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Chillaxing

Q From Jerzy: Could you explain the meaning of the word chillaxing?

A Many thanks for introducing me to this bit of American slang, as I hadn’t come across it before. It’s a blend of chilling and relaxing and is hip-hop slang (chilling being from Black English to chill out, meaning to take things easy, to stay cool). According to Grant Barrett’s Double-Tongued Word Wrester site (he’s a lexicographer for Oxford University Press who — among other things — is the project editor for the Historical Dictionary of American Slang), this has been known online since 1994.

A rare example in print appeared in a reader’s review in the issue of Newsday for 8 December last year: “The album as a whole ... actually sounds like a parody of a hip-hop record, and is, in fact, too played out for servin’, too wack for chillaxing, and much too bunk to twurk to.” This sounds like somebody piling on the rap slang for supercharged ironic purposes and needs a translation for people like me who aren’t into this type of speech at all.

The online Rap Dictionary came to my aid with the essential glossary. Something wack is crazy or weird, something bunk is unpleasant, while to twurk means to dance (an earlier example is in the title of the Ying Yang Twins’ track Whistle While You Twurk, which was a hit in the Spring of 2000). So the writer was saying, roughly, that the album was too old-fashioned to be worth listening to, too weird to relax to, and too nasty to dance to.

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 12 Feb. 2005

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

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Last modified: 12 February 2005.