Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I've used "kinda" as a word basically meaning "kind of" just run together. I wouldn't use it formally, but I noticed that Microsoft Word's spellchecker says that it isn't a word. I searched some and it seems that I'm not the only one who uses it, but it doesn't seem to be too popular. So is it an actual word? How accepted is it?

share|improve this question
9  
Kinda is a kinda baboon. –  nohat Sep 29 '10 at 17:55
    
Yes, I noticed that, thank you. :P –  Ullallulloo Sep 29 '10 at 18:05
9  
Makes me think of the mythical alot :) hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/04/… –  Kosmonaut Sep 29 '10 at 20:07
17  
The obvious answer here of course is "Well, kinda..." –  mickeyf Sep 30 '10 at 3:20
4  
What kinda question is that! –  Armstrongest Sep 30 '10 at 18:48

7 Answers 7

up vote 18 down vote accepted

As you said, it means "kind of". It's very informal and you won't find it in dictionaries. In formal contexts, you can use "rather" with the same meaning, e.g.:

It was rather cold.

Note:

"kind of" is in the Merriam-Webster dictionary (see below). "Kinda" is not.

Definition:

1: to a moderate degree

2: in a way that approximates : more or less

Synonyms:

enough, kindly [chiefly Southern], fairly, like, moderately, more or less, pretty, quite, rather, relatively, something, somewhat, sort of

share|improve this answer
    
Yes, of course kinda is a real word. The Dictionary itself even says so. –  tchrist Feb 3 '12 at 22:51
2  
Rather, to me, seems like the opposite of kind of. Rather means "to a large degree", while kind of means "somewhat". –  kotekzot Apr 13 '12 at 20:46

The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) has 1650 incidences of kinda:

TOTAL SPOKEN FICTION MAGAZINE NEWSPAPER ACADEMIC
1650  172    1023    244      169       42

It is used overwhelmingly in fiction, and the few examples in newspapers and academic texts are almost exclusively in quotations of spoken English.

So, as the other answers have said, kinda is a pretty informal word, not used in formal texts except in quotations. I personally would only use the word in very informal situations. Its 1650 incidences in COCA are comparable to other adverbs, such as besides (1720), tight (1642), and regardless (1607). As to whether or not it is an “actual” word, I think this is pretty clear evidence that it is. As for its acceptability, it is listed in some dictionaries, such as the Random House, but not in the notoriously permissive Merriam-Webster.

share|improve this answer
    
It's also in Wordnet. –  Matthew Flaschen May 18 '11 at 19:22
    
If kinda is a word, so are wanna and gonna. But wannabe seems to have attained wordhood. –  ab2 Jun 30 at 22:09

Wiktionary contains such words.

The entry for kinda (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/kinda) includes:

kinda

  1. (colloquial) kind of

    I kinda hafta do this right now.

    That's kinda funny.

share|improve this answer
    
So do real dictionaries. –  tchrist Feb 3 '12 at 22:54

The NOAD reports that kinda is an informal contraction of kind of; it was first used in the early 20th century, and it was originally an American English alternation.

Kind of is an informal phrase for rather.

share|improve this answer
2  
Actually, 'kinda' also occurs for a more literal "kind of", eg "He was some kinda nut!" –  Colin Fine Oct 1 '10 at 15:32

It is a word in spoken language and used in private letter-writing, but has not yet reached the level of recognition as standard language just as words like gonna, or "of" for have and others. One more generation and it is in dictionaries with a note about usage and in two generations it will be a normal variant.

share|improve this answer

Authorities at Oxford and Webster do not control or shape the English Language, they only define it. In reality, the collective mind of every English speaker shapes the language. And because some words have gained popularity in some groups and not others, the language has spread out into many dialects. If you've ever read Mark Twain, you might have found his works difficult to understand as he wrote in the dialect of the Mississipi region. Now imagine if all English speakers wrote in their own dialect. We would all have to make a great effort to understand each other. Authorities of the English language basically determine what words and grammatical structures the majority of English speakers can understand, so that every English speaker can read books and other published works without trouble. However, not everyone can understand their English. My mother teaches in an inner city school and many of her students struggle in grammar because phrases like "Y'all goin' to the zoo" sound perfectly fine to them as they are grammatically correct in their dialect. So in short, "kinda" is a word, but not in the common dialect that English Authorities provide. When writing, I would consider to what audience the work is intended for. For example, if I were to write an article about the Packers and Bears rivalry, I would use it because people in the Midwestern United States commonly use it. However I would replace it with a word like "rather" or find stronger diction if writing a formal and proper essay to an English Teacher.

share|improve this answer
1  
Welcome to ELU, Matt. You have posted what looks like a legitimate comment as if it were an answer. We value the opinions of every member in our community, but reputation is one of the measures of that value. Take a look around our site, note the best answers, and do your best to emulate them so that you can build enough reputation to post comments in their proper place. –  ScotM Jun 30 at 19:54
1  
ScotM's comment is valid and provides useful advice for getting established on this site—but the question that Matt Luettgen is responding to here seems to invite opinion-based answers (that is, glorified comments) by seeking responses that necessarily hinge on the answerers' views of what constitutes a word. –  Sven Yargs Jun 30 at 20:12
    
@SvenYargs I'm surprised that comment came from you! What constitutes a word is a very important part of the question, and a very important issue for this site :) It's not really a matter of opinion type thing on this kinda site - or it shouldn't be! (Although, I've upticked your comment!) –  Araucaria Jun 30 at 20:22
1  
I read questions of the form "Is X an actual word?" as asking not "Does X exist?" (which it obviously does) but "Is using X appropriate (or legitimate)?"—in which case answerers are invited to apply their personal standards for assessing appropriateness or legitimacy, plunging their answers deep into the territory of opinion (in my opinion). –  Sven Yargs Jun 30 at 20:46
    
@SvenYargs Hmmm, but words have phonetic qualities that random lumps of syllables don't have. They also have syntactic properties too. So for example you might be able to modify one of the words in a group to show that they weren't one word :) –  Araucaria 2 days ago

'Kinda' is not a word in the English language. It is a contraction of the words 'kind of' and is most definitely considered slang.

share|improve this answer
1  
Ah, if it's not a word then what is it? It's not a suffix or prefix, it's not a phrase... –  curiousdannii Jun 19 at 6:49
    
But you said it yourself - slang. A slang word. Jdsknskdnkjsdf is not a word. However pwned is. –  Konrad Gajewski Jun 19 at 11:16
1  
Your faith in the American educational system is quite immaterial, for several reasons: 1) those who say that kinda ‘is not a word’ are the uneducated ones; and 2) those who have given reasons why kinda is in fact a word come from more places than just America. The fact that a word is a contraction of two words historically doesn’t mean it’s not a word. Or would you also claim that not (which is historically a contraction of no less than three words) is ‘not a word’? –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Jun 19 at 17:29
    
The accepted definition of word: noun 1 A single distinct meaningful element of speech or writing, used with others (or sometimes alone) to form a sentence and typically shown with a space on either side when written or printed. As the legitimate answers reveal, it seems like kinda fits that description as a meaningful element of speech and writing. –  ScotM Jun 30 at 19:58

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.