Death To The Word Ratchet

I remember when ratchet used to mean this:

ratch·et [rach-it] noun
1. a toothed bar with which a pawl engages.
2. (not in technical use) a pawl or the like used with a ratchet or ratchet wheel.
3. a mechanism consisting of such a bar or wheel with the pawl.
4. ratchet wheel.
5. a steady progression up or down: the upward ratchet of oil prices.

And then there’s the word wretched:

wretch·ed adjective \ˈre-chəd\
1 deeply afflicted, dejected, or distressed in body or mind
2: extremely or deplorably bad or distressing
3a : being or appearing mean, miserable, or contemptible
b : very poor in quality or ability : inferior

But over the past couple of years it has taken on a new meaning. I”ll just pull one of the meanings from Urban Dictionary, because currently there are 11 pages worth of definitions:

ratchet: adj.
a term for someone who is either 1. dirty/nasty 2. ghetto as HELL 3. being annoying 4. busted
Example 1:
*obvious prostitute walks by*
friend: she mad ratchet!!!
other friend: i know right ew

Example 2:

*kid being annoying*
girl: you bein mad ratchet!
boy: no u ratchet
*and it goes on for like 10 minutes

Example 3:

* busted car drives by *
girl: that is the most ratchet-ass car i’ve seen
boy: i’m glad we don’t have one like that


I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve slipped up a few times and used the term. But recently whenever I see it being used, whether online or hearing someone speak it, I tend to roll my eyes. Personally, I’m sick of the word. Raise your hand if you’re sick of it too.

I knew I wasn’t the only one.

At first I thought, well maybe we should find a new term for “ratchet”, but then I asked myself if there’s really any need for it? What did we use before someone birthed life into the word?

The only word that comes to mind is ghetto, and I’m not a fan of that word either. We all know that word has been abused enough as it is.

So what do you think should be done with the word? Bury it to never be used again or come up with something new?

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  • talaktochoba

    oh, puh-leez, i’ve used ratchets on my cars since twelve, and most of them say Craftsman, not HoodRat;

    the only possible thing the two share in common is both were made in the USA (my gear is old, but reliable);

    see, I’m from that time when your cup holder wore a miniskirt and she sat next to you…

  • Ms Write

    Never! Nope! I will never stop using the word “ratchet”. It just rolls off the tongue so easily. Lol

  • Nakia

    There will always be a similar word (we have words for everything) and it will always have connotations of blackness (word to @Ratchety Ann) because in America, and even internationally, Black people are the creators of new language, especially “cool” language (slang). These words and phrases only stop being used by us when they are adopted by the mainstream – non-black folks and mainstream media – and start showing up in commercials, tv shows and movie scripts (see: bling, hate, swag, “you go girl”, etc…). I enjoy ‘ratchet’ and use it ironically all the time. and i think i dated myself with ‘you go girl’.