Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I Say 'Mad Props!' What Do You Say?

A recent New York Times Saturday crossword puzzle, reputedly the most difficult of the week, led off with the definition “Big-time kudos,” the solution to which (I learned a very long while later) was MADPROPS (you have to figure out for yourself if the answer is one word or more).  I stared at this entry, trying vainly to make sense of it. Did it mean a wild proposition of some sort? Did it have something to do with Madison Avenue P. R. opportunities?  Was it a deranged stagehand?

A trip to the trusty on-line Urban Dictionary (no point bothering Webster or Oxford with this one) explained that I am just not hip enough to have come across this very common expression, on the tip of everyone’s tongue, except mine.  It means, as the clue “Big-time kudos” clearly tells you, “thank you” or “congratulations” as an expression of appreciation or respect.  One of the contributors to this web site suggests the etymology is mad=extreme and props=support. This site also insists that the expression originated with the character of Margot in the Broadway musical Legally Blonde when she exclaims (and how!) to Elle, “Mad props!  He’s the campus catch! You’re a perfect match””

Another web site, The Maven’s Word of the Day, sounds it as if it knows what it’s talking about when it says the phrase has its origin in the hip-hop culture of young African-Americans in the 1990s.  Mad, says the maven, is either an adjective meaning “plenty of,” as in mad publicity, or an adverb meaning “extremely”, as in mad coolProps is a shortened form of "proper respect or credit."

While we’re at it, we might take a look at the word kudos.  It’s from the Greek kydos, and it means “fame, prestige, renown, praise for achievement.”  Kudos is a singular noun, though lots of people think it’s a plural and may extend to you a single kudo.  Not only does that sound a little chintzy, there’s technically no such thing as a kudo.

Trying to be as hip as the next guy (whoever the next guy might be), the Bard of Buffalo Bayou wants to get into the swing of things and so he extends “mad props” to one and all, especially the following.

    You’ve had visits from the stork, glad pops?
    Mad props!
    You’ve decided to go straight, bad cops?
    Mad props!
    You’ll cheer up when you become less vain, sad fops.

    Mad props!
    You like alumni dances they call grad hops?
    Mad props!
    You Scots all like to wear plaid tops?
    Mad props!
    You cleaners using Swiffers where once you had mops—
    Mad props!

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