My amazement with amaze

Checking one’s facebook page in the morning is probably one of the first things done by any “normal” facebook addict. Well, having said that, I am one of them. So this morning, still sleepily taking a few sips of my coffee, I stumbled across a post which caught my eye immediately. No, it was not a post about kittens and no it was also no post revealing any shocking confessions of one of my fb friends. It was a word that caught me off guard and instantly made me snap wide awake; the word was amaze.

You may ask yourself why I am so intrigued by this word and the answer is simple: its usage. Having been familiar with it being used as a noun as well as a verb, I have recently noticed amaze being used as an adjective. Apparently, one can look amaze in a new dress and buy amaze mugs and Tshirts.

The Urban Dictionary, a dictionary dealing with slang and phrases, defines this new usage as being used by “annoying teenage girls”, as “the better, in fact BEST, way to say something is amazing” or simply referring to amazing. Seeing the usage of amaze expand makes me think about the consequences for the good old amazing. What do you think? Is amaze just a temporary trend or is it here to stay? How acceptable is amaze?

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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 My amazement with amaze

  1. Morana Lukač says:

    I have searched for “amaze” (adj) in several corpora, but even the most recently compiled ones (British English 2006, American English 2006, Diachronic Corpus of Present-Day Spoken English) do not show any hits. Its a very novel development indeed.

  2. I’m amazed (having filled in the poll and seeing the results) that half the current voters think amaze adj. is ok in netspeak!

    Could it be that amazed is going the same way as the development of pleased: be pleased to -> be please to -> please to -> please?

  3. Robin Straaijer says:

    The use of one word class for another is of course in itself not new; linguists call it conversion. This particular case is along the same lines as “adorbs” used for “adorable”, primarily it seems in speech and on the internet. It starts as a clipped form and then changes word class. In the internet series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries we hear even Lydia Bennet use it as a noun, meaning ‘adorableness’ when she says “Enjoy the awesome. And the adorbs!” in episode 20 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45q4cggTil8).

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