It's, like, totally awesome

What’s the most overused word in today’s English? I nominate awesome. Everyone from the president to the most inane pop star uses the word. The use that prompts today’s little rant was in a direct-mail piece that landed in my mailbox this weekend. The flier from a new church promotes the church’s "Awesome Children’s Program." Of course, if the children’s program inspires awe and wonder, then the word might apply.

Speaking of slang, the AARP Bulletin that arrived in my mailbox (yes, I am AARP age) has a page dedicated to "50 Words That Kids Think You Don’t Know." One I didn’t know is wikidemia, defined as "a term paper that was researched entirely on" Others are scooby doos, meaning "good shoes," and tramp stamp, referring to a tattoo very low on a woman’s back.

That list led me to look up 1970s slang. Oh, man, we had some silly words back then.

The best find of the day, though, is A Historical Dictionary of American Slang. It’s radical and copacetic! Go ahead and take a swig. While you’re at, read Dr. Goodword’s essay on slang and take the Slang Generation Checkup.


This article was originally posted by the Raleigh News & Observer, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Co.; is posted here to provide continuity; and is copyright © 2011 The News & Observer Publishing Company, which reserves the right to remove this post.