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Lately I have been hearing the word awesome used in many places. I'm trying to figure out how it is used. It has already been discussed on this site a bit. See


Wordnet says "inspiring awe or admiration or wonder" and gives a few examples:

"New York is an amazing city";
"the Grand Canyon is an awe-inspiring sight";
"the awesome complexity of the universe";
"this sea, whose gently awful stirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath"- Melville;
"Westminster Hall's awing majesty, so vast, so high, so silent"

Merriam-Webster says "expressive of awe; inspiring of awe; terrific, extraordinary"

Urban dictionary gives more definitions of awesome (see also awesomeness):

  • Something Americans use to describe everything.
  • formidable, amazing, heart-stirring, wonderful
  • A 'sticking plaster' word used by Americans to cover over the huge gaps in their vocabulary. It is one the three words which make up most American sentances.
  • An overused adjective intended to denote something as "cool" or "great" but instead winds up meaning "lame." This is actually a reflection of the lameness of person using the word, the degree of which is directly proportionate to difference between the user's perspective of the so-called awesome object / person / situation and that of a reasonably sober, well-informed observer.
  • You

Examples themselves are awesome:

"Bono is awesome." "This pizza is awesome" (when the pizza in question comes from a food court at the airport) Veronica Mars fans are awesome. They love the show so much they hired a plane to fly a message over Hollywood to show their support for renewal.

We can watch AwesomenessTV or read motivational calendars:

The world's longest waterslide (Auckland, NZ) is awesome. There is a blog 1000 Awesome Things:

#821 When the public bathroom has paper towel instead of hand dryers

#822 When there’s still time left in the parking meter when you pull up

#823 When you find out what was making that horrible smell and get rid of it

#824 Finding the TV remote after looking forever

More examples at The Book of Awesome. The Awesome Foundation is giving $1000 grants, to projects that it likes

So, how is "awesome" being used today? In contrast to cool.

Was there anything particularly awe-inspiring about these projects? Sometimes it's serious and sometimes it's sarcastic. My guess is it has to do with being extraordinarily good or extraordinarily bad in some way.


Possibly related:

What makes "like" and "so" popular?

  • definitely related. is this just hyperbole? – john mangual Feb 28 '13 at 17:08
  • ‪‪‪‪‪‪‪‪‪‪Epic peeve. – tchrist Feb 28 '13 at 17:57
  • Only old people (GenY and beyond) use 'Awesome'; it is so 'last century'. The kidses these days use 'sweet' (or 'suh-weet' because of the difficulty of pronouncing the consonant cluster), or 'sick' (like 'bad' for 'good'), or 'poonay' (kind of a minced oath). I'd make this a real answer but I don't have time for the references. – Mitch Feb 28 '13 at 18:04
  • "Man, how awesome is it that we found a parking space" is totally, like, a different word than in "The size of the universe is truly awesome." The former means nice, and the latter means amazeballs. Got it, dude? Awesomesauce. – aedia λ Feb 28 '13 at 18:16