No, It’s Not “Awesome,” And I Wish You Would Quit Using That Word



Except in the headline there and as a necessary reference point in this article, I have never used the word “awesome,” and I don’t intend to start.

I’ve never called anyone a “sick puppy or a “happy camper,” either. On principle.

I first heard “awesome” being used in the “totally rad and bitchin’” sense back in the early 1980s, and I immediately disapproved with every fiber of my soul, not that my soul is particularly fibrous. I figured the word would die out soon after it started gaining traction as the argot of mentally challenged California burnouts and anacephalic Valley Girls more than 30 years ago.

I figured wrong. Instead of what I’d wished and hoped and dreamed for, the word “awesome” has spread like genital warts throughout the body politic. Not only do the young naive saplin’s of this world use it every other word (their other “every other word” is “like”), I think I may be the only English-speaking American of any age who has never used it.

It’s gotten to the point where I’ve heard people in their late sixties saying every fucking thing in their drab lives is “awesome.” They had an awesome slice of toast for breakfast. The weather today is awesome. It’s sometimes hard to be disciplined, so they think it’s really awesome that you get your oil changed every 3,000 miles.

NONE of those things are awesome! They are mundane—at best, only mildly pleasant. I enjoy an occasional slice of toast from time to time, but I’ve never had one that was remotely awesome.

Now, if the 7,000-foot bearded wrinkly face of Jehovah God were to split open the clouds and then address me by name in a booming, deep, testosterone-laden voice, THAT would be awesome—especially since I don’t believe in Jehovah God.

If aliens were to land on Earth and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they can dance better than black people, I would likewise be awestruck.

But the salad you had at Golden Corral for lunch? NOT awesome.

The new Butter Pecan flavoring that Dunkin’ Donuts has for coffee? Nice, but again, not awesome.

The fact that your friend’s friend is going to visit their grandparents for the first time in 15 years? Decidedly unawesome.

You’ve diluted the meaning of “awesome” so that it means “average,” so now we’re going to have to recalibrate the entire language to find a word or phrase that packs the power of what “awesome” used to mean—scrumpdillyicious? Superfantabulous? Extra-tremendous? Ball-ticklingly wonderful?

Save the word “awesome” for the very few things in life that truly inspire awe—things such as death.