you may hear in conversation but it can be confusing when you try to understand the actual meaning.

This is all about using a common superlative format incorrectly in order to be slang.

Bad is irregular, and then if something isn’t good it goes from bad to worse to the worst.

This is how things may rank when you look at something that isn’t good, and the scale of just how bad it really is.

It’s unclear exactly how this all came to be, but “baddest” is now slang as it’s so informal in its uses or application.

In general, it actually means “cool” or “tough” or “awesome”, it somehow becomes a sort of compliment in a weird way.

It’s usually meant in a tough kind of way, showing strength or some sort of dedication or determination in some manner.

You may hear it used in sports, but then also hear it used in songs so it’s sort of all over the place in its usage.

It’s quite common and yet there is a rather broad range of definitions and uses for this slang word.

Looking At Examples

So on Instagram, which is usually informal, it makes sense to use a word such as this.

Looking at the example in the letter “Still the baddest” was maybe referring to a picture of someone looking super cool or in a tough pose.

You can use this in a variety of ways and to talk about a range of different topics.

You could say something like “She’s the baddest girl I know.”

This doesn’t mean that the girl is actually bad, but rather tough or strong in some way.

You might hear “That food truck is the baddest. Seriously you have to try it.”

In this example, it means that it’s amazing or that it’s another level of good.

You may hear it used referring to people the most frequently, but it may also apply to something like a certain style, or even food.

You may not use it much, but you are bound to hear it used fairly frequently because it’s quite prominent.

Sometimes we use negative words to mean positive things, and this is a perfect example of that.

Other Examples of Negative Words To Mean Positive Things

There are other words that are like “baddest” in the sense that it’s a negative word that actually means a positive thing.

There are actually plenty of examples of this, and you may remember that we did an episode about one such word like this in the past.

Check out IELTS Energy 835 where we talked about sick, wicked, and ill: 4 Sick Slang Phrases To Boost Your IELTS Part 1 Speaking Score

So if we look at examples of negative words that mean positive things, it can help to see them and understand what they mean.

  • Sick: This is not about being ill or bad, and it actually means really good. You will hear this a lot as in “That house is sick!” This means that it’s really good or just amazing, and it’s a slang way to say it. This one is very common and you will hear it a lot.
  • Destroy: This is saying that you did a good job of something. It’s the complete opposite of what you may know the meaning to be which is to say ruined something. The slang version of destroy is quite different where you are complimenting somebody on their hard work or great job. You could say “She destroyed that song. It was amazing!”
  • Crush: This is setting yourself up for success and saying that you are going to do really well and even exceed expectations. “I’m going to crush this job interview!”

The main point here is to listen for context, because sometimes a word can have a very different meaning when used as slang.

Baddest generally does not mean bad, and that’s the difference with the main example.

So in the following examples which meaning would apply?

“This food is sick!” If someone is happy, then sick means good! Also, you wouldn’t describe food as sick to mean not feeling well. You might say that the food made you sick afterwards if that was the case.

“Oh no! You are going to destroy the table if you spill your drink on it.” Here it actually means to ruin and it’s not the slang version at all.

“You totally destroyed that workout. You really worked up a great sweat.” This means that you did a great job and worked really hard.

“You’re gonna crush that presentation, I know it!” This means that you are going to do really great and exceed expectations.

“Don’t crush the box. I need it.” This is the literal meaning and means you don’t want to ruin the box so that it can’t be used again.

Takeaway

Slang can be a bit tricky to understand at first, but you will hear it used in conversation a lot.

These are all super useful, both the slang and real version of the words.

They are both grammatically and not grammatically correct, and they are the perfect example of learning outside of just a textbook.

This is a great concept to understand so that you know how to use each one in conversation, and really try out some new slang uses to keep current.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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