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Misuse of the Word "Awesome"

Updated on June 18, 2014

The like, totally amazing abuse of our awesome language, dude.

I am going to unpack this concept and use all the annoying phrases and words I can think of - I need this catharsis, perhaps you would like to vent along with me.

You may say “I could care less". Perhaps you could care a little less, but I believe the phrase is “I couldn’t care less.”

I know the definition of several words have changed over time; for instance, you will not call a happy person ‘gay’ unless you are aware of their sexual proclivity and those details may have nothing to do with their current emotional state.

However, up-cycling and repurposing the use of certain words and detracting from their original meaning does bother me. I mean it, like, totally drives me crazy.

More irksome phrases

I know the subject matter of this article is unexpected for me and I will find all the haters that are gonna hate bro, and that’s chilled.

But literally, (not figuratively or virtually), the abuse of awesome irks me – I can live with the other funnies people come up with, but not this one.

I feel it brings down the truly awesome things in our world and beyond; the word is overused in its description of mundane, everyday, unremarkable things that happen in our lives.

Seeing ‘awesome’ on classic hubs rankles, as there are so many other appropriate words I would like to see there. Words such as, memorable, exceptional, thought provoking, absorbing, unusual, engrossing, refreshing, or engaging. The subject matter may be miraculous and awesome, but as a description of the article ?


OMG or are there other exclamations?

OMG, it’s AWESOME. I know these words have been co-opted by a generation as we once used ‘radical’ or ‘cool.' So, I like totally get it, you know.

Just as marketing people seem to think that we don’t want to know what the question is anymore – we want to know ‘what is the ask.’ And if you don’t understand something you ask someone to ‘unpack it for you’ instead of explain it to you.

It’s so fun – what is this, the phrase is ‘it was so much fun'. Another phrase I’m hearing is ‘all the sudden'; it is ‘all of a sudden” then there is knocking it over ‘on accident'; no, it was ‘by accident".

Moreover, the neighbour’s dress being described as ‘sick,' does not mean it’s distasteful; it means it’s a lovely dress.

People, you are are not illiterate, nor a child, neither are you ‘on-trend’, when you describe your ham sandwich as awesome. Yes, this word has been known to come out of (otherwise intelligent) adult’s mouths. Not teens as you may assume.


That's what she said.
That's what she said.

More awesomeness

I realise it sounds so random, but I want to literally drill down into the core of abused words and, irregardless of their popularity, expose them as an enormous problem, rather than a baby bump, and once unpacked ensure that as a writer I'll never end up repurposed. Awesome idea, right?

Actually, at this point in time, below is totally the very unique list I could come up with, although it may actually be over the top, I could be more incentivised to carry on but, you know, yeah, I’m basically cool and at the end of the day, that’s cool beans.

The tortured English paragraphs above are disturbing in their lack of clarity of thought and expression, not to mention the boring speech pattern. Is it laziness, or a general retreat from clear, direct thought and speech? Are people reluctant to speak in illustrative sentences that unequivocally say what they mean?

The use of awesome, and its meaning has been essentially devalued, its impact lost by its puerile misuse – I have seen awesome, I have read about the truly awesome, and I’m sure, you have too.

Have a quick giggle with me as we watch Eddie Izzard and his take on “Awesome”

Here is a list of words that may be used instead of awesome:

Breath-taking, amazing, stunning, astounding, astonishing,

awe-inspiring, stupendous, staggering, extraordinary,

incredible, unbelievable, magnificent, spectacular,

remarkable, phenomenal, prodigious, miraculous, imposing, impressive.

The Grand Canyon is awesome so is the fury of nature unleashed.

The Victoria Falls and Norway’s fjords are awesome. Mount Everest, the Amazon jungle, the Zambezi in full flood, the eclipse of the sun, the Pyramids are all awesome, as are the stalactites and stalagmites that grew in caves over thousands of years.

The Battle of Britain, Felix Baumgartner who jumped from the edge of space, is awesome.

So, are your new shoes awesome, your car - even though it may be a Subaru, the movie you just saw, a good cup of coffee and, no offense intended, the column you or I just wrote? – No, not so much.

What some People have achieved is awesome

People can be awesome, but not pop stars or movie stars nor is what they wear awesome.

Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Michelangelo, William Shakespeare, Albert Einstein, Mozart, space travel, various medical discoveries, such as Fleming and Penicillin, x-Rays, printing 3D organs for human use, the internet and many other impressive achievements by people is awesome and the list goes on.

Are the incredible achievements of these people and the many others not mentioned, comparable to your hamburger, or your golf swing?

Victoria Falls from the air
Victoria Falls from the air | Source

Awesome means awe-inspiring

Awesome is when your breath escapes you, when the scene, the actions, the achievement, is so incredible or astounding that only the pinnacle of words has the force and descriptive ability to illustrate and portray what you’re seeing.

I know it has become a habit to many, but perhaps we could we stop using this word as our default every time we are too lazy, busy, or excited to think of a more original or relevant word.

Let’s not loose the sheen of any other beautiful words to distinguish the vivid, transcendent, dazzling, rare, euphoric moments from the merely pretty or pleasant.


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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Ineffable remains ineffable.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Thanks for the article on the overuse and misuse of 'awesome'. When it's used to describe someones cap blowing off and being run over by a truck I often ask the person if they've ever been to the Grand Canyon or Glacier

      National Park,aswwering no, I tell them 'you ought to go there to see something that really is awesome'. Unfortunately I often get a blank stare as the answer. Would you mind if I share your article with a retired English teacher friend that I often have conversations with over just such misuses? Thanks.

    • CyberShelley profile imageAUTHOR

      Shelley Watson 

      4 years ago

      Glimmer Twin Fan, Thank for visiting and I know how easy it is to grab that word - Loved the joke LOL

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      4 years ago

      Uh Oh - Now I need to go back and check my hubs to see how many times I've used awesome. Awesome hub (sorry I had to do that joke).

    • CyberShelley profile imageAUTHOR

      Shelley Watson 

      4 years ago

      LindaSarhan, Thank you for stopping by - I love your comment and thanks for the generous share!

    • LindaSarhan profile image

      L Sarhan 

      4 years ago

      I love this article! You are right, and I am glad someone wrote this. Being the occasional language diva (lol) myself I am definitely going to share this along.

    • CyberShelley profile imageAUTHOR

      Shelley Watson 

      4 years ago

      poppyr, LOL, thank you for your comments - I appreciate you dropping in. I was completely ignorant about the old meaning of 'nice'. I hope you took the time to listen to the quick video - the comedian makes the point humorous which I am sure you'll appreciate!

    • poppyr profile image


      4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      This article is awesome.

      In all seriousness, I think I used that word in one of my reviews.. oops! Interesting how it's that one in particular that irks you. English is an evolving and mutating language where words and phrases change meaning constantly. Did you know 'nice' used to mean 'ignorant'?

      On the other hand, I agree with some things, and we all have words and phrases that annoy us - such as using the word "like" during spoken speak seventeen times per sentence. And I completely agree with "I could care less" - surely it should be "I couldn't care less" i.e. I don't care?

    • CyberShelley profile imageAUTHOR

      Shelley Watson 

      4 years ago

      travmaj, Hello and thank you for chiming in here with your marvellous comment. You already know what awesome means it's your grand kids!

    • travmaj profile image


      4 years ago from australia

      Well said. I plead guilty to have slipped into this habit and the 'awesome' button doesn't help. I'll be watching my vocabulary in future. Mind you, I don't think my grand kids would understand if something wasn't awesome. Must ask them what it actually means!

    • CyberShelley profile imageAUTHOR

      Shelley Watson 

      4 years ago

      FlourishAnyway, Thank you for dropping in. I somewhat doubt the frequency of your use of 'awesome' with your excellent command of the language. As always, find your comments 'fan-effing-tastic'. LOL

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      Oh no! Awesome is like every third word I speak. Maybe I will replace it with fan-effing-tastic.

    • CyberShelley profile imageAUTHOR

      Shelley Watson 

      4 years ago

      billybuc, so glad you stopped by - as I was writing this I was wondering what you would think! Thank you for your great comments.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      There was no way I was hitting the "awesome" button after reading this. LOL You are so right, Shelley. There are quite a few of these words that our culture has driven into the about "honestly" they have to tell us they are being truthful in case we think they are always lying. :) Thanks for the fun article.

    • CyberShelley profile imageAUTHOR

      Shelley Watson 

      4 years ago

      DDE, you are a gem to drop by and comment - thank you so much.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Great word and I did not know such words were misused. I like the photo.So interesting and useful.


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