Marijuana has many nicknames, however, weed is the most popular slang term. Have you ever wondered how weed became the hippest slang term for marijuana? Let’s find out!
Born in the 1930’s
It all started in the 1930’s, when debates were happening over the use of the plant. People wanted to find more creative terms for marijuana. In 1929, American Speech referred to cannabis as a “marijuana cigarette“. About three years later, Chicago Defender reported that “The humble ‘reefer,’ ‘the weed,’ the marijuana, or what have you by way of a name for a doped cigarette has moved to Park Ave. from Harlem”. The first person to ever use the now popular slang term was novelist Raymond Chandler, “they were loaded with a greenish powder he knew was an arsenic weed”.
The word weed started to increase in usage around the 1990’s. Even today, weed still holds the crown for most popular slang term. Back in 2013, Google Books reported that smoke weed came up 149 times. Sounds small, but not compared to smoke marijuana, which only popped up 69 times. A little higher, but not high enough to steal the glory, smoke pot appeared 94 times. On Urban Dictionary, there are over 225 definitions for weed, the most popular being “God’s gift to the world. Brings peace when used wisely”. It doesn’t stop there, you can even find unique imitations of the word, such as Weedafarian.
Weed is taking over
Perhaps it’s a preference of the new generation, nevertheless, weed has all the power. People have gotten tired of the usual dope and pot terms that they so often heard come from their parent’s mouth while they were waving the “no-no” finger. Different from the hippy-like term grass, the king of marijuana slang proves to be a much catchier version.
Though weed has become more mainstream, it’s still not so popular in the world of journalism. Writers, surprisingly, often favor the term pot. However, the New York Times includes weed in their writings, but only in direct quotations. They more commonly prefer to use the original term marijuana, despite the popularity of today’s slang. In fact, they like the classic term so much, that they used it 27 times in an article that was recently released. That’s not even including the headline, I guess they like to keep it simple. Luckily, there are Times columnists out there who like to follow their own styles of writing. A few months ago, David Brooks published a column that included the ever so popular weed.
“For a little while in my teenage years, my friends and I smoked marijuana. It was fun. I have some fond memories of us all being silly together. I think those moments of uninhibited frolic deepened our friendships.
But then we all sort of moved away from it. I don’t remember any big group decision that we should give up weed. It just sort of petered out, and, before long, we were scarcely using it”.