May I have a word about… those dreadful words ‘awesome’ and ‘stunning’

·2 min read
<span>Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

I wrote last week about a reader’s justifiable disenchantment with the widespread use of the word “tsar”. This week, I bring a small piece of good news. Listening to the lunchtime news on Radio 4, the newsreader used “adviser” instead. What balm to the ears.

An altogether less welcome phrase appeared in the same bulletin with a talking head using the phrase “from the get-go”. I’m sure it’s supposed to suggest a hint of dynamism, but what’s wrong with “from the start”?

Another reader, Jonathan Hauxwell from Yorkshire, also has a couple of beefs, about stunning and awesome. “Naturalists and explorers have done them to death. Every editor, proof-reader and essay-marker should footnote these two words as: ‘Please note: other adjectives are available.’ ” I couldn’t agree more. There’s a woman who works in my local who, even if you only order a pint of bitter, says “awesome” and when you leave says: “Have a great rest of your day.” I do wish she wouldn’t.

The following was in a article about intimacy therapists (who know such things existed? My careers adviser – tsar? – at school never told me): “The charismatic Wilder set up Shhh! Dating (speed-dating without the conversation) and the Togetherness website and events: ‘social technologies for flow states and embodied self-leadership’.” Embodied self-leadership? Is that another way of saying pull yourself together?

Further to my collection of absurd “communities”: last Sunday’s Countryfile came from Whitby and contained the following, ahem, gem – “the jet community”. No, not a convocation of plane spotters, but people who work with the gemstone producing jewellery. Not a patch on my favourite – the corkscrew collecting community – but a noble effort all the same.

• Jonathan Bouquet is an Observer columnist

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