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August 31, 2012

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xkcd recently had a comic based around the word sketchy (well, around the word sex, actually). I didn't get it at the time as I was completely unaware of the new meaning.

http://xkcd.com/1101/

I recall the common use of "sketchy" and "sketch" among American college students on both coasts by at least eight years previous to that documentation. It was the closest equivalent study abroad students could find for the Irish-English "dodgy". (In the situation I recall, the Californian was more likely to say "sketchy", the New Yorker "sketch" but nobody thought of it as particularly new or slangy word.)

Re history of "sketchy": I wrote a column about sketchy and skeevy in 1999 (having learned them from my teenage daughter), so at least in the Northeast they were already in wide circulation (among non-meth users). I'm surprised the Sketch folks wouldn't have the slang sense as the dominant meaning.

sketchers, anyone?

Patricia: Do you mean Skechers brand shoes? I've been unable to verify the origin of that name despite several attempts to do so. See comments on my June 2011 Visual Thesaurus column, "Sketchy Branding": http://www.visualthesaurus.com/cm/candlepwr/sketchy-branding/

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