Thursday, February 16, 2006


Amazing: the word of choice for people with no imagination 2006

Here is a re-post of my favorite crusade.

Okay, here's the deal: I don't hate the word *amazing*, I hate its overuse. Amazing (and amazed) is an insidious word that has worked its way into the American psyche. It isn't insidious for what it means, but for the monopoly it holds over words like terrific, spectacular, glorious, et cetera.

Now, you might not have noticed it, but the next time you watch TV or listen to a conversation, note how many times you hear *amazing* or *amazed*. It will be the word used more often than not to describe anything fantastic, incredible, or delicious. I don't object to the use of the word, even if it's wasted ("These paperclips are amazing."), but I grit my teeth in frustration when most EVERYONE uses *amazing* to the exclusion of most ALL OTHER SYNONYMOUS WORDS. It's especially annoying to see it popping up in a lot of TV ads. I know writing ad copy isn't exactly a brain trust of a job, but you'd think someone out there would have a thesaurus. And that's what makes it insidious. People just use it without thinking and they use it all the time.

Don't believe me? Try the David Hahn Astonishing *Amazing* Challenge: the next time you are with a buddy and watching TV (reality TV works best) or at an average party, tell your friend that for the next 30 minutes, you will give him (or her) a quarter for every time someone uses ANY word that is roughly synonymous with *amazing*, like astounding, miraculous...shit, even *great*. In exchange, your pal must give you a quarter for everytime someone uses amazing or amazed. It is a bet that will be hard for your chump to pass up, after all, the odds are in his favor: he gets paid for spotting words out of a category of dozens, while you only get to spot only one. I liken it to taking a road trip out west, where your friend pays you for every Rhode Island license plate you see, and you pay him for all other states in the union. But trust me, you will be the richer. Trust me. You will be quite surprised.

*Amazing* is the word of choice for people too limited to be bothered to think of what they are saying. At the very least, if you are going to have a stock word that you keep on the top of your head to use to describe all things wondrous, then at least come up with your own word that everyone isn't using. My friend Drew uses *stupefying* to describe a lot of stuff, and I'm glad for it.

So, if you go away from this post thinking that I'm some nut, picking one word out and berating its use, I'm not. I'm berating a word that is being thrown at me (and thrown at everyone else) from all different directions, all the time. Snap out of it. Please.

And now, Christopher Robbin and Pooh

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