Tuesday, April 4

Awesome . . . Seriously?

Once again, Liz’s post yesterday has inspired my post today, so right up front, thank you, Liz! Her consideration of the word “ordinary” made me go right into Editor Nan mode and start thinking about words, how we use them, and how we misuse them.

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 . . .

PS: Oh, there is one notable exception to the overusing "awesome" rant (consider it Nanny privilege)--Grandboy, Son, and DIL are always awesome!  Don't you just love these three cuties?


  1. Agree with you about awesome. It was one of those in-the-moment words (boss, radical, really, wicked, seriously, etc.) that stayed around for the millennium. Loved your examples.

    1. Yeah, I remember "boss" and "radical, man..." My brother used to say that! How funny! Thanks for stopping by, Liz!

  2. it's the Valley Girl syndrome!! lol I do agree, though, we awesomely overuse awesome. :D

    1. Yup--and I'm just enough older than Valley Girls to roll my eyes at its overuse, although I'm guessing there were words I used in my teens and college years that made my mom roll her eyes...it's all perspective, isn't it? Thanks, Kristi!!

  3. I have to agree that a daschund themed party is cute, but definitely not awesome. Let's all agree that awesome can only be used to describe the moon walk. And possibly space travel. Fun post, Nan!
    Jana, who's at her writing retreat and currently procrastinating, er, developing her plot. Cheers!

  4. I've worked around millennials too much and totally overuse awesome. And apparently totally. And probably a lot of other "wrong" words. LOL Keeps me young.