What Does “Dench” Mean? This Slang Word Might Just Be The Best New Addition To The Scrabble Dictionary

Not going to lie — when news of the 6,500 new Scrabble words broke yesterday, the first thing I thought upon seeing the list was, “...'Dench?' What even is that?” Therefore, I do have to seriously pose the question: What does “dench” mean — and perhaps more importantly, where does it come from? In response to those two questions, I have good news on all fronts. First off, its meaning is easily discovered; and second off? Its origins are so amazing I almost don't know what to do with it. Seriously, you guys. This word is now my favorite slang word in the entire history of slang. Are you ready for this? I don't think you are, because to be honest, I'm not totally sure there is a way to be ready for this… but here we go.

What Does It Mean?

As we discovered yesterday, “dench,” in a word, means “excellent.” The Macmillan Dictionary specifies that it should be “used for saying that someone or something is extremely attractive, fashionable, impressive, etc.”; Urban Dictionary, meanwhile, goes with the slightly less posh-sounding “another meaning for 'sick' or nice.” If you really like something, it's dench — sort of like the dog's bollocks.

Where Does It Come From?

And this, my friends, is where a slightly puzzling word turns into an amazing. Where does “dench” come from?

From Judi Dench, of course.

Here's the deal: British rapper Lethal Bizzle apparently coined the term as we know it in 2012 (although it's probably worth noting that it appeared in one of his 2010 songs, "Dench Stamina," albeit with a slightly different meaning). While playing a video game (one of the FIFA titles, for the curious) with footballer Emmanual Frimpong, Bizzle began using the word as a way to describe well-executed plays — “What a Dench goal,” for example. Afterwards, he started using it on social media… and then someone made a t-shirt with the word printed on it, and the whole thing sort of spun out from there. Bizzle and Frimpong teamed up on a clothing line emblazoned with phrases like “stay Dench,” as well.

In 2013, Bizzle began campaigning for “dench” to become an actual, dictionary-defined word. This did eventually happen, as evinced by the Macmillan definition; however, Macmillan Dictionary's editor in chief, Michael Rundell, told The Guardian in September of that year that it “got in on its own merit, and not because a celebrity made it up.” Added Rundell, “It passed our criteria in terms of frequency and breadth of use."

And before you ask: Yes, Dame Judi is aware of the fact that she inspired one of the greatest slang words of all time. In an appearance on The Graham Norton Show in 2013, she revealed that she has her 15-year-old grandson to thank for the knowledge:

BBC on YouTube

You're right, Jude Law. It is fantastic.

That's So Dench!

And now I present to you a series of magnificent Judi Dench GIFs, because no one is more dench than Dame Judi:

And a surprise appearance by Maggie Smith:

Images: Giphy (8)