It might seem like an absurd question at first, but think about it. If you type "cool" into dictionary.com, these are the top five definitions that pop up:
- Neither warm nor very cold; moderately cold: fresh, cool water; a cool autumn evening.
- Giving or suggesting relief from heat: a cool breeze; a cool blouse.
- Marked by calm self-control: a cool negotiator.
- Marked by indifference, disdain, or dislike; unfriendly or unresponsive: a cool greeting; was cool to the idea of higher taxes.
- Of, relating to, or characteristic of colors, such as blue and green, that produce the impression of coolness.
An msnbc.com article references the 1997 book "America In So Many Words," which traces the modern slang usage of "cool" all the way back to 1947 when the Charlie Parker Quartet recorded “Cool Blues.”
A year later, Life magazine titled an article “Bebop: New Jazz School Is Led by Trumpeter Who Is Hot, Cool and Gone.” And in 1948, The New Yorker said “the bebop people have a language of their own. ... Their expressions of approval include ‘cool.”’And "cool" doesn't seem to be losing steam, either. It's still the bee's knees, and if anything, the word is as hot as ever.
Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist at the University of California at Berkeley, says the word should have faded away at the end of the ’50s. Instead, it was adopted and redefined by hippies, followed by surfers, rappers and techno-geeks. “Click here for cool stuff,” Web sites say.