“It’s not necessarily negative. You could say ‘I’m ratchet’ to say ‘I’m real. I’m ghetto. I am what I am.’ It can be light, too,” [Earl] Williams, the producer, explains. When ratchet is used in hip hop, it can also mean cool, sloppy, sleek, or flashy. When Azealia Banks name-checks the word, as she often does on Twitter — 'Ratchet bitches make the world go around' was one recent tweet — it’s hard to figure out exactly what she means, but it definitely has positive connotations. […]
A man or woman can be ratchet in a way that emphasizes their authenticity, their realness, or their fierceness — another word that entered our lexicon in the past decade, in part due to Tyra Banks and her Top Model series. Like that last one, the term is sometimes used by young gay men in a complimentary context, something akin to 'hot mess.'
'Any type of vernacular that reaches the content of a Beyoncé or Lady Gaga song — you can bet it’s hit gay critical mass,' says Patrik Sandberg, a senior editor at V and pop culture chronicler. 'If you look at what the word refers to, it’s something gay men are really enamored with: a fucked up look. Someone who’s trying and doesn’t quite get it. If you’re insulting it by calling something "ratchet," you’re flirting with it.'"
— John Ortved, New York Magazine
For more glimpses into the brood chamber of our ever-evolving English language go here…