Slang City Mail

Click here to get this free weekly newsletter delivered to your e-mailbox! Want to see more? Go back to All the Words main page.

July 10, 2008

Slang of the Week: tricked out (adjective phrase)
modified with many upgrades and/or decorations

Jeremiah astonished his pals at the 4-H club when he arrived his dad’s new tractor, which had been tricked out with tinted windows and spinners*.

Celebrity quote
“Last Tuesday afternoon, a FieldTurf crew scooted along on a tricked-out golf cart, sweeping up and down the field in a lawn mower's pattern, steadily dumping more ‘soil’ on top of the fake grass along the way.”
Perryn Keyes, writing for the Beaumont Enterprise

The most tricked out vehicle I’ve ever owned was the bike I had when I was eight. With a banana seat, sissy bar, handlebar tassels, designer bell and a daisy-covered basket, it was the elementary school version of a rap star’s custom Cadillac. Now that I live in a densely populated urban area devoid of off-street parking, my vehicle of choice is Zipcar**, and their idea of tricking out a car is to wrap it in a giant ad for IKEA.

Generally speaking, adding accessories and extras makes a car more valuable, though the value might depend on your personal taste. My all-time favorite episode of the MTV car makeover show Pimp My Ride, for example, showed an old Mustang convertible being tricked out to look like a rolling bordello, with metallic red paint, gold upholstery, and a gearshift encrusted with Swarovski crystals. (It also had a built-in photo booth and a bubble making machine where the exhaust should have been.)

Most often, tricked out is used about cars, motorcycles and other forms of transportation, but you can find it in some rather unexpected places. A recent Boston Globe review of Beck’s new album says that his “pioneering patchworks surely paved the way for Gnarls Barkley's tricked-out psychedelic soul.” Other stories in the news include one about dogs taking a swim class “tricked out in sporty personal flotation devices” and another in Slate in which the 1950s version of the Pledge of Allegiance is described as “newly tricked out with the phrase under God.”

I’ve seen it suggested that the term might come from the noun trick, meaning a paid session with a prostitute, because to find such work the girls dress up in eye-catching clothes. While that is mere speculation, it is interesting that when talking about cars, a synonym for this term is pimped out, from the word for a prostitute’s manager. Pimps are associated not only with flashy clothing, but also with flashy rides.

* Spinners are decorative wheel rims that spin around independently of the car’s motion.

**Zipcar is a car agency that lets city dwellers reserve cars online and rent them by the hour, picking them up from nearby designated spots on streets and in parking lots.

Take a look in our bookstore for books and DVDs on all kinds of slang! This week’s picks: This week’s pick: Yes Yes Y'All: The Experience Music Project Oral History of Hip-Hop's First Decade. Based on the "Hip-Hop Nation" exhibit at Seattle's Experience Music Project and the project's ongoing Oral History Program, this history of the beginnings of hip-hop in 1970s New York City is a lavishly illustrated and lovingly compiled homage to the many artists who contributed to the birth of what soon became and remains today, more than 25 years later a worldwide cultural institution.