Is ‘coolth’ catching on?


The temperature is 90 F and rising. Seems like a good time to discuss ‘coolth’.  Just as we have ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ paired as opposites, and ‘warm’ and ‘cool’, we also have ‘warmth’ and ‘coolth’.  But, ‘coolth’  is used far less often than ‘warmth’ and retains a note of humor in its usage. Is it perceived as witty precisely because it is still a novel term, relative to the oh-so-commonplace ‘warmth’?  Is ‘the coolth of the evening’ more zippy than ‘the cool of the evening’?  My online dictionary cites an example illustrating that ‘coolth’ is not restricted wholly to temperature, but has adopted the metaphoric meaning of its cousin ‘cool’ conveying ‘hip, fashionable’ as in ‘the pinnacle of 1960s coolth’. What about metaphoric extensions to personality traits? How many times have we heard or read ‘the warmth of her smile’ or  ‘there was no warmth in his voice’.  Is ‘the coolth of her smile’ a little too awkward? I confess my own linguistic intuitions are feeling pretty comfortable with ‘there was a noticeable coolth in his tone during the speech.’  Or, perhaps it’s just the heat that is addling my brain. 🙂

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4 Responses to Is ‘coolth’ catching on?

  1. bbear says:

    I don’t think you can say ‘coolth’ three times fast. In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening was a song back in those innocent and slightly cloying days before the leading edge of the Baby Boom began its Shermanesque march through American popular culture. Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer wrote it for the 1951 movie Here Comes the Groom and it won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. The duet recording by Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman was a hit that year, and it’s been recorded by a number of others too. Here’s the Johnny Mercer lyric, chorus alternating with verse…

    In the cool, cool, cool of the evening
    Tell ’em I’ll be there
    In the cool, cool, cool of the evening
    Save your pappy a chair
    When the party’s getting a glow on
    And singin’ fills the air
    In the shank of the night
    When the doin’s are right
    Well you can tell em I’ll be there

    I like a barbecue
    I like to boil a ham
    And I vote for bouillabaisse stew
    What’s that?
    I like a weenie bake, steak and a layer cake
    And you’ll get a tummy ache too
    We’ll rent a tent or a teepee
    Let the town crier cry
    “All’s well!”
    And if it’s RSVP
    This is what I’ll reply

    In the cool, cool, cool of the evening
    Tell ’em we’ll be there
    If you need a pair of freeloaders
    To fracture your affair
    I may even give them Pagliacci
    Now stand back and give him air
    If one can relax and we’ll have a few yaks
    And you can tell them we’ll be there

    “Oui,” said the bumblebee
    “Let’s have jubilee.”
    “When?” said the prairie hen, “Soon?”
    “Sure,” said the dinosaur
    “Where?” said the grisly bear
    “Under the light of the moon.”
    “How about your brother, jackass?”
    Everyone gaily cried
    “Are you coming to the fracas?”
    Ain’t gonna blow it
    “And all the respects,” he sighed

    In the cool, cool, cool of the evening
    Tell ’em I’ll be there
    In the cool, cool, cool of the evening
    Stickum on my hair
    If perchance we look a bit peeked
    Remember c’est la guerre
    If we’re still on our feet
    And there’s something to eat
    Well you can tell them we’ll be there

    In the cool, cool, cool of the evening
    Tell ’em I’ll be there
    In the cool, cool, cool of the evening
    Better save a chair
    When the party’s getting a glow on
    And singin’ fills the air
    If there’s gas in my hack
    and my laundry is back
    If there’s room for one more
    And you need me
    Why sure
    If you need a new face or a tenor or base
    If I can climb out of bed and put a head on my head
    Well you can tell ’em we’ll be there.

  2. achouston says:

    Wow, that’s an amazing set of lyrics. What’s the film about?

  3. Hailey says:

    You could not be more factual

  4. “Is coolth catching on? | Word Travels” was indeed a fantastic article.
    If solely there were even more weblogs just like this one in the
    net. Regardless, thanks a lot for ur time, Lynette

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