The Pollution of Awe

aweWhat a wonderful afternoon and evening! The weather has cooled down and the air is crisp with a light breeze. I understand why many nature lovers consider September and October to be their favorite months to enjoy the outdoors. Perhaps it also has something to do with the balance of warm days and cool nights. Most people don’t notice it, but the angle of the sun during cool months creates more interesting shadows during the day.

I had to laugh to myself far more than once today in hearing multiple times the over-used, and to me, the most inappropriately placed word in a conversation. If you haven’t guessed it, the word is awesome.

The over-use started with the young and has now moved into nearly every age group save the very old. I would wager I heard it said at least a dozen times today. One particular person said it at least six times in a very short conversation I had with him. It may sound as though I carefully listen to everyone’s English and judge their communication skills. In fact, I do not. Everyone has their own style of speaking and writing whereby every speaker is truly special in the way they communicate their thoughts.

I think we all could find far more appropriate words to use when describing something rather than using awesome. The over-use of cool is far overshadowed by awesome. A dear friend who works downtown fully knows how much I dis-like hearing it and she has teased me about it a time or two. Some months ago I read an English teacher’s blog on the use of awesome and she was correct in saying, “The English language is in a constant state of evolution and the meaning of awesome has greatly changed, but it would be more appropriate to limit the use of it.” That was a diplomatic way of saying, “Stop using it so much and think of something more specific to the subject!” It’s like saying, “Awesome meal.” Really? How about saying sometime more close to the subject like, “Delicious meal.” Do you get the drift now? Vague sentences create the opportunity for mis-understandings.

I found a Webster’s Imperial Dictionary and snapped a photo of the root word of awesome which is awe. Read the definition and draw you own conclusions about the use of awesome. Wouldn’t you agree we’ve polluted the meaning of awe?

Joe Chodur

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