I thought it might be fun to review some of my favorite exclamations whose meanings don’t necessarily align with what we know them to mean in contexts of great excitement and exuberant expression.

Check out Cool. The description the dictionary gives is:

imparting a sensation of moderate coldness or comfortable freedom from heat: a cool breeze.

I don’t know about you, but when I say cool in appreciation of something, I’m not seeking to impart some personal information about the temperature adjustments I’m experiencing because of what I’m enjoying.

One I don’t really use myself, but enjoy the thrust with which others use it, is Get out! The definition goes like this:

Chiefly British . a method or maneuver used to escape a difficult or embarrassing situation; cop-out: The scoundrel has used that get-out once too often.

Funny, but I’ve never heard this expression used that way. People are either using it to tell someone that their departure is desired immediately or as a way to let their hearer know that they can’t stay in the same mental room with what information or concept is being discussed.

No way! is, of course, pretty similar. The description for it’s use is given this way:

No! (Compare this with Way!) :  She can’t do that. No way!

It’s interesting that the person who is usually saying this (with all the force of a verbal tornado) is either visibly pleased with what they are saying should not be or they are so disturbed that people like me are inclined to be glad that whatever they’re reacting to is so because I wouldn’t get to enjoy their vivid response.

One I must admit that I overuse is Sweet. What am I saying when I use this term? Technically, I am letting you know that what I recognize what I’m complementing as

having the taste or flavor characteristic of sugar, honey, etc. which may or may not be

producing the one of the four basic taste sensations that is not bitter, sour, or salt.
I’m letting you know that I don’t think what you’ve just told me or shown me is rancid or stale; thus, if it were milk that I had the choice of drinking, I would not have the fear of it being bitter. (Yay for you! But that’s another exclamation that I don’t plan to discuss in this post.)

And now, for the one that I always get a kick out of hearing someone spring on another: Shut up! What is the meaning for this one?

to put (a door, cover, etc.) in position to close or obstruct.
I may be smiling when I say this, but perhaps I am covertly informing you that I would like you to assume an indefinite silence after what I’ve just heard from you.
to close the doors of (often followed by up ): to shut up a shop for the night.
Yeah, the more I think about it, there’s no way someone could say Shut up! and not mean it…this way.
to confine; enclose: to shut a bird into a cage.
…Would you agree?
Let me leave you with this thought: When you want to express your delight or shock to someone go ahead and use any of these words above that you like. Just remember, they don’t really mean what you’re using them to say!
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