Date: Tue, 31 Mar 1998 09:45:59 +0000
From: Jim Rader jrader[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]M-W.COM
Subject: Re: cool beans

I tried to run a quick Nexis search on this collocation, but the
result was hundreds of recipes that tell you to cool the beans, so I
restricted the search to earlier years. The first cite I could find was

Washington Post, Apr. 16, 1992, Maryland Weekly (Montgomery), p. M1
(byline Donna Niewiarowski)
"Students Mad About Science" --
In their informal speech words such as "hysteresis,"
"micromanipulator" and "planetesimal" collide with "cool beans,"
"Yesss!", and "all right, dude."

In the St. Petersburg (FL) Times, Feb. 3, 1993, the personality files
of the members of a local rock band used "cool beans" as a heading
for the things or people that the members held in particular favor.

Also the following from _Advertising Age_, Aug. 23, 1993, p. 5-6:
Women 18 to 24 are apt to favor "cool beans," while teen boys say
"dope" to convey the awesomeness of something. (byline Adrienne Ward

Our own files have only one cite thus far, from _Rolling Stone_,
Issue 680, Apr. 21, 1994, "Smashing Pumpkins," by Chris Mundy:
"I just want some positive vibes," explains Iha [sic], who seems to be doing
his part for the cause by substituting the phrase _cool beans_ for
any and all affirmative answers (sample question: "Hey, James, wanna
get a cup of coffee?" Answer: "Cool beans"). [p. 46]

An earlier date for the collocation is in Connie Eble's _Slang &
Sociability_, in the "Select Glossary of Student Slang":
_cool beans!_: expression of approval, admiration {19]87.

Ms. Eble, by the way, bashes Merriam-Webster's labeling of slang (p.
23), comparing it unfavorably with the labeling in American Heritage and
Random House dictionaries. I am not going to attempt to outline or
defend Merriam's slang labeling practices--for which in any event I
am not responsible in toto or individually--but I sure don't agree
with her statement that "the absence of a [slang] label implies that
the word or phrase belongs to the general unremarkable vocabulary of
English, whose use conveys no social implication." Aren't there a
variety of colloquial speech registers between full-blown slang and
"general unremarkable vocabulary"? Are _put down_ or _macho_ or
_jock_ or _schlep_--which she calls out for their lack of labeling in
the Tenth Collegiate, slang, or just informal, or in the case of
_macho_, not even informal? Just my opinion.

Jim Rader