I know “wicked” has informal usage that means “very good”. However, as a non-native speaker English teacher, I am wondering if I could use it in the following situations. I would appreciate it if you could give me your interpretations and opinions.

(1) To a student who gave a great presentation:
You did a wicked job!
(2) To a student who suggested a good/creative idea in a discussion:
That’s a wicked idea!
(3) to a student who has got the top score in the test.
You’re wicked!

In these situations, if I use these expressions, what nuance am I conveying? Does it sound a little, humorous, comical or half joking? That is what I really want to know.
  • DocPenfro

    Senior Member
    English - British
    As with any colloquial usage, as a non-native speaker you run the risk that your meaning will be ambiguous or else that it will be misinterpreted completely. Slang expressions have a natural life cycle: first they are the exclusive possessions of a select (youthful) few; next they become commonplace and in everyday use; finally they become hackneyed and are abandoned. A word like "wicked" in particular, has the danger that its slang usage is directly contradictory to its formal meaning.

    ps cross-posted with andygc, who has summed it up in a nutshell. Wicked job, andy!


    Senior Member
    English - American
    I would say that, in general, it is inappropriate for a teacher to use slang when communicating with students. It embarrasses them and confuses them. It blurs the line between teacher and student, which is fragile enough as it is.

    Your students will learn and use slang on their own. You might discuss slang with them, but not use it to them.

    That said, all three sentences sound just a bit contrived. I have never used wicked in this sense, but those just don't sound quite correct to me.

    EDIT: It seems to me that I usually hear wicked as an exclamation: "Wicked!" or slightly expanded: "That was wicked!" rather than ascribing it directly to a person or action: "You were wicked."
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