Friday, April 21, 2006

Apple #165: Amazing Alternatives

Okay, United States, can we please all find another word to use besides "amazing"?

  • "This is going to be an amazing decade," Bill Gates said.
  • "The will to finish [the Honolulu marathon] is just amazing," said Espinada, a civilian employee at Hickam Air Force Base.
  • "On the political front, you've seen it -- you've seen what happened in one year's time. It's just amazing, I think," said President Bush in a speech on the war on terrorism at Kansas State University.
  • From the ad copy for Ruben Studdard's I Need an Angel CD: "The second album from the 2nd Season American Idol winner Ruben Studdard features 12 amazing tracks that not only further showcase his beautiful voice but his passionate and deep-affection for staying true to his virtues." (There are all kinds of things wrong with that sentence, but I won't get into it)
  • From wedding coordinator Monica, to band Blind Date who played at a wedding she recently directed: "We all thought you were amazing, and we look forward to having you back!"
  • From bride Angela K., to the same band, who played at her wedding: "Cody and I thank you and the rest of Blind Date for helping to make our wedding reception so amazing!"
  • When asked about why he wanted to work on The Last Samurai and what he likes about Japan, Tom Cruise said, "It's just an amazing culture and I've always been fascinated with it, and one of the great things about being an actor is that I get to travel to these places."
  • "I think Angelina Jolie has done amazing, amazing things," said Jessica Simpson who was speaking in reference to adoption, "and the international adoption rate since her has skyrocketed."
You get the point.

With all of these "amazings" being flung around, I've kind of lost track of what exactly the word means. So I looked it up in various dictionaries. Here are its three definitions:

  • Inspiring awe
  • Causing great surprise or wonder
  • (obsolete use) Bewildering or perplexing
By the way, "awe" is an overwhelming feeling of wonder or admiration, often inspired by a deity. So when we say we are amazed, we should be saying we are awestruck, given chills of wonder, thrilled by the presence of something majestic. Do you think that was really the case when a little-known band played at Angela K's wedding reception? Do you think that Ruben Studdard's singing performance would inspire such a reaction? Or perhaps these people are using "amazing" in its second form of use, to indicate their suprise at how good these performances were?

Okay, I'm just being snarky. Obviously, people have beaten this word to death and mashed its definition into an unrecognizable pulp that everyone is supposed to see as vaguely positive. But I'm sick of it. I'd like to start seeing and hearing a little variety, please. I recognize that I won't be able to get people to start using "amazing" in appropriate contexts, but maybe I can encourage people to use something else instead every once in a while.

Here are some alternatives:

  • Glorious - having great beauty and splendor, worthy of pride, bringing great happiness.
    • Cody and I thank you and the rest of Blind Date for helping to make our wedding reception so glorious!
  • Superb - surpassingly good, excellent
    • We all thought you were superb, and we look forward to having you back.
  • Wonderful - extraordinarily good, to the point of inspiring wonder, used as an intensifier.
    • I think Angelina Jolie has done wonderful, wonderful things.
  • Delightful - greatly pleasing or entertaining.
    • Ruben Studdard's performance is simply delightful.
  • Enchanting - capturing interest as if by a spell.
    • It's just an enchanting culture and I've always been fascinated by it.
  • Sensational - causing interest, curiosity, or emotion.
    • This is going to be a sensational decade.
  • Spectacular - lavishly produced, as in a performance.
    • I love the movie I made because I think it's spectacular.
  • Terrific - very great or intense, possibly to the point of terror.
    • On the political front, you've seen what happened in one year's time. It's just terrific, I think.
  • Prodigious - so great in size of force or extent as to elicit awe; or far beyond what is usual.
    • The runners' will to finish the marathon is just prodigious.
See, now, isn't that so much more interesting? Engaging? Evocative? Descriptive? Fun?

(And now if you look back up at the title of this entry, doesn't it kind of bug you, even just a little bit?)

OneLook, Roget's II: The New Thesaurus

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