Synonyms of ‘awesome’

Posted by on October 30, 2015 in Language Issues | 0 comments

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the primary meaning of the adjective ‘awesome’ is ‘full of awe, profoundly reverential’. It can also refer to something that inspires awe, in other words something that is appalling, dreadful or weird.

“You’re awesome!!”

But, in the last few decades, especially since the 1990s, ‘awesome’ became a vogue word and is used to mean ‘overwhelming, remarkable or prodigious’. Of late, the word is used with great frequency in a mindless manner. Indeed it is spoiled by overuse. “Awesome’ is often used now as an enthusiastic term of commendation, a far cry from its original meaning, and happens to be synonymous with ‘marvellous, stunning or mind-boggling’.

The use of the word ‘awesome’ in this trivial sense is more of an American phenomenon. In New Fowler’s Modern English Usage, R.W.Burchfield points out that ‘the word also turns up, for example, in the language of young “preppy” people in the US: it is glossed as “terrific, great” in the Official Preppy Handbook‘. Hence, ‘awesome’ is now a vogue word, a product of linguistic fad. It is sprinkled all over teenage conversation and by latching on to it while you are digging in for an adjective of commendation, you are trying to show that you are with the hip or the young at heart.

Synonyms of ‘awesome’ from Oxford Thesaurus of English: breathtaking, amazing, stunning, astounding, astonishing, awe-inspiring, stupendous, staggering, extraordinary, incredible, unbelievable; magnificent, wonderful, spectacular, remarkable, phenomenal, prodigious, miraculous, sublime; formidable, imposing, impressive; informal mind-boggling, mind-blowing, out of this world; literary wonderful; archaic awful

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