Monday, February 17, 2014

Word of the Week - A Few Trivializations

Now this is fantastic!
C&E Dragon by David Revoy


One thing I often flag when I'm editing and have to think about when I'm writing are those words that we use today in a rather un-amazing sense. Words that have come to mean an ambivalent "okay" or "nice." Words that used to mean a whole lot more.

The first one is fantastic. This is a word we commandeered to mean anything great or amazing. But it began with a very specific sense of "that belonging to the world of fantasy; imaginary." It wasn't until 1938 that it was trivialized to mean "wonderful, marvelous."

Next is fine. Fine has become a meaningless answer to the question "How are you?" We all reply "Fine." It's therefore taken on a "Meh" connotation. Sure, we still use it in a more pointed sense when talking about a fine point on the tip of our marker, but in general? I think if you ask most kids what the word means, they'd say it's a synonym with "okay." So-so. All right.

But of course, when we think about it, we realize that fine actually means "unblemished, of superior quality." Hence why in England it became an expression of unmitigated approval. Which we then took and overused until it ceased to mean much of anything, LOL. So next time someone asks you how you are, only say "fine" if you mean it. ;-)

2 comments:

  1. Just yesterday at church the pastor was talking about the word awesome. I hope you are doing fine today. ;)

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  2. Love this. I'm not fine, so I won't say it :)

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