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Re: Cool

Posted by Gary Martin on September 24, 2010 at 08:26

In Reply to: Cool posted by B Fultz on September 24, 2010 at 08:21:

: Who first used "cool"? ... Recently read Dickens' Great Expectations, 1860, chapter LVII, p. 517 Barnes & Noble Classics edition" :

: ..."she [Miss Havisham] wrote out a little coddleshell in her own hand a day or two afore the accident, leaving a cool four thousand unto Mr Matthew Pocket. And why, do you suppose, above all things, Pip, she left that cool four thousand unto him? 'Because of Pip's account of him the said Matthew.' I am told by Biddy, that air the writing, said Joe, repeating the legal turn as if it did him infinite good, 'account of him the said Matthew.' And a cool four thousand, Pip!". I never discovered from whom Joe derived the conventional temperature of the four thousand pounds, but it appeared to make the sum of money more to him, and he had a manifest relish in insisting on its being cool." Pretty cool, no?

Dickens appears to have been using 'cool' in the sense of, in the OED's definition 'Of a person, an action, or a person's behaviour: assured and unabashed where diffidence and hesitation would be expected; composedly and deliberately audacious'. That usage is recorded by the OED from 1723. The meaning we now usually give to 'cool' derives from jazz musician's usage, in the 20th century, although that latter meaning may well have derived from the former.