‘Awesome’: The most overused word in English

Join the anti-awesome movement and expand your vocabulary with these ‘amazing’ alternatives—45 of them.

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on Ragan.com in 2011. For those unaware of the anti-awesome movement, here’s a reminder.

“Awesome” must be the most overused word in the English language.

So let’s stop using it as our default every time we are too lazy, busy, insecure, stupid or whatever to think of a more original or relevant word.

Let’s stop using it because we’re middle-aged business people who think it makes us look cool. It doesn’t.

Let’s stop using it because we are so riveted to the game control, iPhone or other obsessions that we begrudge the brain cells required to process language.

Scary awful meanings

Despite the monotonous ubiquity, most people seem unaware of the full meaning. In addition to inspiring joyful awe, “awesome” can mean inspiring terror, as in “the awesome power of the sea.”

Not only that, the word “awful,” I discovered, is actually a synonym for “awesome,” providing you communicate in an olde English dialect. Gee, I’m starting to sound like Grammar Girl. Back to the anti-awesome movement I’m trying to muster.

In my quest for alternatives to “awesome,” I checked with Wikipedia, Thesaurus.com and some other sources. I also asked people on Facebook and other social media, where I often spot the biggest offenders. I even cooked up a few more on my own.

The anti-awesome list

Please add your suggestions in the comments below.

1. Amazing

2. Astonishing

3. Awe-inspiring

4. Awe-struck

5. Beautiful

6. Beyond the call

7. Breathtaking

8. Brilliant

9. Clever

10. Cool

11. Dazzling

12. Exciting

13. Excellent

14. Exceptional

15. Fabulous

16. Fantastic

17. Great

18. Groovy

19. Heart-stopping

20. Humbling

21. Impressive

22. Incredible

23. Ingenious

24. Magnificent

25. Majestic

26. Marvelous

27. Mind-blowing

28. Momentous

29. Moving

30. Out of this world

31. Outstanding

32. Overwhelming

33. Remarkable

34. Righteous

35. Shazam

36. Simply divine

37. Spectacular

38. Staggering

39. Striking

40. Stunning

41. Stupendous

42. Un-freakin believable

43. Wonderful

44. Wondrous

45. You rock

I don’t want to banish “awesome” entirely. Occasionally, it is the best choice. But I would love to hear a little more thought behind those robotic mouth movements.

For those who want to keep it simple, try a word from this list the next time you are tempted to slip into “awesome.” Maybe you should give yourself a daily “awesome” limit, and wean yourself off gradually.

For those of you with more alternatives, please add them below in the comments section.

Welcome to the anti-“awesome” movement, oh wise ones.

Barb Sawyers combines her love of writing and talking in her ebook Write like you talk—only better, blog, workshops and communication services for business and nonprofit clients.


5 Responses to “‘Awesome’: The most overused word in English”

    Tristan Jones says:

    Very true. I hate it when people use it for something that doesn’t deserve it. If you’re using “awesome”, it should be for something that truly makes you awe or look in admiration

    Neva Royo says:

    I have been on a 3 year crusade with my four adult children and young grandchildren to avoid the overuse of the word “awesome.” Although they are very lighthearted about my dismay and my displeasure at the overuse and incorrect usage of the word, they nonetheless are now using other words in place of “awesome,” at least in my presence and in their texts and emails to me.

    Noah Kaumans says:

    After a year of no work broke, 2 felonies.took a shit ass plea for 20 yrs. Suspended sentence five years probation. 10’s of thousands in bail. I still owe. And will for years. Thousands in fines. Public defender that added to my problems. Not one bit of help. The judge. I will stop there. Thats Not even a fraction of the beginning of my story. Struggling big time. My girl, home owner. Me i live at my mamas. She has a “bug problem”. I wish on nobody. It was brought in to the house. By no fault of hers. I put up the money, hundreds. And the dirty ass nasty labor I been lucky at the casino. 1700.00 cash in my pocket. Broke as hell for over a year b4 that. She says to me “its AWESOME u helpin me out. That was pertty much my thanks. I for got those charges yeah she lied on me straight up. Punched her self in the face. 2 separate events. Long story short i end up with 2 counts burglary 1st degree. 25 years a piece. She said AWESOME like 4 hrs ago. She aint thought twice about it. Im sure. Me i cant stop. Its funny. More sad then anything. And im “the bad guy” and would never carry my self that way. I guessin i didnt express myself 100% the way i would have liked but. The courts have not heard the last of me. Not a threat of any kind. Im goin over their heads.and gonna make sure they did what they needed nothin more nothin less. And while not violating any of my rights. It should be clear to any one who reads the trial information and has half a brain. If any one was wondering. Thank you. If u got this far.
    Noah Kaumans

    Rob Turner says:

    Dude, this bad boy is one so like totally awesome word that not even the word awesome is awesome enough to totally convey its awesomeness. So like totally awesome, dude!
    Hopefully the fashion will pass, the sooner the better.
    I also dislike the use of the word “alternate” to mean “alternative”.
    And I’m not keen on splitting infinitives.
    Or beginning sentences with conjunctions.

    Dan Russo says:

    As I was signing the multiple forms at the doctor’s office this morning the receptionist said “awesome” every time I signed a form. I had not heard “awesome” used so much since I taught the eighth grade 25 years ago. I expected her to tell me that I was seeing and “iconic” doctor.

Ragan.com Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from Ragan.com directly in your inbox.