We Use the Word Awesome Too Easily and Selfishly

We misuse superlatives, God alone deserves our highest praise
"Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say 'infinitely' when you mean 'very'; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite." ~ C.S. Lewis 

Lewis understood a common writing and speaking mistake: using big words when simple ones will do and using God-descriptive superlatives too liberally.

Awesome is perhaps the most misused. We use it for a delicious hamburger, for a loved one, for a vacation and for God. 

Are we crazy? God and hamburgers?

The definition of awesome: extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear. Synonyms: breathtaking, awe-inspiring, staggering... 

I don't think anyone or anything is truly awesome except God. 

Wonderful, yes. Awesome, no. 

Maybe it's not important, but I see our Christian culture growing more in awe of ourselves and less in awe of God. And I wonder if we've grown to believe that "awesome" applies to things it doesn't. 

Sometimes wording matters. What do you think?

6 comments:

  1. Wow, Gail, great post. Definitely something to think about...

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  2. Hi Gail! I love your last lines about maybe we are growing more in awe of ourselves.

    But, I also think it's sloppy language usage. We keep trying to outdo each other in describing a hamburger, and run it all the way up to 'awesome'. I think it's done innocently, but I like the idea that there are some words that are more appropriate to God than to meals.

    Happy Tuesday!
    Ceil

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  3. Wow! It's so encouraging to see someone else thinking this same thing! Thank you for posting this. It sometimes makes me cringe to hear the word "awesome" coming SO often out of our young people's mouths for EVERYTHING! Thanks for the reminder to be careful with our words.

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  4. My mother taught me that "only God is Awesome". Now, many years later, I have been teaching it to my children. My oldest, 5 years old, tends to tell anyone that uses the word "awesome": "Only God is Awesome!" =)
    Out of the mouths of babes...

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    Replies
    1. That sounds like us! I was also taught that same thing, and my (almost) 5 year old was informing his friend at church that "We don't say that. God is awesome!" It was so cute to hear, and it's true. Way too many things are spoken of as "awesome" but God only is truly deserving of such a word. Our burger is not "awesome" but it may be very tasty. :) If we get some good news, it is not "awesome", but it is wonderful. Etc. :)

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  5. I have always wondered why the word love is used so loosely also. In the example above, using the word awesome to describe God and a hambuger is construed as disrespectful. May it then be surmised that saying I love hamburgers or anything else, is also disrespectful to God.

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