This headline on Buzzfeed caused me to do a double-take:
The 4 Dopest Quotes From Ruth Bader Ginsburg On Marriage Equality
Initially, I thought the article so headed would list quotations considered by the writer to be especially misguided or stupid (i.e., “dopey”). As I read further, I realized that the writer admired Associate Justice Ginsberg’s opinions as expressed in the quotations. The word dopest was intended as a compliment.
The word dope has a long and checkered history in English.
In its original use, dope referred to a thick liquid or semi-fluid used as an article of food or as a lubricant. The word is thought to derive from Dutch doop, “a dipping” or “a sauce.” The Dutch verb doopen means “to dip.”
Other meanings related to the gooey nature of dope include or have included:
A preparation, mixture, or drug which is not specifically named.
A varnish applied to the cloth surface of early airplanes to strengthen and keep them taut.
A substance added to gasoline or other fuel to increase its efficiency.
Opium, “especially the thick treacle-like preparation used in opium-smoking.” US speakers extended this use of dope to include stupefying drugs and narcotics in general.
A medical preparation given to a racehorse for the purpose of affecting its performance.
Various figurative meanings have become attached to dope:
Information, especially on a particular subject or of a kind not widely disseminated or easily obtained.
Information, a statement, etc., designed to gloss over or disguise facts; flattering or misleading talk.
Something designed to deceive or bamboozle; a fraudulent design or action; a piece of deception or humbug.
A stupid person, a simpleton, a fool.
Dope is also used as a verb to mean “apply or to administer dope in one of its senses.”
The use of dope as an adjective entered English slang in the 1980s, by way of rap music:
1981 J. Spicer Money (song) in L. Stanley Rap: the Lyrics (1992) 301 “Yo, man, them boys is dope… This record is dope.” (OED)
As for the word dopest used in the quotation about Justice Ginsberg, it is a slang expression meaning, “sickest, coolest, tightest, most awesome.” It is not standard usage and does not convey a positive connotation to speakers of standard English.