All the Amazing Ways we Misuse Words

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comWe’re ruining another word.

I first discovered this at a restaurant a few days ago.

The server came to the table to take our order.

“I’ll have water.”

“Perfect.”

“… with lemon.”

“Perfect.”

“… and baked tilapia.”

“Perfect.”

“And, there’s an ax murderer sneaking up on you.”

“Perfect.”

Of course, I’m being silly. I would never order baked tilapia.

Then the next time we ate out, the same exact thing happened again. The answer the server gave to everything we said was “perfect.”

Could it be we’re destroying another word in the English language? Is the word “perfect” the next victim of our insatiable desire to unnecessarily change the meaning of a word?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating we go back to saying things like “wherefore art thou.” I say “cool” when I like something. The other day, I slipped back into the ‘80s momentarily and referred to something good as “bad.”

But come on, fair citizens of earth, we have over 171,400 words in English. Let’s treat them all with some respect.

Here are a few we need to stop using incorrectly.

* Random. Just the other day I heard someone say, “I’m just so random sometimes.” I don’t even know what this means. What is keeping this person from saying, “I’m just so lug wrench,” or “I’m just so cat food?”

* Awesome. This is the grandaddy of them all. Yes, I say it, but I don’t feel good about it. The California redwoods are awesome. Someone’s selfie is not. 

  • Amazing. This is almost like awesome but several times more annoying to me. And yes, I must admit I’m guilty of this one sometimes, too.
  • Sick. Some of you may not even be familiar with this one. Saying something is sick means something is cool, or amazing, or awesome.
  • Literally. I hate this one the worst, yes, literally. People will say, “I got so mad, I literally exploded.” Or, “It is literally raining cats and dogs.” I heard this one the other day: “I am literally starving to death.”
  • Addicted. This is a close second to literally in the annoying category. People become addicted to chemical substances like drugs or nicotine. People do not become addicted to Netflix (I don’t think).
  • Sweet. I emailed someone the other day telling them I was going to be able to do whatever it was they wanted done. They replied, “sweet.” 

We get in the habit of over-using phrases as well. I don’t much care for it when I say “excuse me” and the other person says, “Oh, you’re all right.” Again, what does that even mean? I already know I’m all right, at least I think I do. But if people suddenly stop telling me I’m all right, will I begin to think I’m no longer all right? I can see it happening.

I first heard the phrase “no problem” when I was on vacation in Hawaii more than 30 years ago. All the Hawaiian people in the service industry would say it with gusto to tourists, and it was novel to me. But, somebody apparently snuck it back like a pineapple, and now it’s spread worse than kudzu.

It has virtually replaced saying thank you, especially in younger people.

“I’ll have water.”

“No problem.”

“… with lemon.”

“No problem.”

“… and baked tilapia.”

“No problem.”

It drives me crazy, but not literally.

About Barry Currin

Barry tries to be funny and poignant, and he's usually satisfied when he succeeds with one or the other. (Being both is awesome. And sometimes that happens.) Email him: currin01@gmail.com

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