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Full of the Awe

Not long ago I read a post where the author challenged her readers to stop using the word “awesome”.  (Apologies.  I neglected to take note of her name or her blog.  Sad face.  But to be honest, I wasn’t planning on writing about this so I didn’t know I’d need that info). 

If I remember correctly, she claimed “awesome” was overused, and as a result was losing meaning.  On one hand I felt she made a valid point.  I hear people use “awesome” all the time and have for as long as I can remember.  Her post has been percolating in my brain for awhile, and then other stuff jumped in and began cavorting with it until I finally decided I’d better write something down just to get it out of my head. 

I went to Merriam-Webster’s website and looked up awesome.  Not surprisingly, the definitions included:  “expressive of awe”, “inspiring awe”, and “terrific, extraordinary”.  Okay, I get terrific and extraordinary.  But it occurred to me that I might need a refresher on what “awe” actually means. 

Definition of AWE

1: an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime <stood in awe of the king> <regard nature’s wonders with awe>
2 archaic
     a : dread, terror
     b : the power to inspire dread 

Hmm…”dread” and “terror”?  So something that’s awesome can inspire dread.  Wow, good to know.  Sure, I see the “veneration” and “wonder” in there too.  That’s more along the lines of what I expected.  I did not expect to see dread and terror.  So much for awesome meaning really good things.  Awe + some = some dread.  Maybe that’s what the other blogger meant (man I wish I’d made a note of who that was and linked to her post, dang it).  Seems like we’re using it the wrong way?  People say things like, “Whoa!  Awesome post dude!”  But do they really mean they’re in wonder of the post?  Or that the post terrorized them?  Inquiring minds want to know!

So…the other stuff in my head – awful.  No the stuff isn’t awful.  Awful, the word was in my head.  Don’t most people hear “awful” and think of bad things?   Similar to awesome automatically being considered good?  I know I’ve always thought of awful as negative. 

Definition of AWFUL

1: inspiring awe
2: filled with awe: as
     a obsolete : afraid, terrified
     b: deeply respectful or reverential
3: extremely disagreeable or objectionable <awful food>
4: exceedingly great —used as an intensive <an awful lot of money>

Yeah, so it is a little negative in the same way awesome is negative.  But check that 4th definition:  “Exceedingly great”.  Yes!  Full of the awe!  I understand that in this case exceedingly great means a whole helluva lot of something but still.  Isn’t that good?  Okay, depending on the context it’s good.  If I won an exceedingly great prize in the lottery that would be most excellent.  On the other hand, an exceedingly great number of rats would be awful!  See?  See what I did there?  😀 

So what can we conclude from this post?  That I was bored and needed something to write about sure, that’s a given.  That awesome and awful aren’t exactly flip sides of the same coin – something I hadn’t thought about.  Also, that it’s entirely possible we’re using both words incorrectly at least part of the time.  One thing I’d like to know that I didn’t learn is why does awesome still have the E and awful doesn’t? 

I’ll bet some language mucky muck probably made up rules that apply here; I’m not an expert on language nor do I play one on TV.  My fellow blogger Dana is a lot more edumuhcated on language and words – see here and here.  She’s going to cringe when she reads this post; well parts of it anyway.  Sorry Dana! 

From now on I’m going to say awe-full for the great things that happen.  I think this post is Full of the Awe!  But I could be wrong.  It could just have some awe. 

It’s almost Friday Peeps!!!

P.S.  This is my 150th post!  Yippee skippee!!

One thought on “Full of the Awe

  1. Pingback: Twiddling Virtually | blather by bubbe

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