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