4

"The most very best you will ever in the universe" There's a word for the category of words such as the above, words that are used to emphasise something without adding any content by themselves.

Those words that are used a lot in marketing and in reviews to convey "wowing".

I can't find it.


Edit: In retrospect the question wasn't clear enough, and the word I was looking for (Superlative) isn't necessarily the correct answer to the question. But the answers to the original question are good, so I'm not changing it.
After rereading the question and the answers, I'd say that both Intensifier and Puffery are good answers to the question as-is.
I decided to mark Intensifier as the answer because it relates to the modifiers themselves rather than to the phrasing as a whole, and because it was interesting to read about it.

  • 1
    You could call them fluff words, although not all fluff words are "used for emphasis." – J.R. Dec 1 '14 at 13:41
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    Exaggeration, puffery. – user15851 Dec 1 '14 at 14:02
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    In the specific case of someone using these words to sell something, I would use the specialized term marketing drivel. – Patrick M Dec 1 '14 at 14:56
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    From my perspective, the word for most very best is ungrammatical. – FumbleFingers Dec 1 '14 at 19:59
8

I believe the term you are looking for is intensifier, which is a term for

a modifier that makes no contribution to the propositional meaning of a clause but serves to enhance and give additional emotional context to the word it modifies. [Wikipedia]

In other words, it's just fluff intended to excite without informing.

  • 1
    That one is interesting, although not what I was looking for it's a good read. I almost gave up looking for synonyms and then struck gold: Superlative. – pfff Dec 1 '14 at 14:01
  • Now I'm not sure what's the common practice: Do I hit "accept answer" to the answer that wasn't exactly what I meant, yet led me to the answer? – pfff Dec 1 '14 at 14:03
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    @pfff - If "superlative" is what you're going for, that's great, but it is not really what you asked for in that a superlative word is not necessarily superfluous, which is a better fit for your question and means: nonessential, redundant, extra. – Kristina Lopez Dec 1 '14 at 15:09
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    Note that superlatives are not always inane, either. – Robusto Dec 1 '14 at 15:12
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    @PatrickM I don't think that is the right procedure. You shouldn't edit to change someone else's answer. Instead he should post it as its own answer. However, as Kristina pointed out, in this case, even if it satisfies the original poster, it doesn't quite answer the original question as written. – Chris Sunami Dec 2 '14 at 3:12
6

The UK Advertising Standards Agency calls such terms 'puffery':

3.2 Obvious exaggerations (“puffery”) and claims that the average consumer who sees the marketing communication is unlikely to take literally are allowed provided they do not materially mislead.

Here's a lawyer's interpretation of that, based on the ASA's adjudications of previous cases:

But what about claims which aren’t meant to be taken literally? Which are obviously untrue or exaggerated? For example, “Our car is so phenomenal that if you look at it too long your head will fall off”. These claims are known as “puffery”, and (thankfully) you don’t need to prove that these claims are literally true. ...

So when complainants challenged T-Mobile’s offer of “unlimited free texts forever” for customers who topped-up each month, the ASA considered that “consumers were likely to interpret the claim as containing an element of advertising puffery and were unlikely to infer that texts would be available literally forever.” Likewise, Procter & Gamble successfully defended a cat’s “comments” in their TV ad for Iams dry cat food (“Don’t get me wrong I like water; I just prefer to drink mine”) as either puffery, or just the individual cat’s feline opinion...

Advertising & Marketing Newsnotes: Distinguishing between mere puffery and misleading claims, Geraint Lloyd-Taylor for Lewis Silkin, 25 Jan 2013

ODO: puffery

Exaggerated or false praise

There has always been a fine line between legitimate puffery and misleading advertising.

Savvy readers soon learn to discount this overt puffery.

Overall, though, despite the blizzard of facts and figures, both candidates generally limited themselves to modest exaggerations and standard issue political puffery.

4

What comes to mind is hyperbole, as MW says:

extravagant exaggeration (as “mile-high ice-cream cones”)

This does not cover the ungrammatical use that your example shows, but it certainly covers most instances of advertising extravaganza as well as over-enthusiastic review texts.

  • 1
    I think the OP is specifically looking for a description of the superfluous words used in much hyperbole. – itsbruce Dec 1 '14 at 13:32
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    Yes, I'm looking for the description of the words rather than the method. – pfff Dec 1 '14 at 13:55
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    The words which effect hyperbole are hype. – Jim Reynolds Dec 1 '14 at 17:09
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    I forget, does the Hyperbole come before or after the Sugar Bowl? – Hot Licks Dec 1 '14 at 20:40
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    @JimReynolds You should make this an answer. – Chris Sunami Dec 1 '14 at 21:06
1

To be pedantic, pfff asked for the word that means words that are inane which are used for emphasis. That is, not the name of otherwise useful words which have been exploited to make an emphatic statement.

Silly or inane words are those like "Yowza" or "Ginormous". Therefore, perhaps a suitable name for such words is "onomatopes"?

0

The term weasel word describes a word that is intended to affect the reader or listener without making a quantifiable claim or contributing any specific information. This phrase is frequently used in the context of marketing and politics.

Weasel words can induce the "wow" factor you mention by making vague positive claims, e.g. "Our product is the best at removing stains!" (best doesn't define what the product does or how it does it). They can also cushion hurtful, intense, or controversial information, e.g. "This is relatively poor behavior." (relative to what? this simply attempts to soften the phrase's impact).

-1

I would call the usage pleonasm, although not the words themselves.

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