First "evar" evar?
January 18, 2007 4:40 PM   Subscribe

When did people start saying "best ___ evar" or "worst ___ evar"? Was there a single notable case that sparked the trend, or did it start happening more slowly without a specific origin? Standard etymology searches have turned up nothing.
posted by scottreynen to Writing & Language (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I thought it originated with the comic book store owner on The Simpsons, but I could be wrong.
posted by hazelshade at 4:41 PM on January 18, 2007

Probably after the Comic Book Guy. The mispelling of 'ever' seems to be an Internet-specific trope.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:42 PM on January 18, 2007

I would assume it's from The Simpsons: the Comicbook Guy's intonation of "Worst Episode Ever". No source, just a hunch.

On preview: yeah!
posted by Paragon at 4:42 PM on January 18, 2007

See also.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 4:48 PM on January 18, 2007

The wikipedia entry for "evar" redirects to Leet, as in Leetspeak, so it seems to confirm that it started on the Internet.
posted by lou at 4:53 PM on January 18, 2007

If you're talking about the "EVAR" part of it, I think that may derive from elsewhere, as it is commonly presented in a different manner than the Comic Book Guy's delivery.

Comic Book Guy derived: "Worst. Post. Ever."
Other use: "BEST SITE EVAR!!1"

For some reason, I always get the mental picture of "EVAR" as being spouted forth from some screechy teenaged girl on MTV, talking about "BEST friends for-EVAR" and "OMFG, best Brittany CD EVAR!!!"

At least, that's my take.
posted by krippledkonscious at 4:59 PM on January 18, 2007

I'd always assumed it was more the elites of the net mocking the so called n00bs and their over-enthusiastic promotions of their own favourite things evar.
posted by Phire at 5:12 PM on January 18, 2007

im pretty sure the spelling came from the internet classic Jeff K ala Something Awful

I dont have time to dig up an example, but im confident in my assumption :)
posted by Satapher at 5:21 PM on January 18, 2007

heres about a million EVARS via JeffK
posted by Satapher at 5:27 PM on January 18, 2007

The Simpsons episode in question (4F12) aired Feb 1997. My gut tells me the net-specific use of "evar" is a true variant/child of the "*est foo ever" meme, and thus didn't gain traction until sometime after the Simpsons quote became stock.

Some datapoints from USENET (via Google Groups):

- Use of ironic deployment of "evar" can be cited at least back to '94. There may be evidence farther back, but there's a lot of noise—evar.h references in coding forums, mostly—and the Google search interface is not great for this raw hunt. No sign of the fixed expression in question, though.

- Kibo gets in on it, which cements the net irony credibility. 1997. Again, not a fixed expression, just "EVAR" as obvious misspelling.

- Natural misspellings also occur, and observations of such may have driven some of the ironic pre-phrasal uses.

- There are borderline post-Simpsons examples—this one uses the structure "best thing to evar happen", which hints at but doesn't manifest our fixed phrase.

- Searching year-by-year, January, 2001 was the first good crop of [superlative] [noun] EVAR citations, including, from the first few items, "THE WORST THING EVAR", "BEST AND WORST...MOVIES EVAR", and "FUNNYEST EPPYSODE EVAR".

- Searches for 2002, 2003, 2004 turn up snowclone deployments of the fixed phrase even more consistently; by 2004, at a glance at least, the phrase seems to be the only reason "evar" shows up on USENET.

- This April 5th, 2000 post to appears to be the earliest post-Simpsons deployment of "best * evar"...

- Whereas this June 26th, 2000 post to appears to be the analogue for "worst * evar".
posted by cortex at 5:34 PM on January 18, 2007 [4 favorites]

It's Comic Book Guy.
posted by fire&wings at 5:34 PM on January 18, 2007

maybe the misspelling began as dialect? people trying to sound like a valley girl on the net? oh. my. god. worst idea EVAR

nice work cortex (:
posted by Satapher at 5:41 PM on January 18, 2007

From the Simpsons newsgroup, Oct 9 1993:

"Lisa the Beauty Queen S-U-C-K-S. Worst episode <EVER>. "
posted by smackfu at 6:00 PM on January 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Don't know how I screwed that up, but this this is the link.
posted by smackfu at 6:02 PM on January 18, 2007

Hold on here. Are we debating the origins of "Worst ___ Ever" or "Worst. Episode. Ever."?

Because the periods are extremely important here. The periods signify, IMHO, Comic Book Guy. But without the periods, it's a completely different story. Hell, we all say "worst ___ ever" about all sorts of things and never think about it.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 6:25 PM on January 18, 2007

I was specifically interested the alternate "evar" spelling. cortex's research suggests it developed gradually with leetspeak, and the Comic Book Guy thing (with standard spelling) just made that particular leetspeak more common.
posted by scottreynen at 6:35 PM on January 18, 2007

Mr. Littlejeans

"Best play ever, man"
posted by matteo at 6:43 PM on January 18, 2007

Comic Book Guy, even wore the t-shirt "Worst. Episode. Ever." in that episode.
posted by lundman at 7:18 PM on January 18, 2007

cortex, that rocks.
posted by Opposite George at 7:25 PM on January 18, 2007

Jeez cortex, you could have spun that as an FPP in the blue. Good work,
posted by Neiltupper at 7:28 PM on January 18, 2007

My understanding was that it started on some Simpsons fans bboards where there would be postings complaining "Worst episode ever!"

