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It came to the fore as a word in 2005 really, I didn't remember hearing it much before that. And then later it was used for 'men' as well.It refers to a type of youth, supposedly uncultured, maybe a bit anti-social, perhaps even violent, but certainly marked out, at least from the point of view of the critic, by very bad taste. Now, whether it's cool or not to be a chav, I couldn't say - at least, not at my age! But nobody knows who's reactivated it in recent times.It’s usually combined with the word describing the hobby, so a film buff is someone who really loves film and probably knows quite a lot about it.The word buff here implies an enthusiastic or almost obsessional interest in something.
He began his dictionary career as one of the editors of the first edition of the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, and over the past twenty years he has produced a range of his own books on the history and use of words, including the Bloomsbury Dictionary of Word Origins, the Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang and Twentieth-Century Words, a survey of the new words that came into the English language during the twentieth century.As a verb ‘to buff’ means to polish or shine something with a cloth, to give something a shiny finish.This meaning is said to come from the word buffalo, an animal whose skin was used for leather and this leather was in turn often used to polish metal objects.And youngsters, of course, knowing that grown ups are now using it as well, have decided to use other bad words in the same sort of way - I've heard from young people in recent years, the last couple of years, words like 'evil' meaning 'good', you see, or 'brutal' meaning 'good'. It's meant, of course, that the traditional sense of wicked is now being squeezed out, much as 'gay' made it difficult to use the traditional sense of 'merry' or 'cheerful' when it started to be used in reference to homosexuals.So with wicked, tone of voice is the only way to make the distinction between the old meaning and the new meaning, and even that's ambiguous sometimes, so you have to be careful, and pay very careful attention to the context. The other day, for the first time, I heard somebody say, 'wicked cool' meaning 'very cool'.