One early instance of good vibrations used in a metaphysical sense for “positive energy” occurs in Frank Earl Ormsby’s astrology 1893 text The Law and the Prophets. Ormsby describes the various vibrations supposedly emitted by bodies celestial and earthly. The phrase good vibrations was popularized, however, by the rock band The Beach Boys in their 1966 hit single “Good Vibrations.” Songwriter and Beach Boy Brian Wilson said he took lyrical inspiration from stories his mother would tell about picking up different vibes from different people.
Wilson also apparently wanted to title the track “Good Vibes,” but was convinced otherwise on the grounds that vibes—the slang abbreviation for vibrations—was considered too trendy. Good vibes, however, took root in the popular lexicon as a fun, welcoming, happy, and harmonious atmosphere. A 1967 account of the famed Monterey Pop Festival was described as “producing nothing but good vibes.” In subsequent decades, vibes spread more generally as a slang term for one’s intuition about a person (e.g,. He gives me a bad vibe) or a person’s personality or style (e.g., I like his denim vibe).
Good vibes saw wide and varied usage in pop culture during the 2000s and 2010s, from an animated TV show about surf culture in 2011 to a music festival founded in 2013. Popular Dutch electronic dance music (EDM) artist Quintino released a song titled “Good Vibes” in 2017.
EXAMPLES OF GOOD VIBES
I have two mid terms today, send all those good vibes this way.
@Pahseeta, May, 2015
Good things always happen to those with positivity and optimism. #Happiness #GoodVibes
Outside of hippies, good vibes is associated, and to some extent used by, people who are part of New Age, surf, and bohemian culture. Popular media often uses the phrase in reference to these subcultures (e.g., travel-writing about a great surfing beach to soak up the vibes).
Good vibes also enjoys wide use in colloquial speech and digital communication to express positive feelings or hope from a person or environment. The phrase is often used in verbal constructions like: give off/emit good vibes, get/pick up good vibes, has good vibes, send good vibes my/this way, or simply it’s good vibes. One can also speak of a singular good vibe (e.g., I got a good vibe about the company in my interview). Bad vibes is a common negative counterpart.
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Motivational graphics memes as well as clothing and merchandise feature the phrase good vibes, and the hashtags “#goodvibes” and “#goodvibesonly” (i.e., negative attitudes are not welcome) are popular on social media.
Users of dating app Tinder frequently use good vibes on their profiles to show a laid-back, no-nonsense attitude to dating. They may also post “good vibes only” to express a desire for easy-going people.
This is not meant to be a formal definition of good vibes like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of good vibes that will help our users expand their word mastery.