“Fit” Carries the Day

Apologies for the long gap in posting — I have been in Melbourne, Australia, leading a study abroad program for the University of Delaware, and pondering whether the preferred spelling is “brekky” or “brekkie.” The program is winding down and I have a free moment, so wanted to tardily report on Lynne Murphy’s annual U.K.-to-U.S. Word of the Year selection.

As the heading says, it was “fit,” in the sense of sexually attractive. Lynn notes that I have deemed it an “outlier,” but, as she delicately and accurately suggests, “Ben’s probably not in the right demographic for hearing it.”

The OED has the word first showing up in an exchange quoted in a 1985 Observer article: “Better ‘en that bird you blagged last night.” “F—— off! She was fit.” It seems to have been given a boost by its use on Sacha Baron Cohen’s Da Ali G Show and on British reality TV shows, such as Made in Chelsea; the clip below is from a “super-fan show,” “Mad on Chelsea.”

Lynne suggests that the U.S. uptick in awareness of “fit” is largely due to another reality show, Love Island, where the word apparently is uttered so often that it’s included in an American glossary of unfamiliar terms used on the show. (And by the way, I think I have to take another look at “banter.”) The British characters on Ted Lasso throw it around as well.

And it shows up in a Love Island takeoff on SNL (at 1:12).

All well and good. But I still say it’s an outlier.

10 thoughts on ““Fit” Carries the Day

  1. Small typo, it’s ‘made in Chelsea’.
    I really enjoy your articles (coincidentally I’ve just finished Lynne Murphy’s Prodigal Tongue).
    You’re probably aware of Tony Thorne’s work as well.

  2. “The OED has the word first showing up in an exchange quoted in a 1985 Observer article”
    It was used frequently in my secondary school in Derbyshire in the late 1970s, so (as is often the case) was around for a while before being first documented.

  3. Although I’m not in the right demographic either, it appears the Mad on Chelsea is a discussion show about the reality show Made in Chelsea. (No, I’ve not watched either.)

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