Awesome must be the most over-used word in North America. So let’s stop using it as our default every time we are too lazy or busy or insecure or stupid or whatever to think of a more original or relevant word.
Let’s stop using it because we’re middle-aged business people who think it makes us look cool. It doesn’t.
Let’s stop using it because we are so riveted to the game control, iPhone or other obsessions that we begrudge the brain cells required to process language.
Scary awful meanings
Despite the monotonous ubiquity, most people seem unaware of the full meaning. In addition to inspiring joyful awe, awesome can mean inspiring terror, as in “the awesome power of the sea.”
Not only that, the word awful, I discovered, is actually a synonym for awesome, providing you communicate in an olde English dialect. Gee, I’m starting to sound like Grammar Girl. Back to the anti-awesome movement I’m trying to muster.
In my quest for alternatives to awesome, I checked with Wikipedia, thesaurus.com and some other sources. I also asked people on Facebook and other social media, where I often spot the biggest offenders. Most recently, readers of Ragan.com, where this post appeared, added some zingers. Thank you, everyone.
I deleted “amazing” from my earlier list after several Ragan readers’ complaints about its overuse. As Jackie O wrote: ” ‘amazing’ is used by empty-headed little marketing girls who think that every occurrence in their day is worthy of it. I once asked one of these little dim bulbs if I could get her a glass of water. Her reply was “that would be amazing”. Really? Had someone been torturing this woman by denying her water? ”
The anti-awesome list
Please add your suggestions in the comments below.
beyond the call
out of this world
the bees’ knees
I don’t want to banish awesome entirely. Occasionally, it is the best choice. But I would love to hear a little more thought behind those robotic mouth movements.
Let me add that no one is required to use any of the words on this list that make them uncomfortable. These are simply options. You choose.
For those of you who want to keep it simple, try a word from this list the next time you are tempted to slip into awesome. Maybe you should give yourself a daily awesome limit, then wean yourself gradually.
For those of you with more alternatives, please add them below in the Comments section. I’ll update the post with them.
Welcome to the anti-awesome movement, oh wise ones.