I first heard the term “my bad” many years ago. After my initial puzzlement, I figured that it was a new way of saying “my mistake” or “I am sorry”.
Over time I have realized that “my bad” is subtly different from “I am sorry”. “My bad” is usually accompanied by a casual flick of the wrist and a sardonic smile. If the head is full of bouncy hair, there also the optional toss of the head.
It is like the person is saying, “I have apologized, now don’t make a fuss about it.”
I suspect (without actual data), that many folks rehearse saying “my bad” in front of a mirror. They also deliberately make the minor mistakes in their work, or practice spilling coffee on the others – just so that they can say “my bad” in style.
I believe that the Corporate Communication team of a large organization is soon going to release a policy and guidelines document on the use of “my bad”. This is likely to be copy/pasted across the world eventually.
More to be done:
- Clarity on the use of derivatives like – “my worse” or “my badder”? “my worst” or “my baddest”?
- Whether performance appraisal systems/ forms need to be modified to reflect the new terminology (what were your bads in the last period?)
- What are the equivalent terms in other languages and regional variations in those languages (e.g., the Hindi equivalent in Delhi is likely to be different from the Hindi term used in Lucknow)
- What is the historical origin of the term? Some say it is “my bag”.
I think I have gone on too long already – my bad!
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