General Dankness.

This Quartzy piece by Annaliese Griffin is basically clickbait, but it’s another reminder of how out of touch with the current state of my language I am; apparently the word dank has developed all sorts of trendy uses:

[Marijuana:] Weed is dank’s breakout moment from stolid adjective to countercultural buzzword—and a wholesale flip from an indication of mild unpleasantness to utmost excellence. A dank basement is not a good thing; dank bud is highly desirable. […]

[Beer:] Though Heineken should definitely be described as skunky, no craft beer fan would call Heineken dank. Very hoppy, cloudy IPAs are dank, which seems to be both a reference to their generally high alcohol content and their funky, green resinous flavors. This style has become known as a New England IPA, though it is produced all over the country, and there appears to be a cottage industry in finding ways to incorporate “dank” when naming such a beer. […]

[General dankness:] In certain circles (read: young bros), calling something “dank” is just the newest way to say it’s cool. This is a subtle shift from calling high quality weed dank—you’re not differentiating a good product from a bad here, you’re just saying that something rules. If this doesn’t roll off the tongue naturally, best to just let this one pass you by. In a profile of Jonah Reider “the dorm-room chef” he reportedly texts a buddy to let him know that the bone marrow they had been discussing turned out to be, “so dank.” Enough said?

She winds up with “dank memes,” and I will sign on to her parting remark: “I’m not even going to wade in here because truly, a dank meme is in the eye of the beholder.” Are you familiar with this mot of the moment? (Thanks, Martin!)


  1. Yes, I can certify that this slang is current in at least some of my circles.

  2. This is reminiscent of “this is good shit” from my youth when talking about marijuana.

  3. In certain circles (read: young bros)

    Why I’m not interested in adding this to my vocabulary.

  4. Whilst I have never inhaled, my daughter and I caught a whiff of a duo skulking under an embankment during a riverwalk. The scent wafting from yon embankment was definitely … dank.

  5. I have spent a little time on reddit; enough to come across “dank memes” and infer that these are bad, but not enough to realise that dank=bad was an ironic inversion of dank=cool (a sense I was unaware of until now) rather than the old-fashioned dank=bad of my youth.

  6. @mollymooly: In my understanding, “dank” is a positive descriptor of a meme – albeit with a certain ironic awareness of the ridiculousness of meme culture being implied.

  7. I definitely remember people sharing posts from “Bernie Sanders’ Dank Meme Stash” on Facebook in 2016.

  8. Dank was pot 20 years ago when I was in high school. And the term “dank” to mean cool, I seem to remember existing then as well. Certainly not a new trend!

    (And incidentally, get yourself down to Tree House, pride of Western Mass., for some dank IPAs!)

  9. References to “dank memes” are extremely commonplace among the youth (such as my fourteen-year-old and ten-year-old), and the term seems to be used unambiguously positively, without any trace of irony (or, in many cases, any idea where the “dank” originated).

    Other positive uses of “dank” are much, much rarer.

  10. In my office I’m known as a writer of dank memos.

  11. @Brett: Hmm, there might be a Millennial vs. Gen Z difference there.

  12. January First-of-May says

    I’ve seen the phrase “dank memes” a few times, but I honestly have no idea what they are, and, IIRC, the one time I tried to ask somebody, the reply was so extremely uninformative as to suspect that they either had no conception of anyone not knowing what they are, or not quite sure what exactly they were either.

    (Probably the latter – that is, it was one of those intuitive things for them, and I might as well have asked them how to use the definite article.)

  13. I mostly associate “dank memes” with alt-rightish ha-ha-only-serious racist jokes involving pictures of Pepe, but I do occasionally see cases where the adjective seems to have developed a wider usage. Only online though – I have yet to hear “dank” in real life in any sense.

  14. J.W. Brewer says

    “Dank memes” sounds very 2016 to me. I’m surprised the young people haven’t moved on to newer expressions, abandoning that one to the old and out of it.

  15. (And incidentally, get yourself down to Tree House, pride of Western Mass., for some dank IPAs!)

    But I don’t like dank IPAs!

  16. The whole hipster trend in super-hoppy beers is repugnant to me and I want it to go away.

  17. It seems like the craze for super-hoppy beers is fading a bit, to be replaced by a new emphasis on sours.

  18. I don’t like those either! Why isn’t just plain tasty beer good enough?

  19. Michael Eochaidh says

    It could be worse; most gluten free beer is terrible. Thank god for red wine.

    When I could drink real beer, I liked both sour beers and hoppy beers. I do prefer my hoppy beers to be more balanced than the trend (at least as it was five years ago).

  20. When we bought our house the previous owners left a cool, humid basement room fitted with wine racks but stocked with only a small supply of Canada Dry ginger ale and gluten-free beer, which alas was horrible. Had they left a hoppy IPA we could have had the dankest cellar in town.

    My brother-in-law home brews beer. And very well. Last year he planted hops to add to his brews. I wonder whether that was part of the appeal of hoppy IPAs. Crafters can’t exactly put a crop of rye in the backyard but hops are within reach and give an extra frisson of artisanry.

