Synonyms for ‘Cool’: 21 Rad Slang Terms You Should Know

From ‘marvy’ and ‘mint’ to ‘fabbo’ and ‘supersonic,’ expand your vocabulary for what’s hip with this kicking list.

These sunglasses are cosmic.
These sunglasses are cosmic. / Anna Blazhuk/Moment/Getty Images

It’s easy to get lost in what’s uncool. From politics to the environment to making a living, so many things would fail to win Fonzie’s approval.

But let’s not forget—there’s plenty that is, in fact, cool. A gorgeous spring day. The free jazz of Sun Ra. The graphic novels of Moebius. Iced coffee. Etc. So please enjoy this list of synonyms for cool in the sense of “awesome, excellent, neato, super-duper.” They’re dope.


Black Americans have been using righteous as slang for cool since at least 1930. A 1935 use in Black newspaper The Chicago Defender describes a dope event: “Righteous opening, it was, at Dickie’s new swank spot ... The crowd rocked, swayed, and razz-a-ma-tazzed till the wee, wee hours.” This flavor of cool often has “implications of integrity or authenticity,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), so make sure your uses are legit.

Fabbo and Fab

John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr
The Beatles, otherwise known as the Fab Four. / Fox Photos/GettyImages

Found mainly in England and Australia, fabbo is an alteration of fabulous and a lexical cousin of fab. The first known use is from 1984’s The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend: “A brilliant day today. School broke up for eight fabbo weeks.” Meanwhile, fab first popped up in the late 1950s, but it was on everyone’s lips in the 1960s thanks to the Beatles, a.k.a. the Fab Four.


Early uses of boss in the sense of “excellent,” which date back to the mid-1800s, referred to folks who were great at something, like a “boss shoemaker” or “boss carpenter.” From there, the term spread to broader regions of coolness. A 1963 use by Laurence Hairston from the journal Freedomways shows how boss evolved: “That’s boss, Baby—the best I ever seen.”

Marv and Marvy

The OED pinpoints the first use of marv—a clipped version of marvelous—to 1964, though famed lexicographer Eric Partridge noted that the term had been teen slang “since the 1950s.” Thomas Pynchon used it in his 1966 book The Crying of Lot 49: “‘How's it going?’... ‘Just marv.’” Marv isn’t the only shortening of marvelous: Marvy has been around since the 1930s (though it can also be used in a sarcastic or ironic way).


First Concorde Flight for Twelve Months
The Concorde was a supersonic jet—but ‘supersonic’ can also be a synonym for ‘cool.’ / BWP Media/GettyImages

Supersonic is typically associated with science and aeronautics, but it has also been a lesser-known synonym for cool since 1947, according to the OED. A 1948 use from Popular Science Monthly is goofy but pertinent: “‘Even my mustache—I grew it specially for this show. Like it?’ Mary giggled again. ‘Supersonic!’ she said.”


Much like bad can mean “badass” or “awesome,” ill means “cool,” and has since at least the 1980s (though before it took a turn toward coolness, it also meant “bad”). The first known use in the cool sense is from the Beastie Boys’ 1986 song “Rhymin’ and Stealin’”: “Most illin-est b-boy, I got that feelin’ / ‘Cause I am most ill and I’m rhymin' and stealin’.”


This synonym for cool or awesome also comes from the realm of rap music. According to the OED, the first known use was in Jimmy Spicer’s 1981 song “Money (Dollar Bill Y’all)”: “Yo, man, them boys is dope ... This record is dope.”


The most common synonym for cool is probably awesome (a word that ameliorated quite a bit from its original meaning, “inspiring awe),” so it’s no wonder awesome spawned another item in the cool vocabulary. Awesomesauce debuted in the early 21st century in a 2001 Usenet post: “You guys are awesomesauce.” A tweet from @BKanizay in 2009 reinforced this meaning: “Awesomesauce!!! The Muppets sing Bohemian Rhapsody. The most awesome thing you’ll see today.” It’s just one excellent term coined in the 2000s.


When crunk first appeared in the 1990s, it meant “intoxicated” or “blitzed with drugs,” but its meaning quickly broadened to “awesome” or “cool.” A 2006 example from Nashville’s The Tennessean might contain a little of both meanings: “Sarah’s party was crunk.” Its original meaning can also be found in the form crunked up. Fun fact: Crunk may be a blend of crazy and drunk.


NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Releases First Images
That’s cosmic. / NASA/GettyImages

This spacey word was likely influenced by the psychedelic movement, as it was first used in this sense in the 1960s. It means something between “excellent” and “cool” and “damn!” A 2001 use from London’s The Guardian shows its exclamatory power: “Hey! Wow! Cosmic!”


You might have heard the phrase fucking mint floating around on TikTok, but mint is nothing new; it’s been recorded as an example of college slang for cool since the 1980s. A 1982 use in English Journal explains that mint was “used by these students as one would use the word great, terrific, or the like.”


Woman kicking on blue background
The phrase ‘alive and kicking’ gave us ‘kicking’ as a synonym for ‘cool.’ / Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision/Getty Images

According to the OED, the first known use of kicking as a synonym for excellent or cool is from a 1983 review in the Village Voice: “For the next three weeks I hear this band twice nightly in seven cities and in some of them the shows aren’t half as kicking as D.C., but the response everywhere is the same—nuts!” This sense of the term evolved from the phrase alive and kicking.


Once used as a word for ancient narrative poems like The Iliad and The Odyssey, epic has been an epic example of slang for more than 40 years. It can be found in a USA Today article from 1983 that listed several synonyms for cool: “When University of Florida linguistics professor David Pharies asked 350 sophomores for samples of college slang, here's what he found ... ‘Killer’ is a compliment, along with ‘mint, awesome, prime, epic, golden, [etc.]’.” A 1985 example from Surfing magazine shows that epic is cool with a side of awesomesauce: “The world’s greatest surfers challenging the world’s most epic waves.” Now that’s rad. (Less rad is an expression that was everywhere in the aughts (it first popped up in 2007), but is now old hat: epic fail.)


Mega is a small word, but it contains multitudes—and it’s a natural for the exclamatory language of coolness. The word first appeared in this sense in a 1985 New Yorker article: “I was mega, but not mega enough for the job.” You can also use it to refer to awesome ideas (“That’s a mega idea!”) or respond to a cool suggestion with, “Mega … totally mega.”


Being a master of the mystic arts is pretty cool, so it’s no wonder that wizard is a term describing coolness and excellence. According to Green’s Dictionary of Slang, the term originated in the U.S.—the earliest citation for is Sinclair Lewis’s 1922 novel Babbit—but its use really took off in Britain. The adjective is used in Evelyn Waugh’s 1932 book Black Mischief: “They ... righted themselves and stopped dead within a few feet of danger. ‘Wizard show that,’ remarked the pilot.”


The term amazeballs was first used by Chaucer—just kidding. As you’d probably expect, the first known use of this synonym for cool is relatively recent—it popped up in a 2008 YouTube video called “Jessica and Hunter/Breakfast” (above). “Oh my god, that afterhours party we went to was so sick,” Hunter says.  “I know,” Jessica responds, “it was amazeballs.”     


Like ill, sick has meant “unbelievably good” since at least the early 1980s, when Connie Eble provided the following example in her 1983 book College Slang: “The Fleetwood Mac concert was sick.”


When it was coined in the 1800s, groovy referred to things that resembled grooves or, as the OED puts it, “having a tendency to run in ‘grooves’” (in 1882, Railway News wrote that railway managers could “Get a little groovy”). Starting in the 1930s, groovy was used in reference to jazz music; according to the OED, it meant, “Playing, or capable of playing, jazz or similar music brilliantly or easily; ‘swinging’; appreciative of such music, ‘hep’, sophisticated.” From there, the term spread to mean “excellent” more generally. A 1948 issue of Cosmopolitan contains a relevant exchange: “‘I pitched a no-hit game last summer,’ said Georgie. ‘Hey, groovy,’ said Sally.”


Two people skateboarding
‘Rad’ came from skateboaring. / Stephen Zeigler/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Emerging from the world of skateboarding, this clipped version of radical has meant “cool” since the 1970s. The term originally conveyed a sense of extremity or danger, as only the riskiest stunts were considered rad. Then the term moved toward a broader meaning of excellence or coolness. As Stephen King wrote in 1978’s The Stand, “‘Rad’ and ‘gnarly’ were ways of saying a thing was good.”