The Origin Of Heinous

Who, If Anyone, Knows The Etymology Of The Word Heinous (Pronounced Hay-ness)? Please Respond If You Are Truly Knowledgeble As To How This Word Occured. I Will Know If You Are Kidding. I Need to Know All About this Dumb Word.

Merriam-Webster®’s Collegiate® Dictionary
Main Entry: hei·nous
Pronunciation: 'hA-n&s (guide to pronunciation)
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French haineus, from haine hate, from haïr to hate, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German haz hate – more at HATE
Date: 14th century
: hatefully or shockingly evil : ABOMINABLE

  • hei·nous·ly adverb
  • hei·nous·ness noun

Usage: Your heinous use of all capitals is appalling.

I think what BELASCO was really after was not
the etymology of the word “heinous”, but
how its usage has evolved. It seems to me that up until the early 80’s it was a
word that was almost obsolete, something you
would find in Shakespeare or perhaps in
a Massachusetts preacher’s sermon, circa 1700, but not later. Then somehow (don’t you
love it?), it got picked up into contemporary
slang; being heard in the mouths of such luminaries as Wayne and Garth of Wayne’s World fame.

I bet a lot of kids who use the word today
don’t even realize that it isn’t teen slang
but a Standard English word.

The idea sickens me, but could the word have been resurrected by this dialogue?


…from Kentucky Fried Movie.

Maybe Miek Meyers picked it up from here.

It’s hardly obsolete, but you certainly wouldn’t find it in everyday conversation. I think it’s most often used to describe horrible crimes, like Jack the Ripper, Dahmer, Gacy, etc.

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.

…this is another Moebius sig…b!s sn!qaoW jay+oue s! s!y+…
(adaptation of a WallyM7Sig™ a la quadell)

For business reasons, I must preserve the outward signs of sanity. - Mark Twain

I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that it was our good old buddy Adolf Hitler who brought the word back into vogue.

A simple Google search for the word “heinous” yields approximately 39000 hits. A search for “heinous” and “hitler” yields almost 1800 hits, or about four and a half per cent of all references found by Google. That’s a sizeable amount of references, in my opinion, to be even loosely associated with one name. But this ain’t cliometrics here, either.