AWESOME IS AWFUL. “A perfectly good word rendered meaningless by everyone using it all the time when so many other words would be more suitable,” opined Lori Hamilton of Cobble Hill, awesomely.
All were writing in response to a column about nature-related words that had disappeared from a dictionary. I asked readers to submit the words they wished would vanish and, conversely, which ones they would like to see return. Here are some of their replies:
• “I can’t wait to see the back of iconic,” declared James Fife.
• Overworked adjectives also irk Roy Leaman. “Fantastic article, Jack. Oops, I stopped using the word fantastic years ago.”
• Rich diversity leaves Derek Tant of Sidney feeling poorly.
• Sheryl Taylor-Munro wishes opioid overdose would become obsolete. Amen.
• Sooke’s Andy Haden is tired of “military-grade anything.” As in the marketing term emphasizing the toughness of everything from flashlights to the aluminum in pickup trucks.
• Jim Sexton would like to crowbar leverage out of the lexicon. “Ugh. Hideous. Even ‘to lever’ would be better.”
Sexton also finds the use of concerning as an adjective, um, conce … . No, no, why used the C-word when the perfectly good troubling or unsettling are available?
• For Judy Nobel, it’s usage that rankles. “Wheresitat for where is it. WhereamIat for where am I. Then I love bringwith for bring it with you.”
• Fairfield’s Rex Sharman flinches at impact as a verb. (“How about reverting to ‘affect’ or ‘influence?’ ”)
• “Growing the middle class,” impacts Patricia Cuthbertson negatively.
• “My cringe word is gotten,” wrote Bruce Beattie.
• Gotten also galled Sidney’s Adam Kanczula. “This word is used to replace so many more descriptive words that would not butcher the English language.
“He’s much better now” is much better than “He’s gotten better.”
“He’s received his mail” trumps “He’s gotten his mail.”
Speaking of the T-word:
• Trump, humphed Sharon White, monosyllabically.
• “I look forward to the time that trump will only refer to playing cards,” wrote a wistful (whistful?) Alexis Maartman-Jones.
• Trump and its derivatives also irked Andy House, as did libtard, bigly and a few other associated terms (in which case Andy might avoid reading the Fox News Facebook page). What words would he prefer to read? “I’d like to see faith, and hope and charity, along with optimism and civility, come back into common usage.”
• Derek Byer also submitted both naughty and nice lists. He would happily wave farewell to misremember, bike lanes and fake news, but yearns for the return of gazooks, wanker, milady and bollocks, which I think is the name of the Sex Pistols’ greatest hits album.
• Cam Purdy misses gallivant, spiffy, gadabout, dandy and Barack Obama.
• Shelby Alfred mourned infra dig. “Used extensively in the Victorian era, it describes an action or a statement that was socially demeaning. For example, for a married man to publicize the fact that he had a mistress was distinctly infra dig.”
• “I miss scrivener,” lamented Victoria author Ian Ferguson. In case you’re wondering, a scrivener was a scribe, someone who made a living by writing or copying written material. I have occasionally scrivened Ian’s ideas. (That sounds nicer than plagiarism.)
• Byron Macadam’s lost word was one he learned from his grandmother in the late 1950s, but doesn’t recall hearing again until his daughter used it in a recent email: discombobulated, meaning confused or frustrated. “I suppose it could mean that one is not ‘combobulated,’ but I doubt if that is a word, though I have been wrong before.”
Thanks to all who replied. You were awesome.
Jack Knox is a born-and-raised Kamloopsian who once worked at the Kamloops Daily News. He is now a columnist with the Victoria Times Colonist. Since joining the Times Colonist in 1988, Jack has worked as a copy editor, city editor, editorial writer and editorial page editor. Prior to that he was an editor and reporter at newspapers in Campbell River, Regina and Kamloops. He won the Jack Webster Foundation’s City Mike Award for Commentator of the Year in 2015.