It's Genius

When did genius become an adjective?

We in the lexico-grammatical purist community always heard the phrase "it's genius," and we assumed that "genius" here was a predicate nominative. "It is [the quality called] genius." You know -- along the lines of "It is I," which as we all know is the proper way to respond to the question "May I speak to [insert name here]?" when answering the phone. Or, in more popular parlance, "That's entertainment."

Now we've been hearing phrases like "that's really genius" or "that is a genius CD." When we first heard this from a non-native English speaker, we thought it was an attractively creative, but non-colloquial, usage. But now, it's everywhere.

We don't dispute the correctness of this usage, because we are not flat-earthers here in the lexico-grammatical purist community; we know how to change with the times. Our question is this: is this actually a new usage, or were we wrong all the time about how to parse "it's genius"?

Those in the medievalist community can just be quiet about the character "Genius" in the Roman de la rose. We know about him, and he is not relevant to this discussion.


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