  21. Combining two themes, do people still graft hops to marijuana stems to produce psychoactive hops that won’t attract unfavorable attention in the garden? Double dankness.

  22. Every few years, there is a new word for “good.”


    Better than “awesome” at any rate.

  23. Greg Pandatshang says

    Does anyone really say “dank” as in “dank memes” unironically? Does anyone who would otherwise be inclined to call a meme dank say anything unironically?

  24. ha-ha-only-serious

    Now that is an expression I need to know.

  25. David Marjanović says

    Whoa. I’ve come across dank meme stashes. Now you’re telling me they were dankmeme stashes all along? I always interpreted them as they’re spelled, meaning the whole stash is dank, which could have all kinds of ironic and self-ironic interpretations.

  26. Why isn’t just plain tasty beer good enough?

    Because there is no such thing? Beer drinking is a competition in who can consume the most disgusting liquids, as far as I can tell. Even the people I know who drink (I don’t) don’t seem to actually like it.

  27. David Eddyshaw says
  28. There’s a reason why beer is usually served cold.

    But I actually like beer — on the rare occasions where I’m in the mood for alcohol, I’ll pick a good old-fashioned Imperial Stout over most other things on offer. Room temperature is fine.

  29. January First-of-May says

    From my own experience, most beer tastes awful, but really good beer can actually taste kind of nice.
    I’ve encountered such beer about two or three times in my life; one of those was the local specialty in a Lviv bar shortly before the Crimean unpleasantness, one was a random bottle of cheap tequila-flavoured beer drink (and I didn’t like it when we found another bottle of the exact same brand a few years later), and I don’t recall much about the third one at all, if it even happened.

    That said, I don’t like most wines either; it might just be a general negative reaction to alcohol (the only alcoholic drinks I liked were the ones with loads of sugar).

  30. David Marjanović says

    Even the people I know who drink (I don’t) don’t seem to actually like it.

    Oh, I know plenty of people who really do like (certain kinds of) it. But once when this discussion happened, someone said something to the effect of “what, no, nobody likes beer, you don’t drink beer for the taste, you drink it to get drunk”.

    Me, I wouldn’t know. All beer (alcohol-free included) is seriously disgusting, so is all wine, and I see no point in getting drunk…

  31. Oh, I know plenty of people who really do like (certain kinds of) it.

    Me included. I used to think of it as basically a cheap and reasonably palatable means of getting a buzz on, but then I was introduced to Belgian beer and realized it could be as delicious and complex as, say, Burgundy (to me the ne plus ultra of wines).

  32. “On a world where a common table implement is a little device with which you crack the ice that has formed on your drink between drafts, hot beer is a thing you come to appreciate.” —Genly Ai, The Left Hand of Darkness

  33. Greg Pandatshang says

    Speaking of dankness and frog nazi memes, there’s the ongoing saga of Count Dankula:

  34. Burgundy may be ne plus ultra. But Bordeaux is sui generis. (A distinction with a difference germane.)

  35. I am now expecting web sites on how to build a great web site to present a layout that starts off with:

    Your dank logo goes here

    [I spoke too soon, it’s already out there, although a dank logo seems to be one that uses the word ‘dank’]

  36. I would gloss dank memes as ‘memes that are extremely funny when high, but for most people not especially funny otherwise’, i.e. it signifies a specific kind of humor, not its overall quality.

    …now standing by for semantic analyses of birb as distinct from bird.

  37. Ah. Like whole Cheech & Chong movies, then?

  38. David Marjanović says

    birb is smol

  39. smol birb is smol, or am I dating myself now?

  40. David Marjanović says

    birdsrightsactivist is still tweeting, the latest occurrence of BIRB having happened on 21 February and of birg on 13 March.

  41. Then there are SMOFs, who are certainly not smol though they may be birbs (i.e. tsiks).

  42. “It seems like the craze for super-hoppy beers is fading a bit, to be replaced by a new emphasis on sours.”

    Do try to keep up – sours have now been replaced by New England IPAs, or NEIPAs, which are basically beers designed to both taste like and look like mango juice.

    Curious linguistic aside: in large parts of the world, particularly the Baltic, as craft beer has taken off, and American-style IPAs have become increasingly popular, the locals call them ‘Eepas’.

  43. beers designed to both taste like and look like mango juice

    That might actually be a virtue in some eyes. I like mango juice more or less (there are other juices I like better) and detest the very smell of beer. Alas, I don’t drink:

    Shevek went on reading the papers. He read that he was a towering giant of a man, that he was unshaven and possessed a ‘mane,’ whatever that was, of greying hair, that he was thirty-seven, forty-three-and fifty-six; that he had written a great work of physics called (the spelling depended on the paper) Principals of Simultaneity or Principles of Simiultany, that he was a goodwill ambassador from the Odonian government, that he was a vegetarian, and that, like all Anarresti, he did not drink. At this he broke down and laughed till his ribs hurt. “By damn, they do have imagination! Do they think we live on water vapor, like the rockmoss?”

