HEY: The thing I’m about to talk about originated in the black community, in AAVE, and was later co-opted by others. I’m going to analyze it, because I think it’s interesting, but this isn’t something I invented. I just think if we’re going to be using this, we should understand what it means and where it came from.

One of my hobbies is attempting to pronounce things I see on the internet out loud. “Lol”, “fffffff”, and “upside down sad face emoji” have all posed unique challenges – but there is a purpose to this exercise beyond mere amusement. The odd ways we spell and phrase things online aren’t accidents. They’re attempts to make up for the paucity of nuance available in written communication. Mixing some 1’s in with your exclamation points conveys reckless excitement. Omitting a period at the end of a sentence conveys a careless coolness. But over the past few months I have noticed a relatively new construction that merits further study. I call it “the sexual c.”

If you have not seen someone or something described as “thicc” yet, then I don’t know how you’re reading this because you clearly do not have the internet. For the uninitiated, however, “thicc” is a positive descriptor usually applied to any particularly bodacious physical assets. The word has expanded beyond its original meaning however, and has since been applied to everything from sandwiches to dog butts with equal relish. No matter the context, the word “thicc” indicates that whatever is being described is so good as to cause some kind of sexual arousal.

This is only the beginning, however. Other words, such as “snacc” and “succ” have undergone a similar phonetic transformation, with the same results. The question is, why? Why are we taking the k’s out of our words and replacing them with c’s? While I cannot see into the minds of those pioneering linguists who first dared to do it, I have theories.

First, it should be noted that this phonetic transformation only works on words that end in “[vowel]ck.” Attempting to transform a word ending in different consonants would render the result unrecognizable, and attempting the transformation on a word with additional consonants before the “ck” would disrupt the simplicity which gives the sexual c its effect (see below.) Also, simply adding a “c” onto the end of a word that already ends in c (like “epicc”) just looks dumb. Don’t be that guy.

When you remove the “k” at the end of a word and replace it with a “c”, several things happen. First of all, the hardness and finality of the word melts away. “K” is an abrupt, unambiguous sound. “C” is more subtle, changing its pronunciation based on context. Furthermore, while “cc” is a fairly common phoneme in “standard” English, it is never used to end words. When it does appear, in words such as “success” and “access”, it often manifests as the combination of one hard and one soft sound. In other words, such as “occupation”, it is a hard sound closer to how it is pronounced in words like “thicc”. The determining factor is the vowel that follows the “cc”. However, in words that end in “cc”, there is obviously no following vowel, thus creating an ambiguity that may contribute to a sense of anticipation in the reader. This ambiguity, this anticipation, this tension between hardness and softness … well, perhaps you can see for yourself why double c’s might be sexier than a c and a k.

What’s more, a “cc” ending is more extensible than a “ck” ending. Because it is symmetrical, it has no clear ending. Even the shape of the letters hints more at continuation than the sharp angles of the “k.” This allows modifications such as “thi c c” and “thicccccccc.” With no explicit phonetic endpoint, the word can theoretically go on for a very long time – another characteristic that might be desirable in a sexual encounter.

So you see, the sexual c injects horniness into a modified word by infusing it with some of the characteristics of luxurious, playful, unhurried sex. On a phonological level, the simple substitution of a “k” with a “c” creates an entirely different look, sound, and – dare I say – mouthfeel. Above, I have mentioned several examples of modified words I have seen in the wild, but to close out this essay, allow me to list some constructions I have yet to see, but would very much like to:

fucc licc dicc slicc bacc (as in “bb got bacc”) sacc

and of course …


Thancs for reading ~~~