Posted by ESC on September 23, 2003

In Reply to: "Word" posted by jao on September 23, 2003

: Any insights on the urban slang of "word" as a reply I thing meaning agreement with another or aprobation of their actions.

WORD!/WORD UP! - "The clever, pithy, and witty interjection played a major role in the speech of young people in the 1970s and 1980s." During that time period, word was "an interjection used when you have nothing of substance to say, or Yes!" In hip-hop and rap slang, Word and Word Up! mean "I agree!" From "Flappers 2 Rappers: American Youth Slang" by Tom Dalzell (Merriam-Webster Inc., Springfield, Md., 1996)

Another reference gives more detail on the origins of this expression. "Word is born! - An affirmative response to a statement or action. Also Word!, Word up!, Word to the Mother! A resurfacing of an old, familiar saying in the Black Oral Tradition, 'Yo word is yo bond,' which was popularized by the Five Percent Nation (formed by former members of the Nation of Islam) in its early years. Word is born! Reaffirms strong belief in the power of the word, and thus the value of verbal commitment. One's word is the guarantee, the warranty, the bond, that whatever was promised will actually occur. 'Born' is a result of the AAF (African-American English) pronunciation of bond." From Black Talk: Words and Phrases from the Hood to the Amen Corner by Geneva Smitherman (Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, N.Y., 1994)