It’s not enough that Judi Dench is one of Britain’s leading actresses, or that she’s won gazillions of screen and stage awards, or that she’s been knighted. Her brilliance is now being etched into the English language itself.
“Dench” is now a widely used British slang term with a meaning close to that of street jargon such as “sick” or “fly.”
Generally, when people say that someone’s name is synonymous with some form of genius, they’re speaking figuratively, but in Dench’s case, her name is literally synonymous with “cool.”
It turns out that not all English-speaking people in Britain got the memo, however, as a somewhat baffled Jude Law demonstrates on tonight’s Graham Norton Show (Sat., March 9, 10:15pm/9:15c). But that most dench of thespians, Dame Judi herself, was on hand to explain.
The etymology of the term apparently finds its origins in the work of rapper Lethal Bizzle, who began using it in his songs.
“Dench can mean a good or a bad thing depending on the context you use it in. It can be: ‘That girl looks dench!’ or ‘Your breath smells dench!’” Bizzle’s manager Nadia Khan told the Guardian in 2011.
And if there are those among you for whom no new word’s definition is complete without the demonstration of its use in a sentence, here’s Lethal B using it in song on BBC radio:
This is really just leading up to what we’ve know all along: pretty soon, we’re sure, if you look up the word “cool” in the dictionary, you’ll see Judi Dench’s picture…