Do more people use the word ‘despicable’ now, because of the animated film?

What’s The Frequency Kenneth? It got a big laugh when I used it as a faux-title in reply to my Father asking us what film we were watching, it was in fact Despicable Me 2. I had to later explain to the unschooled room that I wasn’t witty enough to make up the title of an animated film, I just named an R.E.M. song off the cuff. The song’s title had slipped into my linguistic consciousness, and in a similar way, so has the word despicable. 

Have you noticed that that the word despicable is being used a lot more nowadays? Check out these headlines today: “China denounces ‘despicable’ arson attack at San Francisco consulate” (South China Morning Post) / “IOC president Thomas Bach condemns ‘despicable’ attacks in Volgograd” (CNN) / ““Mama Bear” goes after “despicable” MSNBC over the mocking of Romney’s black grandson” (US Finance Post).

People are saying it more in conversation to, “I think all this food waste over Christmas is just despicable” / “Raising the price of train tickets again! Despicable!”.

Popular culture has quite some power over the linguistic patterns of the Western world. The first Despicable Me film was released in 2010 and since then — I assume — the use of the word has gone up (I tried to prove this on Google’s Ngram Viewer but figures only go up to 2008).

Another word that re-emerged into the dialectical zeitgeist was ‘random’, thanks to — according to Dad’s theory — the feature on the late 90s to early 00s hi-fis in which the machine would mix up the tracks on your CDs, albeit which much clunking and dull thudding inside the machine as this process occurred. In 2008, everyone was saying it, well at least a lot of the kids in our church youth group were. There was even a play by debbie tucker green (sic) with that title, a great play in fact.

The word random’s died down by now, thanks to Apple’s attempt at hijacking the function and calling it shuffle. I’m sure the word despicable will disappear too.


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