“Hella” just became hella official. Merriam-Webster added the Bay Area slang term to its dictionary this week.
On Wednesday, April 20 Merriam-Webster greeted their followers with this announcement.
The news was obviously welcomed by Bay Area natives and the millions of people who have been using the word for decades. The Oxford Dictionary added “hella” to their rolls back in 2002 to much lesser fanfare. Twitter wasn’t invented yet.
According to SFGate.com, the word is thought to have been born in the late-70s in Oakland. The word gained popularity in the early 90s when rappers like E-40 and Mac Mall started using it in their lyrics.
In case you haven’t adopted “hella” into your vernacular yet, Merrian-Webster identifies the word as a adverb meaning “very, extremely.” However, the Oxford Dictionary [which added it in 2002] also considers the word an determiner meaning “a large amount of.”
Here is an example from E-40’s 2015 hit “Choices”:
Loyal to my soil, not a faker? (yup)
Bust moves, hella active in the streets? (yup)
Here is another from G-Eazy’s 2014 song “Lotta That”:
Alcohol and weed, really anything you need
Best believe we got a lotta that
Studio with hella purp
I just put in hella work now look at where it got us at
The addition of “Hella” is joined by “athleisure” [fashionable workout clothes that can be worn outside of the gym, think Beyonce’s Ivy Park line] “FOMO” [an acronym for “Fear Of Missing Out”]. And believe it or not, “TMI” [Too Much Information] is just now being added as well.