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I have heard this word a lot in British English and I'm wondering if it can be used to describe good situations.

Thanks in advance,

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    If someone gave me a ridiculous wad of money I wouldn't object. – Hot Licks Nov 24 '18 at 21:33
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"Ridiculous" is a common adjective of praise among U.S. skateboarders and snowboarders when someone performs a difficult (seemingly impossible) trick well.

From the Urban Dictionary:

ridiculous Where something is hot, cool, or off the hook

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I like Zan700’s answer. It is the exception that proves the rule.

All the way back to Latin ridiculus has been a pejorative adjective. the ending ‘iculus’ is a diminutive (and so condescending) addition to the stem of ‘rideo’ <= I laugh>.

The poet Horace, in his Ars Poetics wittily mocks pretentiously grandiose openings to pompous and turgid and overlong epic poems

Parturient montes; nascetur ridiculus mus The mountains will go into labour; out will come a silly little mouse

Zan700’s example shows a popular ‘slang’ use of adjectives/adverbs to mean virtually the opposite of their normal meaning. ‘Wicked’ is a well known instance of this; ‘literally’ is another. Zan’s expression of how ridiculous is “off the clock”. they are ‘so good or cool..., it’s ridiculus’ or, we hear ‘it isn’t true’.

But the core meaning remains (for now) ‘laughable’, ‘not worth taking seriously’.

  • @KJO Yes, yes indeed. Aristotle himself (not famed for his sense of humour) placed comedy in the category of the ‘laughable’ (το γελοιον - geloion). – Tuffy Nov 25 '18 at 9:22

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