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Adjective Overuse

Do you have a pet peeve that you, yourself, commit on a regular basis? I have one, and I try not to do it but it’s a language thing that has taken root. It’s the overuse of adjectives, specifically positive adjectives. Giada De Laurentiis just used the word “incredible” to describe meat loaf with eggplant parm on top.

First, let’s discuss how “incredible” and “meat loaf” don’t belong in the same sentence. Actually, no need for discussion. I’m telling you those two words don’t go together. Giada, I think you’re running out of ideas if all you can come up with is combining two meals together to make one “incredible” dish. Don’t get me wrong, I love most of what she makes on her shows, but she’s pretty bad at overusing adjectives. I get it. You’re trying to get people to watch the show and come back for seconds, but nobody on this planet makes a meat loaf that can be described as “incredible” with out combing it with another word… like “incredibly gross.”

I don’t mean to pick on her, she’s just one example and the most recent offender to cross my ears. I do it all the time too, and I really need to stop. I even use the words “great” or “awesome” in such sarcastic ways, when I really mean “this freakin’ sucks,’ or “I’m so not looking forward to it.”

What we have here is a devaluation of adjectives. We are overstating things. Words like great, amazing, wonderful… have all replaced words like good, neat, or nice. Things that are slightly above average or slightly above expectations are now described with words like “exceptional.” So what happens when we come across something that truly is exceptional? What word do we use to describe it then? At best, whatever is actually exceptional will be described with a synonym for exceptional, equating it to all the other things we’ve mislabeled as being greater than they actually are.

For example, if I say that weekend trip to the beach an hour away was incredible, and that trip to the Bahamas was also incredible…. I’d be misrepresenting one of them. I think a trip to the Bahamas would be fantastic, while a trip to a relatively close beach would more accurately be described as good, possibly even great. There’s a difference.

Maybe Bill Engvall can explain it better:

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One thought on “Adjective Overuse

  1. Pingback: Fated and Hated Word Lists | Kimber Vale

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