The ubiquitous awesome

Awe*some (adj): 1) Causing awe or terror; inspiring wonder or excitement; 2) (colloquial) excellent, exciting, remarkable. — from*

How many times have you heard the word “awesome” in the past day or so? I tried to keep a running tally but eventually gave up when I hit 35 mentions. And that was only at my house.

“Awesome” has always struck me as a preppy word, a verbal leftover from the 1980s. As a teenager, I tried not to use it because it seemed too bored-Valley-Girl, too-whacked-out-surfer-speak for a kid from the Midwest. “Cool” was my word; it summed up everything from moderately okay to wondrously miraculous in four little letters. Tossing off an “awesome” every other minute seemed so… trite. I ranked it up there alongside “gag me with a spoon” and “gnarly.” Too overdone.

So imagine my surprise, as I was reading through some of my old blog posts and comments, at just how frequently I now use the word “awesome” (read: far too often). When on earth did that happen? And more importantly how?

I blame the children.

My kids use “awesome” all the time. When the twins were in first grade, their teacher — a fantastic teacher, by the way — used to lead her students in the following cheer (accompanied by hand-clapping):

Awesome! Awesome!

I know my oldest son had occasionally used the word, but from that point on, all three were rattling off the “awesomes” all the time. Cereal with chocolate flakes was awesome. Going to the pool was awesome. Staying up late was totally awesome.

And now I’m throwing it around, not just to communicate with my kids (“Awesome job on your homework, dude”) but even in my writing. I’m speechless at how easily I’ve adopted this word I once shunned, how quickly I’ve assimilated to kid-speak. What worries me more than anything is that I’ll be one of “those parents” who tries so hard to be hip and cool with their children that they inadvertently embarrass the life out of them. I can’t even explain how un-awesome that would be.

I’m not going to promise to stop saying or writing it, because frankly, I enjoy the word too much. It’s almost a verbal tic for me, similar to sprinkling the word “like” ten times in one sentence (remember doing that?).

Instead, I’ll concentrate on incorporating other great words from the past to give it a bit of a break. “Excellent” is definitely a contender. Maybe “groovy” could make a comeback? Because that would be totally awesome.

Do you say “awesome” a lot too? Have any strange verbal tics? What words would you like to see make a comeback? Say “groovy,” please — I just love that word!

*I quoted the meaning because I found it to be far more helpful than the one given by the Merriam-Webster online dictionary (which I thought would be more precise).


About thethingaboutjoan

Mom of three who knits a little, bakes a lot, crafts a bit and blogs about it all.
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25 Responses to The ubiquitous awesome

  1. KBT says:

    I am, like, totally guilty of this one myself! Never quite got behind “groovy” but could embrace “cool” again. It’s like cool, ya know? Great post!

    • I know — “groovy” is a longshot. Totally. I think “cool” might be able to overcome the “awesome” but it’d be hard!

      (And I realized that as I was writing this, I completely reverted to 1980s-speak in my head. Uh-oh!)

  2. Micha says:

    In our house right now, the overused word is “epic”. Which is “cool” because I’ve never been one to like “awesome” either. Like, ya know? 😉

  3. All of those words sound pretty geeky when I really think of them: Neat-o, Phat, Hot, Epic. I prefer “Cool” but that’s just enh compared to “Awesome” these days. And like you I’m tiring of Awesome. Personally I want RAD to make a comeback! -Nizzy

    • I forgot about “rad!”That’s a good one too!

      I never understood the appeal of “phat” but then again “gnarly” also sounds disgusting too. And you’re right: they do all sound kinda geeky when you think about it!

  4. Awesome post! (hee hee)
    I am guilty of using the word too often, and have recently tried to curtail it. Got it from my son-in- law. 🙂

    • Even when I know I’m overusing it, an “awesome” drops right into my conversation. Took me forever to rid myself of “like” (and I’ll admit here that once I start to mimic that, like, speech pattern, I can’t stop!). Hopefully awesome doesn’t cling like that one!

  5. My son said it every other word until he hit 12 and 3/4s and now he tends to say things like
    “harumph” and “meh”. Oh and my new favorite “ooogh!”. Personally I miss “awesome” 🙂

  6. Great post Joan! I TOTALLY say awesome a lot! 😉 And I’m with ya… I didn’t use it really when I was younger. Just in pry the last ten years. With that, I really think we should have groovy make a comeback!

    • Yay! One vote for groovy! I love the sound of that, but my kids think it’s ridiculous. Maybe too “Patridge Family/ Monkees?” (Side note: can you tell what reruns we watched as kids?)

      And I’m also realizing that I’m totally using “totally” too much! Ahhhh! 🙂

  7. My son has 3 shirts with various “Awesome” sayings. Yesterday after school, my mom asked him what his shirt said. Now, my 13 year old son is special needs, doesn’t read (but he does memorize), looked down and said, “Um, like, Awesome.” I didn’t tell him in the morning what it said, so someone at school must have commented about it. And, because his pronunciation isn’t always spot on, unless you know the context, or have figured out a word previously, “awesome” can sound like “a**hole”. He went through a phase telling us, “You awesome,” so one day, at my prompting, I had him leave a voice message for his dad (my ex-husband), “You awesome Daddy,” and of course had to hang up immediately because I was laughing hysterically. It was a few days before he called and questioned what was said. I love my son!

  8. I remember using “peachy keen” all of time when I was in grade school and after not using it for umm…27 years, I just used it earlier this week to see how it sounded. It really didn’t sound as cool as I thought it sounded when I was 10!!!

    • Now that’s one I haven’t heard in a long time! Do you know where you picked it up from? I know my love of “groovy” is attributable to too many Brady Bunch/Monkees/any other late 60s sitcom you want to name. 🙂

      • Oh boy, I can not remember….I just remember all of my girlfriends saying it so I probably was just copying it from them! But speaking of Brady Bunch, my kids have just got into that show big time so maybe I’ll start hearing groovy around here!!

      • I’ll bet you hear a lot of “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!” 🙂

  9. Guilty! As a teacher I have a few favourite phrases/words including awesome when i provide feedback to my students. My other favourites that I save for when the work is really great are superb and brilliant. Hope that helps! ~Thea

    • “Brilliant” seems like an excellent substitute for “awesome.” There’s just something about those words, isn’t there? And the more I try to break myself of using it, the more it pops up in conversation. Oh well — might as well go with the flow! 🙂

  10. totally Awesome! ha!ha! 🙂 just kidding! yes, I do use this word a lot even if I’m not around young kids but I don’t know why I use it very often! I also use the word “cool” 🙂

    • Isn’t it funny how “awesome” just creeps into your everyday-speak? I say it almost constantly — whether I’m around the kids or not. Maybe someday another word will take its place, but I can’t imagine what it would be (“cool” again?). 🙂

  11. Cul de Sac says:

    haha! you post made me laugh! i speak french right? and all the “cool” things to say when I was younger were exactly that: Full COOL! and c’est HOt. and now my kids are going like: NICE… so it’s realllly funny!

    • Oh, I like “Nice!” Especially in that dragged-out way. Love that!

      I still love “cool” though. I love that it could sum up everything in such a short little word. It was awesome! (hee hee!) 🙂

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