Warning: The following post contains potentially disturbing images. Sensitive readers beware!
sexy: 1 (of a person) sexually attractive; 2 sexually exciting; 3 (of a person) sexually excited; 4 exciting and interesting.
~ The Oxford English Dictionary
An innocuous little word, isn’t it? We use it every day, not always sticking to it’s denotative meaning. The Doctor, for example, often called his TARDIS “Sexy”, though I’m sure he didn’t find his time machine exciting in a sexual sense (except, perhaps, for that one episode). People sometimes refer to their cars (or if they’re wealthy enough, their yachts and private jets) as sexy, usually not meaning that the vehicle causes a stirring in their loins (unless there’s a bikini-clad model lying on top of it…)
But it’s primary use is to describe people (and certain items of clothing, usually of the see-through kind, worn by said people). I call my wife sexy all the time because to me she is. Given the nature of our relationship it is appropriate that I find her sexy and that I tell her that. I also accept that other men (and possibly women) might find her sexy, but it won’t be appropriate for them to say so (unless they want me to punch them…erm…sure).
Thing is, nowadays people seem to do just that. These days it seems okay to call people, with whom you do not have an intimate relationship, sexy. I’ve had a female relative tell me recently that I was looking sexy (and it was not a smokin’ hot cousin, which would have been okay 😉 ). I saw a mother comment on a Facebook-photo of her six-year-old son in his school uniform on the first day of term that he looked sexy. And most disturbing of all I saw someone comment on a photo of his eight-month old granddaughter in a swimsuit that she was a “sexy little angel”.
I started to wonder if the word’s name might have changed, so I went to the definitive source on such linguistic matters (you know, the guys who brought us the new meaning of “literal” and lifted “irregardless”(which even Google spellcheck no longer flags) out of nonexistence and elevated it to word-dom), but no, Merriam-Webster gave the same definition as Oxford and added the synonyms and related words, “erotic”, “hot”, “luscious”, “nubile”, “seductive”, and “sultry”, to mention just a few. You will not use any of these words to describe an eight-month-old girl or a six-year-old boy (unless you’re a really bad person) or any relative with whom you do not share a bed on a regular basis (wait, scratch that). So why is “sexy” okay?
“Cute”, sure. “Sweet”, “adorable”, “handsome”, “snazzy” – so many adjectives with no possible sexual connotation. So why do people insist on using the one adjective that has that connotation? I mean, “sexy” is derived from “sex”. Doesn’t that give you a clue?
Maybe it’s just in South Africa. Most people here don’t speak English as a first language and should probably be cut some slack for not knowing the correct usage of all the words. But using a word containing “sex” to describe your baby granddaughter? That just gives me the creeps all round.
How do you feel about people’s use of this particular adjective? What other adjectives (or any word for that matter) do people use inappropriately that drives you round the bend? Do tell.