99 Words for Amazing on the Wall …

A couple weeks ago I was having a Twitter conversation with an editor at St. Martin’s Press, who was remarking about the overuse of the word amazing. One of her authors was swearing it off and tweeting about it. Ha! I said. This has been my personal bête noire for years. (Don’t believe me? I’ve written about it before.)

I don’t care if you use it in a Facebook post. I don’t care if you use it in an email, on Twitter, or over lunch with me. I don’t care and I’m not counting. (Seriously. I’m on record about this too.)

I do, however, care when you send me a manuscript and you’ve used the word amazing to describe … well, everything. I care when amazing becomes your go-to adjective, because it shows you’re not paying close enough attention. Worse, it makes you sound like a thirteen-year-old girl. (Note: we’re not talking about dialogue here. It’s possible you’re writing dialogue for thirteen-year-old girls, in which case knock yourself out.)

Seriously, kids, it’s time to put an end to this amazing madness. We have a kajillion usable words in the English language (Wikipedia says there are more than 300,000 words in the OED; here are a few more OED facts) … and about a quarter of those are adjectives. So let’s give amazing a much-needed rest. It is no longer a dignified word (unless, as previously noted, you are talking about circus stunts).

If you need help, here are a few words you can use as substitutes for amaze, amazed, amazing, or amazingly. There’s a world—nay, a universe!—of possibility here. Be the first on your block to try out these amazing intriguing new adjectives. They’re amazing superlative!

absorbing                great                              singular
admirable               gripping                        special
all-consuming       heavenly                      spectacular
arresting                 important                    splendid
astonishing            impressive                   staggering
astounding             incandescent              startling
awe-inspiring       incredible                     stellar
awesome                indelible                       sterling
beautiful                 interesting                   stirring
breathtaking         intriguing                     striking
brilliant                   jaw-dropping             stunning
compelling             joyous                            stupefying
dazzling                  lovely                             stupendous
delightful               magnificent                 sublime
divine                      majestic                         sumptuous
electrifying           marvelous                    superb
enchanting            masterful                      superlative
engaging                memorable                  supernal
engrossing             mind-blowing            supreme
enthralling             mind-boggling          surprising
epic                            miraculous                  swell
exceeding                nifty                               terrific
excellent                  notable                         thrilling
exceptional             noteworthy               top-notch
exciting                     out of this world     tremendous
exhiliarating          outstanding              unbelievable
extraordinary        phenomenal             uncommon
extreme                     powerful                    unexpected
eye-opening            prize                            unforgettable
fabulous                    prodigious               unique
fascinating               rare                             unlooked-for
first-class                  remarkable              unsurpassed
first-rate                    revelatory               unusual
flabbergasting        riveting                    wonderful
glorious                      sensational             wondrous
gorgeous                   shocking
grand                          significant

Bottom line: There are going to be times when amazing is absolutely the right word to use. But, my friends, it has been so overused that it has lost its effectiveness completely. You should make every attempt to find a substitution.

Tweet: When amazing becomes your go-to adjective, it shows you’re not maximizing your vocabulary.
Tweet: We have a kajillion usable words in the English language, so let’s give amazing a rest.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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6 Comments

  1. Matthew says:

    Amaz…I mean marvelous post :). Jamie, I’d also put the word awesome in the same category.

    • Jamie says:

      I agree: awesome is overused for the wrong reasons; however, I’ve included it here as an amazing substitute because sometimes it’s the right choice. Just as sometimes amazing is the right choice.

  2. Amanda Halm says:

    Superb.

    I feel like “epic” is used too often in speech. Is it epic? IS IT?

    And please see Louis CK’s stand up on the word, “hilarious.” Made me never want to say that again.

    I love reading your posts. You’re helping me along in my own fiction writing. More like this please.

    Thank you.

    • Jamie says:

      And yep! Epic is is also overused and for the wrong reasons. When epic (and awesome or amazing) are used as slang, and that slang finds its way into written narrative, that’s when the problem starts.

      And thank you, Amanda, for reading. There are a lot of people blogging “writing tips,” some better than others … which is why I try to mix it up a little. Partly because I write mostly for myself. :)

  3. I think you had Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” on repeat for too long.

  4. […] especially useful for brainstorming, I think. As noted in a previous post, I often start by make lists of words I might use in a project. A Western-themed copywriting assignment led to a list that included […]

  5. […] use of amazing, the patron saint of hyperbole, which is so overused as to be meaningless. (Here are some substitutes for the truly amazing-addicted.) I’ve also gone on record with how much I despise click-bait […]

  6. […] especially useful for brainstorming, I think. As noted in a previous post, I often start by make lists of words I might use in a project. A Western-themed copywriting assignment led to a list that […]

3 Trackbacks

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    […] especially useful for brainstorming, I think. As noted in a previous post, I often start by make lists of words I might use in a project. A Western-themed copywriting assignment led to a list that included […]

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    […] use of amazing, the patron saint of hyperbole, which is so overused as to be meaningless. (Here are some substitutes for the truly amazing-addicted.) I’ve also gone on record with how much I despise click-bait […]

  3. […] especially useful for brainstorming, I think. As noted in a previous post, I often start by make lists of words I might use in a project. A Western-themed copywriting assignment led to a list that […]