Latest Issue

As David Robins reminds us in the current issue, the “cult of cool” has become the dominant ethic among young people in developed countries. If so (and Robins may be right, even if he overestimates the connection between the “cool” mentality and knife crime), it is an interesting example of the power of language: of how a mere word, and one with an incredibly vague meaning, can give rise to an ethos to which millions subscribe.

Linguists are uncertain when the word “cool,” in its modern sense, originated. Clearly, the basic idea is metaphorical. Behaving in a “cool” way is…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect