Words Matter: Hot

by Randy Murray on June 18, 2012

A lot of words and phrases creep into common usage and it’s far too easy not to think much about what they mean.

“Hot” is one of those words.

When not talking about temperature or spiciness, hot is frequently used to refer to anything popular, interesting, or trendy.

  • This restaurant is hot right now.
  • You look hot!
  • Wow, that’s hot.

It’s a poor word to use for these things. In this usage ‘hot’ equals ‘sexy.’  In each case the speaker or writer might be trying to compliment someone or something and create positive attention, but what they’re really doing is sexualizing the object or person. That’s unnecessary and, in most cases, unwanted.

I’m reminded of this frequently when I see people on Twitter or Facebook post about how “hot” their spouse or significant other is. I really dislike this for a number of reasons. First, it’s bragging. If you have a relationship with someone who you think is sexually appealing and broadcast it to the world, then you’re implying that you have high worth and the reader or listener should be jealous. In addition, while you may consider this person sexually appealing, do you really want me to think of them this way?  In truth, most times I find the these claims to be unconvincing and it lowers my opinion of you. Don’t brag about something unless you want others to ogle your loved one and debate you on the sexual appeal of someone you care about.

Sex appeal is extremely subjective. Don’t subject the ones you love or trivialize places you like to the judgement of others in this way. Using the word hot to sexualize virtually everything is lazy and inaccurate. Avoid it whenever possible.


More Words Matter. 

The Words Matter: Hot by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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