17

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?

19

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

  • Yes, of course kinda is a real word. The Dictionary itself even says so. – tchrist Feb 3 '12 at 22:51
  • 5
    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
16

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, including Random House and Merriam-Webster.

7

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.

4

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.

  • 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
1

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.

1

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.

  • 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 '15 at 19:54
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    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 '15 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 - Not here any more. Jun 30 '15 at 20:22
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    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 '15 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 - Not here any more. Jul 4 '15 at 6:41

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