I confess I am a word nerd. It’s all my mom’s fault—she was a word geek too. When my siblings and I were kids, she insisted we learn new words and use them correctly. I also confess to being kinda proud of my vocabulary, which although not awesome (See what I did there? Don't worry, you will.), does probably qualify as extensive by any ordinary standard. I love words. Finding and using new words gives me a little charge . . . oh, okay, a big charge. I also raised my kid to love and appreciate words. It’s not at unusual for one of us to drop “Good word” into the middle of a conversation and then stop for a moment to discuss the word, where it came from, and how cool it is that one of us got to use it. Yup, word nerds.
Liz’s post really got me thinking, and the word that kept popping into my head was awesome. This one makes the word nerd and the editor in me nuts because it is so inappropriately overused. Somehow, awesome took the place of “wow” and “cool” and (okay, I’m dating myself) “groovy.” Awesome-sauce makes me want to tear my clothes and pour bleach into my ears, but that's probably age, not the word nerd in me. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be bugged by something like this, except that awesome feels like a word that should be reserved for things that are truly . . . well, awesome.
Webster defines awesome as “inspiring awe; extraordinary.” I realize that what inspires awe in me may not seem extraordinary to you, but can we agree on a few examples.
The Grand Canyon is awesome.
That new embroidered denim jacket? Pretty, but awesome? Not so much.
Neil Armstrong walking on the moon? Awesome.
A daschund-themed birthday party? Nice, maybe even fun and cute, but not awe-inspiring.
Jesus feeding the 5000 with five loaves and a few fishes? Truly awesome.
The double bacon pepper-jack cheeseburger at the new burger joint down the road? Tasty, but not awesome.
So, what do you think? Are we over-enthusing and making great descriptors trite by using them when a less . . . shall we say, enthusiastic adjective might be more fitting?
Discuss . . .