Time, “The Many Things ‘Hot Mess’ Has Meant Through History”

April 2, 2014

Katy Steinmetz, “The Many Things ‘Hot Mess’ Has Meant Through History” (Time, Apr. 2, 2014)

In the South Midland region of the U.S., encompassing parts of states like Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee and Alabama, “mess” is used to describe an “objectionable or foolish person.” Ben Zimmer, executive director at Vocabulary.com, points out that none other than Scarlett O’Hara called Melanie as a “mealy-mouthed little mess” in the 1936 novel Gone With the Wind.

Zimmer also points out that “mess” and “hot” both have an abundance of slang meanings. Mess can describe an eccentric person, a large quantity or something both “praiseworthy” and “confusing.” Hot can be used to describe someone daring, flamboyant, uninhibited, wild, intense, lustful, sexy or drunk.

Read the rest here.

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