Horrible and Terrible

It is common knowledge that today’s youth make up words, most of them being silly combinations such as frenemies (noun; friends who are actually enemies), chillax (verb; to relax while chilled), and staycation (verb; to vacation for a long period of time in the same location). One word that nobody seems to remember, however, is the adjective herrible (being both horrible and terrible). Herrible may be used in cases where heinous, hideous, atrocious and vicious would normally fit. For example, a classmate of mine named Clayton had nearly copyrighted the term “heinous”.

He said it nearly nine times a day. When that vocabulary term came up, when we had to write the meaning, we all wrote “Clay” and got in trouble for being rude. He didn’t mind – he was permanently attached to the word. However, one day we decided Clay needed to spice up his word choices. Our biology teacher was preparing an incubator just this morning, in fact. We asked why.

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“Someone found some barn owl eggs, and two of them hatched! We’re going to try and raise them until we can get the Department of Fish and Wildlife to get them,” she exclaimed, already preparing hamburger. Clay summed up our opinion. “If you get baby owls, they will eat stinky meat or mice and screech and squawk all day and it will just be heinous.” “Herrible, just herrible,” Nick and I corrected. Clay thought we were agreeing with him and nodded. Another such time herrible can be used is in place of “Oh, that’s just terrible!” such as an amusing, if sadly self-depreciating, joke.

Take the time my friend Peter purposely mixed up Dan and Wyatt’s names. “Hello, Dan,” he said to Wyatt. To Dan he said, “See you at track, Wyatt.” His motives for this confusion were unclear, but Donald, a senior, passed by in that moment. “Peter, what the heck,” he said, by way of question.

“Peter has decided I’m Wyatt,” Dan explained. “And that Wyatt is me.” Donald scoffed. “What a riot! Like you’re Wyatt. That’s like saying I’m on a diet.” Donald, being much heavier than the rest of us, had just made fun of himself in his momentary poem.

“Donald, that’s just herrible,” we said, hoping he did not secretly feel bad. “Did you know it? You’re a poet,” Peter offered. “You bet I did, you goofy kid. Now be off, whilst I scoff.” Then Donald, unperturbed, marched on his way to track practice. Lastly, herrible can be used in place where an honest-to-goodness plain-old terrible will do.

This incident also involves Peter, as well as myself and my friend Morgan. Morgan had just explained to everyone that Portland is rated one of America’s “Top Cities” (whatever that meant). She explained to us that it was also has one of the highest kidnapping rates. “That’s herrible!” I exclaimed, thinking of all the people who go to Portland thinking it a nice Top City, only to get kidnapped. “We should find a way to prevent this kind of thing,” Morgan agreed. Peter offered his professional advice.

“Don’t visit Portland if you’re rich or a girl.” You see, herrible can be applied to nearly any situation, which is why it’s so wonderful. It’s diverse, and can go anywhere from truly serious to lightheartedness. I advise widening your peers’ vocabulary by adding this word to it. However, don’t use it in an English class, as it is not classified as an actual word. Your teacher may mark you down, and then your final grade will be just plain herrible.