Hip (slang)  

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“Ladies and Gentlemen, we'd like you to meet Shorty Petterstein, who is one of the up and coming jazz, uh, French trump- trumpeters, do they call 'em Oscar?”
“No, man, I blow, um, French horn, man. I blow French horn, man.”
“Would you get a little, just a, a little closer to the microphone?”
“French horn man.”
--"Interview with Shorty Petterstein" (1955) by Henry Jacobs

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Hip is a slang term meaning fashionably current.

Hip, like cool, does not refer to one specific quality. What is considered hip is in constant change. The term hip is said to have originated in African American Vernacular English (AAVE) in the early 1900s, derived from the earlier form hep. Despite research and speculation by both amateur and professional etymologists, the origins of the term hip and hep are disputed. However, many etymologists believe that the terms hip, hep and hepcat derive from the west African Wolof language word hepicat, which means "one who has his eyes open".

An alternative theory traces the word's origins to those who used opium recreationally in the 19th century. Opium smokers commonly consumed the drug lying on their sides (i.e. their hips). Because opium smoking was a practice of socially-influential trend-setting individuals, the cachet it enjoyed led to the circulation of the term hip by way of a kind of synecdoche. This theory, however far-fetched, is most certainly disproven by the fact that the term hep was used until around 1940, when it was replaced in popular culture with the term hip for no apparant reason other than to make the word current again.

Early currency of the term (as the past participle hipped, meaning informed), is documented in the 1914 novel The Auction Block by Rex Beach (bolding added):

"His collection of Napoleana is the finest in this country; he is an authority on French history of that period - in fact, he's as nearly hipped on the subject as a man of his powers can be considered hipped on anything"

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Hip (slang)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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