hot take

It recently occurred to me that I have not, in fact, been using the term hot take for decades. It’s odd the way that new (or newly widespread) coinages seem to have been around forever. But then, the really successful neologisms fill a need for a succinct phrase to describe a common feeling, so naturally I would have used the term had it been in use.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, A Brief History of Bad Sportswriting by Tomas Rios is a pretty thorough grounding, and A History of the Hot Take by Elspeth Reeve takes you through the spread of the term outside sports.

One of the things that’s interesting to me is that while the term sounds like a positive one, it never had any positive connotation. It was popularized as a derisive term for a particular kind of writing, and now I see it most often used as a self-deprecating humorous insulation from the user’s unpopular opinion—or alternately, used entirely ironically by someone tweeting a supposed hot take that they mean to express the wrongness of. It sounds like it was derived from an actual positive term, but I don’t think it was. When you call something a hot take, you aren’t quite saying it’s wrong, but you are pretty much saying that there’s no evidence it’s right, and that it’s poorly thought-out even it if happens to be correct.

I can’t immediately think of other terms that seem like they ought to be positive but are exclusively used derisively.


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