    “They mean you don’t drink alcoholic liquors,” said Pae, also laughing. “The one thing everybody knows about Odonians, I suppose, is that you don’t drink alcohol. Is it true, by the way?”

    “Some people distill alcohol from fermented holum root, for drinking. They say it gives the unconscious free play, like brainwave training. Most people prefer that, it’s very easy and doesn’t cause a disease. Is that common here?”

    “Drinking is. I don’t know about this disease. What’s it called?”

    “Alcoholism, I think.”

    “Oh, I see…But what do working people do on Anarres for a bit of jollity, to escape the woes of the world together for a night?”

    Shevek looked blank. “Well, we …I don’t know. Perhaps our woes are inescapable?”

    “Quaint,” Pae said, and smiled disarmingly.

  44. birdsrightsactivist is still tweeting, the latest occurrence of BIRB having happened on 21 February and of birg on 13 March.

    Still tweeting several years later; on Nov 10:

    introducin BirbU, at bird unversinary we not afraid 2 be “plolitically uncorrrect” such as sayin there only 1 gender and it’s birds.

  45. Smol Web n. the collection of websites that can be read using Lynx, Links, or Dillo (i.e. ignoring JS and CSS).

    Smol Internet n. the Smol Web plus Gopher, Gemini, Finger, and (marginally) Whois sites.

  46. David Marjanović says

    Still tweeting several years later; on Nov 10:


    I also recommend the pinned tweet, and the one from Nov. 7th:

    thanx 4 admitting big birb IS the govermnent. go home theodore we make the lawes now.

  47. Interestingly, the Canadian-American senator from Texas’s given names are Rafael Edward.

  48. John Cowan says

    But I don’t like dank IPAs!

    Wait, what? This is Hattiland! We all think the IPA is dank (or isn’t dank, depending) around here!

  49. Brett: People get to choose their names. Don’t be an asshole like him-who-shall-not-be-named (by us).

  50. Keith Ivey says

    I think Brett’s point was that Ted Cruz’s name isn’t Theodore as in the birb tweet.

  51. Keith Ivey : I have no idea what “birb” means and I don’t use twitter, sorry.

  52. Keith Ivey says

    I’m talking about the text in David Marjanović’s comment immediately above Brett’s, which he was presumably replying to. There’s no reason to believe Brett was suggesting that Cruz calling himself “Ted” was illegitimate.

  53. I’m not sure I understand what you’re trying to communicate. Sleep on it for a few hours or days.

    EDIT: Rafael, which is a name of his, is calling himself Theodore. That somehow upsets you? Just figure out what you’re trying to say, then comment again. I hate the idiot as much as the next guy, but I don’t understand your comments.

  54. J.W. Brewer says

    Rafael Edward -> Edward -> Ted would seem to be the same unexciting and non-novel pattern as that of long-time Kings County (= Brooklyn, N.Y.) District Attorney Charles Joseph Hynes, known to his intimates as Joe Hynes. Except that Joseph had not, at birth, been Hynes’ middle name. Rather he had in childhood somehow picked up the nickname Joe first and then eventually changed his legal middle name to fit it.

  55. J.W. Brewer says

    More generally, there seems to be some confusion (possibly on the part of those who are not L1 Anglophones) about the nickname “Ted,” which substitutes for “Edward” at least as often as it does for (the historically less common) “Theodore.” To stick only to other members of the U.S. Senate in recent decades, Ted Kennedy was formally Edward Moore Kennedy and Ted Kaufman was formally Edward Emmett Kaufman. On the other side of the Atlantic, the “British youth subculture” sense of “Teddy Boy” came from their supposedly “Edwardian” fashion sense. Growing up, I knew a “Ted” who had “Edward” as his middle name rather than first name although in adult life he seems to have ditched that, at least in professional contexts, in favor of the first name he did not use in boyhood.

  56. V, you seem to be assuming you’re automatically right and everybody else is wrong. “I’m not sure I understand what you’re trying to communicate” doesn’t mean the other guy is an idiot or an asshole. A little humility goes a long way.

  57. Keith Ivey says

    V, no one is upset, except possibly you. Rafael Edward Cruz is calling himself Ted, not Theodore, and no one here is complaining about that. A tweet quoted here seemed to be referring to him incorrectly as Theodore, and Brett commented on that.

  58. David Marjanović says

    I have no idea what “birb” means

    Let me google that for you.

    When Is a Bird a ‘Birb’? An Extremely Important Guide

    The internet meme has been around for seven years now, so it’s high time we establish some ground rules.

  59. I was referring to Ted Cruz as an idiot, not someone commenting here?

  60. I wasn’t quoting your word but referring to your attitude: “Sleep on it for a few hours or days. […] Just figure out what you’re trying to say, then comment again.” That’s treating others as idiots.

  61. languagehat: Fair enough, sorry.

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