Karen M. recently referred to something as "emo," and suddenly I'm seeing the term everywhere. Turns out it's more or less derived from "emotional hardcore" as a genre of music, and so of course it now also refers to "a wide range of fashion styles and attitudes somewhat affiliated with Emo music and its related scenes," as Wikipedia puts it.

The musical term has apparently been in use since 1985 or earlier, so I guess this is still more evidence (as if we needed any) that I'm culturally illiterate.

I'm not normally a big fan of Urban Dictionary, but I'm amused by a bit of sample emo dialogue from one of their entries on emo:

girlfriend: C'mon, lets have sex.

boyfriend: I'm too sad to have sex.

girlfriend: I'm sad too; lets have sex and cry.

boyfriend: I'm already crying.

--from the definition submitted by "Pureblarney"

On a side note: "literally" alert! The Wikipedia entry for "Emo (music)" includes the phrase "members of a band would become spontaneously and literally emotional." As opposed to being only metaphorically emotional?

3 Responses to “emo”

  1. John Schoffstall

    ‘Literally’ is well on its way to losing all specific meaning and becoming a mere intensifier, like ‘very’ or ‘really’.

  2. Shmuel

    Literally has been used as a hyperbolic intensifier for centuries, and the language seems to be managing. Both meanings have their uses.

    (See Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage for much more on this, including citations from those who have used the word metaphorically and those who have been critical of same.)

  3. Shmuel

    Oh, and as regards the Wikipedia use, while the sentence could have been worded more elegantly, I take the intended point as meaning that they became emotional, hence “emo.” “Literally” points to “emotional” as the originating word, while specifying that it is not to be taken as a label: the singers at the time weren’t intentionally acting in an “emo” sort of way, which might or might not be the result of genuine emotion.


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