As an executive speech coach and frequent presenter on “How to Go From Good to Great to Awesome” I was interested and amused by this article from Ragan.com. Ragan first came to my attention when they booked me to speak at the Ragan Speechwriters Conference. Their newsletters are always amazing.
Perhaps you are familiar with my dislike of the slopping “stuff” and the overly used non specific “thing.” Perhaps I should change my speech titles? What do you think? Read on and let me know.
“Awesome” must be the most overused word in the English language.
Writes Barb Sawyers. Read on…..
So let’s stop using it as our default every time we are too lazy, busy, insecure, 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. I even cooked up a few more on my own.
The anti-awesome list
Please add your suggestions in the comments below.
6. Beyond the call
30. Out of this world
36. Simply divine
42. Un-freakin believable
45. You rock
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.
For those 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, and wean yourself off gradually.
For those of you with more alternatives, please add them below in the comments section.
Welcome to the anti-“awesome” movement, oh wise ones.
Thanks for your advice Barb Sawyers.
Barb Sawyers combines her love of writing and talking in her book, Write Like You Talk–Only Better: The Secret to Pulling Ideas Out of Your Head and Onto the Page, blog, workshops and communication services for business and nonprofit clients.
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It looks like you’ve pretty much covered them all.
So, I can’t use “thing” and “stuff” huh. That’s a bummer. What about “like”? 🙂
Dear Julie, You got it….”like” is out as well….if you want to be effective. Fripp
I have joined your rss feed and stay up on your great posts. Also, I’ve shared your website with friends. Thank you!
Thank you for your kind comments. Keep reading and we will keep adding more content. Fripp
I agree that “Awesome” is totally overused but I am not sure about some of the replacements like “groovy” “un-freakin-believable or “You rock” but it IS a great list. My wife harps on my all the time about saying “You know what I mean?” I overuse that and it doesn’t help my public speaking or day to day conversation. I need all the help I can get I guess so will keep following your blog. Thanks!