Is it correct or usual to use pejorative adjectives when you want to say good things about something, like in the phrase:

He can do some really nasty tricks with a coin and a scarf

Of course I'm trying to say the tricks he can do are great, everybody enjoys them.

'Nasty' is the only pejorative adjective that comes to my mind and there may be better ones to be used instead - I mean, if that kind of use is really possible.


1 Answer 1


Some dictionaries have definitions for nasty like the following from Green’s:

(orig. US) first-class, exciting, particularly enjoyable or admirable.

However, this is not a very common definition in my experience and it is not in any of the “major” dictionaries that I checked. In fact “nasty trick” is one of the examples in MW under “lacking in courtesy or sportsmanship”.

There are several primarily negative words that can mean “awesome” (and are pretty common in this sense, being found in most major dictionaries) such as “wicked”, “sick”, and “killer”.

See also Inverted meanings

  • Thanks a lot for the explanation and the links.
    – Itamar
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 20:53

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