That was literally awesome

All things come to an end. No matter how hard we try, but ultimately we cannot prevent them from disappearing or not fitting our needs anymore. Take, for example, shoes. As a kid I had awesome shoes with blinking lights on the soles and no matter how hard I tried, I could not squeeze my feet into them. I simply outgrew them.

Awesome, another example. According to the OED awesome was initially used to express “inspirational awe”, being “full of awe”, weird or dreadful. Sadly, I have to acknowledge that awesome  in this sense no longer exists. It seems as if we have outgrown awesome. However, awesome is not dead, it is everywhere. It almost has become the new cool or okay. Ordering a simple black coffee in the UK can lead to an approving awesome. Agreeing on plans for the weekend is awesome. Telling your friend that they are awesome is awesome. If you are left wondering why that is so awesome, then you might find this obituary hilarious, yet invigorating.

On a side note: Even though I like the old-fashioned and extinct meaning of awesome, I have to mention that my shoes were extraordinary, outstanding, remarkable and stunning.


About Carmen Ebner

Carmen Ebner is a PhD candidate at Leiden University Centre for Linguistics and currently investigates attitudes towards British English Usage. Carmen is part of the project Bridging the Unbridgeable: linguists, prescriptivists and the general public, which is supervised by Prof Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade.
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3 Responses to That was literally awesome

  1. Robin Straaijer says:

    Awesome post! But not to worry, because just as we eventually acquire new new shoes, we also eventually acquire new words for new awesomenesses, Indeed, as hinted at by the picture accompanying your post, we may already be there. It might just be so that legendary! is the new awesome!

  2. Viktorija says:

    And here’s how the awesome Eddie Izzard explains the difference between the two meanings of ‘awesome’: He paints quite a picture!

  3. Reblogged this on JeremyButterfield and commented:
    Some thoughts on a word that has become ridiculous: awesome!

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