Last week, I caught part of Terry Gross' interview with J.R. Moehringer on the car radio between buildings. I read his THE TENDER BAR several years ago and admired it. It was the end of the discussion between Terry and the author when Terry said, "So I want to say I've really enjoyed talking to you and I thought you were awesome and I use that word, awesome, because I know you really don't like how it's used in speech, how it's been used for the past few years. So tell me what really irritates you about awesome."
My ears perked up. The overuse of the word awesome has annoyed me for awhile. I even tried to go cold turkey on the use of it awhile a go. It was a losing battle. But at least I know I'm not alone. I had a lively conversation with one of my Lakeview colleagues about the same thing. And during the time we were talking in the busy library, we overheard the word at least 4 times.
I sent out this tweet that afternoon. Silence.
The link led to a Diigo page with highlighted text.
This afternoon, I remembered the Google tool, Ngram Viewer and thought it might be interesting to see how the word has been used in books during the last decade. Probably because the analysis is done from scanned books, not real language, the word awesome loses out badly to "brilliant".