Super! Smashing! Great!

Writing a post inspired by a Smashing Pumpkins song recently got me thinking about that word smashing.

Specifically, how in British English it’s used to mean great or fantastic. What’s the link between the most common meaning of the word (crushing/breaking), and this use?

It seems to have come about in the United States in the early 20th century, and have come from the music world, particularly the term smash hit. And where did that come from? It’s simple enough really. I suppose it just comes from the way a sudden, huge hit has such an impact on the charts, like it’s smashing them, hitting them hard. Because smash hit then became associated with great songs/albums/films/books etc. it’s not such a stretch to imagine then that smashing would come to mean great in general.

There’s another interesting theory about smashing though. This one suggests that it comes from the Irish-language is maith (é) sin, meaning that’s good, though there’s not much evidence to support that, even if other common words have come from the Irish language. I guess we’re all just attracted to the idea of interesting origins of words, even if the reality is usually much more mundane.

14 thoughts on “Super! Smashing! Great!

      • SMASH ETYMOLOGY. I break words down to their LCD’s. (Lowest Common Denominators) S, as a prefix, often denotes MOTION. The S denotes motion because of its ongoing sound: SSSSS. SHOO, SHOE,SWIM, SAUNTER, SHAKE, SULLY, SKI, SWING, etc.

        Think of SCOOP. It is a moving CUP. (S+CUP=SCOOP)

        MASH is a word that clearly is derived from a MOUTH word. We mash food in our mouths, particularly as infants. Other examples of M words referring to mouths are: MOUTH, SMOTHER, SMOOCH, MANGE ( Italian for “eat”), MANDIBLE! When you SMASH something, you do MASH it. Somehow, that’s got to be the link. And somehow, that image of smashing something, perhaps even pumpkins, a la Gallagher, got thought of as a fun thing to behold, hence smashing became a good thing.

        The written S is the likeness of a SNAKE. In Africa, a Puff Adder coils itself into S-shape and makes a HISS when startled. And you can break SNAKE down to S+NAKE ( NECK). A SNAKE is a MOVING NECK. English is really easy, when you know the original sound-to-thing codes we used when talking was a new thing, about 100,000 years ago. English began in Africa. That’s the big hush.

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        • And M is a depiction of the two lips used when saying M. 🙂 The scribes that created written letters knew this stuff. But their creation – written letters – made it so that people could be told what a letter sounded like – without knowing the underlying reasons. So the knowledge got lost over time. Much like those who read music before they learn to play from the heart rarely acquire that natural ear.

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  1. Thanks Niall. One more great S-word, since you wrote “inspiring”. SPIRIT is one of my favorite words. S+PYRE. A moving fire within ourselves is our spirit. All so logical. I still wonder why I seem to be the only person who has fully figured this out. Am I crazy? I have approached so many linguists too. Noam Chomsky took audience with me in 2008. He said it was a great thought, but I needed to prove it all – or no one would accept it in academia. He was right about that. I even offered linguists some decent money to do the proofs. No takers yet. But I still have time left in my life to get this proven and on the record. Right now I am distracted by Trump, who I went to school with in 1967. And SCHOOL is another good S-word denoting motion. It refers to a SCHOOL of fish. They move together. S+COLL(ective). That’s the essence of a school for kids to. They move together in a system of grades.

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