Thursday, May 6, 2010

Gripes of Wrath

I have a gripe. Actually, I have more than one, but this one will do for today. I will probably offend some and/or be accused (again) of being a word freak. Worse things have happened. It's not my intention to offend, merely to enlighten and perhaps make war on vacuous word usage.

Here's the deal... there are three adjectives I rarely use any more because they've been ruined for me with overuse and abuse. Their true superlative meanings have been reduced to something akin to ice cream cone sprinkles - no real flavor, just for decoration. Events such as receiving a discount on your morning latte are not awesome, excellent, nor outstanding. They're nice. They're pleasing.

The Grand Canyon is awesome. Seeing its overwhelming grandeur is awe inspiring. When one is in absolute awe - defined as: an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like - then the appropriate adjective to describe it is Awesome. Only then.

When something is at the peak of how good it can get, it is excellent. When we hear a strain of a symphony that makes us feel as though we're floating, or when we read a sonnet that moves us to tears, that is excellence - defined as: possessing superior quality or merit, remarkably good, extraordinary - and the appropriate adjective to describe it is Excellent. Only then.

When something or someone surpasses our expectations and takes us to an unexpected pinnacle, when something or someone stands apart and above everything else it is outstanding - defined as: prominent, striking, marked by superiority or distinction. Say a chef serves a tasty tidbit that makes all our senses stand at attention, the appropriate adjective to describe the chef, his work, and the taste of his food is Outstanding. Only then.

Oh, and one other thing. Can we please altogether eliminate vapid use of the word like from our vocabularies?! Unless you're saying, "I like that color," or "The color of that leaf is just like the shade of green in my dress," it just isn't appropriate. Like should be used to show affinity toward or similarity to someone or something, nothing more. There is, like, nothing so, like... annoying, as like... hearing the word like all the like freaking, like time!

You may now return your superlatives to their original upright position (please!). Thank you for flying Superfluous Blogs.

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
~The Princess Bride


  1. Ahaha... Here's the thing, i agree with you, yet i find myself using awesome a lot. And "like"? Yeah, i still find myself doing that sometimes, even though a few years ago i swore i would stop. Our poor language has been so abused. Sadly, it seems like the internet has made things worse. i don't know if it's "netspeak" that did it or what, or maybe no one reads anymore. i dunno. We have to be advocates for our beautiful english language!

  2. I know, Jess. I'm not above using slang and/or coloquialisms. In fact, they can be a lot of fun when used to pepper "proper" speech. However, just like pepper, if they get overused, they ruin the flavor of everything else.

    It's ironic that while the internet has made it easier for us to communicate, in many ways it has ruined our communication skills (hmmm... now there's a blog topic!).

    Now, go be cool, you groovy chick!


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