#WordUse Series:
Amazing, My Dear Watson

The word amazing is still way, way overused these days. She’s an amazing mother. That movie was amazing. It’s amazing that you can get up and do that every day. That clothing store is amazing. (A clothing store? Really? These are examples ripped from your editor’s own life and I assure you a clothing store is not amazing. Okay, maybe if it’s on the Champs-Élysées.)

I see it in fiction, I see it in nonfiction; written by inexperienced authors and by those who should know better. I see it so often there are times I think: If I read the word amazing one more time, I’m going to break something.

Please help me keep my household goods intact, kids.

It’s fine with me if I see the word in fictional dialogue, because that’s how folks talk. (Clichés are okay in fictional conversation for this same reason.) Dialogue should reflect how real people sound.

Nonetheless, I’ll be paying close attention to how many times you use it. Because as your editor my personal feeling is the use of amazing should be reserved for descriptions of circus stunts. Just sayin’.

Perhaps, instead of amazing, you meant that two hundred-year-old pipe organ in the big Episcopal church downtown is, oh … magnificent. Perhaps it’s impressive. Other possibilities: grand, splendid, majestic, superb, glorious … Maybe you mean it is both grand and historically important.

You see, we have no shortage of suitable substitutes.

I just want to encourage you to make vocabulary work for you, rather than falling back on a word that loses its effectiveness with each passing day. Amazing tells me nothing, since it’s been used to describe everything.

Tweet: Amazing tells me nothing, since it’s been used to describe everything.
Tweet: Amazing, My Dear Watson! Stop using this word, please.

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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  1. Gwen watts says:

    This is an amazing article on the overuse of many words. Do one on the word “like.” That one like drives me crazy like you don’t know. :)

  2. E McD says:

    My 8 year old came up with another alternative for amazing today!

    “Mom, I can’t wait to meet Jesus,” he said. “He’s a really miracle guy.”