ENGLISCH/803: Questions to Mrs. Gobbledygook (143) pretty happening (SB)


143. What is meant by "pretty happening"?

Dear Mrs Gobbledygook

Some time ago I read an interview with US actor George Clooney (ER-Emergency Room) and he said: "I thought I was pretty happening, because I had good TV hair". What does "happening" mean in this context. I suppose it is considered informal, but nevertheless I have to admit that I am unable to translate this properly. Can you give me an advice?

Yours sincerely

Josef Hengstenstedt (from Munic, Germany)


Dear Mr Hengstenstedt

In this phrase, the US actor George Clooney describes how he used to feel about himself. Clooney uses a very popular slang expression. "Happening" people are people who are popular and extremely cool. If you think you are "happening" or at least "pretty happening", you are quite impressed with yourself - you think you're wonderful, brilliant, kind of out of this world. And that is what Clooney really thinks of himself. The word happening now appears as an adjective in many different informal contexts. The most popular expression is "happening place", which is a place (a bar, a house or a city for example) where there is lots of action, fun and excitement. But if I were you, I wouldn't use the expression unless I am pretty sure, it is absolutely happening to do so.

Bye now

Mrs Gobbledygook

3. September 2008