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February 14, 2008
Slang of the Week: dap (adjectives)
well dressed

With his tricolor cap and his jacket with straps, Nathaniel thought he was a pretty dap chap.

Celebrity quote
“Dap, you know from back in the day, when I see a man dressed up looking cool, with a smooth suit and tie on, you say he looks dapper. The Dap Kings are the king of cool.”
-Singer Sharon Jones, talking about her backup band

The Dap Kings came into the spotlight because of their association with Amy Winehouse. That troubled singer, who won five Grammy awards on Sunday, broke out last year with her Dap King-enhanced hit “Rehab.” In that song, she explains, “They’re tryin’ to make me go to rehab/I said no, no, no.” (Ironically, much of the publicity she’s received this year has been for going into a drug rehabilitation program.)

Winehouse herself is not known for high fashion. Sporting a gigantic retro beehive hairdo and eyeliner that makes Catwoman look subtle, she was recently named the second worst dressed woman of 2007 by Mr. Blackwell. (Former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham was first.) However, the suit and tie clad Dap Kings, who usually back R & B singer Sharon Jones, are very dap.

Dap is a short form of the Standard English dapper, but it’s rarely used. The related term Dapper Dan, describing an overly fashion-focused man, is probably better known because of its appearances in pop culture. In the 1970s, Dapper Dan was an American doll with buttons, snaps and ties; it taught young children how to get dressed. More recently, an item of the same name was the object of George Clooney’s desire. In the 2000 movie O Brother! Where Art Thou?, the vain character he plays is obsessed with a fictitious hair styling cream called Dapper Dan.

Take a look in our bookstore for books and DVDs on all kinds of slang! This week’s pick: Straight from the Fridge, Dad: A Dictionary of Hipster Slang.