Quantifying "Hella"

Just how big is "hella"? Well, that's the problem - we know it's big, but not how big.

Twenty-year old UC Davis physics major Austin Sendek is out to change that. He's petitioning an international scientific body to standardize "hella" as 10 to the 27th power - that's one followed with 27 zeros:

It started as a joke, but Sendek's Facebook petition: to the Consultative Committee on Units, a subdivision of the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures, has drawn more than 60,000 supporters. Its chances for formal adoption by the global weights-and-measures community are hella dim, but Google was so taken with Sendek's modest proposal that it incorporated "hella" in its online calculator.

"As Google goes," Sendek says hopefully, "so goes the world."

"Hella," a term many Southern Californians find as irritating as teary-eyed renditions of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," is used mainly to make adjectives more intense, as in: "This lentil pizza is hella healthful!" It also can convey simple exuberance: "That party at Sunshine's house? Hella!''

"Hella" probably derived from "helluva" and, for reasons unknown, morphed into "hella" in the Bay Area before taking wing in the 1990s. In 2001, Gwen Stefani and her band No Doubt — out of Orange County — took it national with their mega-hit "Hella Good."

Link (Photo: Nathan Morgan/LA Times)

For our Boston readers who're scratching their heads in amusement, may I just say "wicked"?

Previously on Neatorama: Fun and Unusual Units of Measurements

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I live next to a high school in San Francisco. I actually thought 'hella' started around Oakland not southern cali. Whatever though my point is that these kids aren't allowed to say 'hella' when teachers are trying to call them in to avoid being tardy. That's when I hear things like "I ate HECKA ice cream last nite."

Dude, America. I thought we were trying to get less stupid.
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Born and raised in the east bay, I had no idea until this moment that "hella" was not a nationally--nay, UNIVERSALLY used colloquialism.

(By the way, the region that smeared "like" and "totally" into our speech has no place criticizing "hella." So there.)
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we did have this one thing we'd do when we were teens, if anyone said something was bullshit, someone else had to chime in and say,

"hella bullshit".

i don't remember how it started but it was always a funny way of defusing someone who was genuinely pissed off about something.
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