I was volleying instant messages back and forth with a colleague at work today when she asked if I worked in New England. I replied to the negative and told her that I was sitting in Central New York, more specifically to the east of Syracuse. She then commented on something on I had said earlier in the conversation which made her think I was a New Englander. I had written, “oh, he’s wicked smart about those things.”

Yes, I use “wicked” as an intensifier. “He was wicked mad about being short changed.” “The bar was wicked busy tonight.” “Wow, that meal was wicked good.”

I’ve said wicked for as long as I can remember. At first I was thinking that I picked the habit up when I lived in eastern Mass in the late 1980s (I can say ‘Worcester’ like a native without even thinking about it) but then I remembered having a conversation with my sister and her friend Tammy when they were in junior high school about the use of the word wicked. Apparently Tammy had used the word wicked in an essay or something and her English teacher didn’t like the use of the word in her prose.

What a wicked mean thing to do.

Since I can remember the conversation about use of the word wicked from my high school years, it must have been part of my vocabulary for longer than I originally thought. Now, as I try to fall asleep (I’m actually wicked tired tonight), I’m trying to recall if my cousins used the word in the same way. I’m pretty sure that my city cousins didn’t, but I’m not sure about the country cousins. I remember high school friends at our lunch table using the word wicked a lot, perhaps it migrated from New England to our area in the 1980s or something.

Whatever the reason, the word has remained in my vocabulary for the last 30 years or so. Its use has been a wicked good time.