The Simpsons' writers then started to use it for self-mockery by making the Comic Book Guy say it (because he's the type of guy that would be posting on Simpson fan bboards).

I don't know about the "evar" spelling, though.
posted by ShooBoo at 7:43 PM on January 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

but if we're talking about the spelling 'evar' i dont see how that has anything to do with the comic book guy... Im with SeizeTheDay on this one -- best ____ ever & worst ____ ever are common phrases that we use all the time. Even for people who have never seen The Simpsons.

"Hey Joe how was your day"

"Man, I tell you what. Worst day ever. First thing as I'm walking into the office my boss comes up to me...." etc etc

furthermore, if we're trying to figure out how the spelling came into popular usage, I dont see how obscure newsgroup posts could be a factor... ie, when did people start using 'best ___ evar'

I guess im just assuming scott is interested in the origins of its popular usuage

I still think the culprit is Jeff K :)
posted by Satapher at 12:20 AM on January 19, 2007

The newsgroup citations aren't meant to suggest that USENET is the sole or key vector for the spread of '*st foo evar', but I think you are underestimating a few things:

1. but if we're talking about the spelling 'evar' i dont see how that has anything to do with the comic book guy

It might or might not. Proving that conclusively would be difficult, but I believe it does: I think the popularity shift upwards in "worst foo ever" was clearly influenced by Comic Book Guy's utterance, and that the "evar" variant appeared in writing as a response to that new proliferation.

The change in (apparent, recorded) incidence of the fixed phrases "best foo ever" and "worst foo ever" after the release and syndication of that Simpsons episode.

Someone with better resources and technique would likely be able to do a more thorough and broad search for incidences of the strings in question. I worry about the Google Groups results partly because I don't know what the impact over time of Google's embrace of the USENET archives has been on the contents of what I was able to search. It could be, for example, that the sudden saturation of "best foo EVAR" in 2001 and on indicates a change in what groups they were indexing.

That aside, though, the available data shows "best foo ever" making a huge upswing after the famous Comic Book Guy utterance, and the EVAR variant springing up in spades after that.

I don't see any evidence that some other stimulus drove the sudden apparent upswing in usage. I also don't believe that usage suddenly exploded out of the blue.

2. furthermore, if we're trying to figure out how the spelling came into popular usage, I dont see how obscure newsgroup posts could be a factor

The very specific written nature of the "evar" variant—it only works when written down.

Certainly, people who get the EVAR joke can pointedly speak such a phrase to other people who get it, but no one is going to perceive and duplicate "this word is being misspelled with an A for ironic effect" if they're being initially exposed on a spoken channel. It doesn't scan. There is no joke when spoken, until the written form of the joke is mutually understood.

So a written record is what we're left with for tracking dissemination. And we can't really work with newspaper archives, because those aren't really documenting casual and informal speech. Suddenly, a USENET archive is seeming pretty good. It's not that "obscure newsgroup posts" are the driving force—though you may be underestimating the influence of the simpsons group as a meme prototyping ground for the internet—it's that USENET is an available record that displays the right sort of written informal speech that is needed to make something like "EVAR" bloom.

A search of forums would be good, but I have no centralized way of pulling that off. I could use google to search the web in general, but I'd need an easy way to sort and filter by date, which is less trivial than with USENET. I would bet a dozen donuts that similar trends in other archives of informal speech among popculture-aware conversants would be found.

3. I guess im just assuming scott is interested in the origins of its popular usuage

Me too. But while it's certainly true that people have reasonably used the phrase "worst foo ever" to describe things pre-Simpsons, that observation does nothing to explain the growth of the phrase as a meme in the last ten years, nor the consistent deployment of the written variation "evar" in said phrase.

Consider that a google search for the bare string evar yields a total of ~1.2M hits; a search for the wildcarded string 'best * evar' yields ~420K hits, representing nearly one third of all recorded incidences of that spelling. The relation between "evar" as ironic spelling and the fixed phrase in question is enormous. (Similar raw searches for "ever" and 'best * ever' reveal a ratio of nearly 10:1; compelling evidence of the general 'best * ever' usage as a fixed phrase but also showing a clear difference in correlation from the 'evar' example.)
posted by cortex at 6:52 AM on January 19, 2007

Possibly related, possibly not:

Why is a raven like a writing desk?
Because it can produce a few notes, tho they are very flat; and it is nevar put with the wrong end in front!
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:05 AM on January 19, 2007

cortex wins (:
posted by Satapher at 10:16 PM on January 20, 2007

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