David in Livingston, Montana, heard a 1954 radio show in which Frank Sinatra used the phrase sweet and groovy, like a nine-cent movie. Was the word groovy really around in those days? Yes, by 1937, the term had filtered into the mainstream from the language of jazz, where groovy was a compliment applied to musicians with excellent chops. Surprisingly enough, long before that groovy meant “boring,” and applied to someone stuck in a rut. This negative sense of the word goes back to at least the 1880s. A 1920 newspaper article used groovy as a noun, referring to someone who doesn’t like anything that requires them to change their habits. This is part of a complete episode.

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