The website Urban Dictionary describes itself as “a veritable cornucopia of streetwise lingo, posted and defined by its readers.” In this post I’ve taken a number of aesthetic properties that are regularly listed in journal articles on aesthetics and fed them into Urban Dictionary to see how well they translate into street talk.
There are some regular terms that may be employed for the purposes of approbation or condemnation. Cool, awesome, stonking and dope are generally terms of praise. Something particularly superlative may be referred to as the sh*t. On the other hand crap, shite, bollocks, and pants generally refer to things at the other end of the scale.
Here are some very rough translations of some familiar aesthetic terms…
Amusing: the object of amusement is typically followed in the online world by lol or roflol.
Angry: mad or pissed (sometimes prefixed by insanely- or crazy-).
Beautiful: often used in relation to physical attractiveness (associated terms include: fit, foxy and hottie). Stunning, amazing, and perfection may be applied more generally.
Bold: ballsy, cocky, shameless.
Bouncy: banging (when applied to music though this term can also just be used to refer to something as good).
Comely: cute, gorgeous, stunning, hot.
Dainty: sweet or petite. May be prissy.
Daring: gutsy, ballsy.
Distorted: fuzzy, messed up, twisted.
Elegant: often used in relation to fashion (e.g. sophisticated, stylish, classy).
Garish: tacky, showy, overdone, bling.
Graceful: charming, classy.
Handsome: hottie, stud, buff, fit.
Lifeless: boring, dull, sad, braindead.
Lovely: adorable, delicious, a cutie.
Original: fresh, clever.
Powerful: awesome, amazing, a beast, intense, epic.
Pretty: cute, adorable.
Realistic: gritty (“X is a film depicting the gritty realism of life in the New York suburbs”).
Sentimental: mushy or sappy may be used to give a negative connotation.
Sluggish: stupid, retarded.
Sombre: dark, depressing, emo.
Sublime: awesome, stunning.
Tragic: awful, terrible, tradge. May be used to refer to a fashion victim.
Ugly: gross, disgusting (and many other terms that probably shouldn’t be repeated here.)
If you have any further suggestions to be added to the list feel free to write them in the comments section below.
The Structure of Aesthetic Properties
By Rafael De Clercq , Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
(Vol. 3, July 2008)