It made the pages of many a newspaper back in 2012 when they reported on Lake Superior State University’s annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness: “Amazing” received the most votes of any on the list. But as far back as 2010 the Chicago Tribune noted it as an overused, “run of the mill” discriptor, and it has remained on lists of “the most annoying, overused words,” most recently in a 2014 Huffington Post article on “words that are so overused they become meaningless.”
Even the Pulitzer Prize winning Tampa Bay Times has hopped onto this bandwagon with the jingle/tagline “the amazing stories”… To be fair, I’ve copiously tried to find a better word to fit the rhythm of that jingle, and have admittedly come up blank (“the stupendous stories just doesn’t make it…). So, OK, they get a pass, as does the TV show “The Amazing Race” (first aired 2001), Steven Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories” TV series (aired 1985-87), and “The Amazing Spiderman” (first comic book published 1965). But WordPress does not; I just received an email touting ways I can “make WordPress Sites Look Amazing!” – nor does every talk-show host, news anchor, (professional) writer, and public figure, all of whom use the word more often than they use their Iphones.
So, I put it to you: Listen for it in conversation, in the media, anywhere that talking, writing, or communicating in any format is involved. If you find it seldom used, let me know…and if, as have I, you get to the point that if one more person finds something “amazing” you’ll smack them upside the head, let me know that as well.
Then, let’s work a bit on our lexicons. There’s “fabulous,” “extraordinary,” “fascinating (thanks, Mr. Spock!),” and “wonderful”: there’s “marvelous,” “surprising,” “remarkable,”incredible”; but no “awesome” or “excellent” – also tired.
In reality, “amazing” doesn’t adequately describe many things that deserve better.
And, unlike we Boomers, this descriptor is old, tired and ready for permanent retirement.