I’m an old guy — as in senior citizen old. And I’m sometimes challenged to keep up with the latest and greatest language lingo and usage.
For example, when my daughter’s boyfriend told me that he was “down with” something I said, I became very defensive, thinking that I was being insulted. I later found out that it meant that he agreed with me or was “okay” with whatever it was that I said.
And when someone recently asked, “Do you feel me?” my response was, “Um, in this #MeToo era, do you really want me to?” I’m glad I asked first.
So these days, before I react to something I hear or read, I often look to the Urban Dictionary to help me understand what the hell people, particularly younger people — which, at my age is almost everyone — are talking about.
A few days ago, I heard someone use the phrase “off-the-hook.” The way I always understood the phrase “off-the-hook” is that it means being relieved from responsibility. For example, when Donald Trump heard that Attorney General Bill Barr’s summary of the Mueller Report found “no collusion and no obstruction” (it did not, in fact, find any such thing), Donald Trump felt like he was off the hook.
But it turns out that the person who used that expression meant it in an entirely different way. When he said it, his intended meaning for something being “off the hook” was that it was “fresh” and “new” and so in demand that the items in question are virtually flying off the hooks (or hangers or shelves) at stores.
Sure enough, when I went to the Urban Dictionary site, that was the second definition. The number one definition was “cool, happening,” as in “Bob’s party was totally off the hook!”
“Off the hook” also refers to something that exceeds a minimal standard of satisfaction or is appealing to one’s mind, as in “that song is off the hook!”
My definition for “off the hook” (to get away with something or to not be responsible for it) is what the Urban Dictionary calls the “old school” definition.
So I’m “old school,” huh? Well, that’s okay. I don’t really mind being thought of as old school. I take it as a badge of honor. And, by the way, the Urban Dictionary defines “old school” as “anything that is from an earlier era or previous generation and is looked upon with high regard or respect.” Woo hoo!
Besides, it’s also one of my favorite Steely Dan songs. I mean that song is off the hook.