The Blight of AMAZING


Chicago_World's_Fair_1893_by_Boston_Public_Library

I first become aware of this mutant word amazing spreading over the land, in 1989, when I started work at Ralph Lauren in NYC.

The store manager, red-haired, tailored up to his ears in custom shirt, knotted tie, and dunked in half a gallon of Diptyque’s Olene, would take his hands and adjust our collars or necktie before releasing us onto the sales floor to insure we properly emitted the aura of Polo to the public.

We were only let go when he said: “You look a-mazing”.

Twenty-four years later, amazing has our tongues in a vize grip. Reality TV, HGTV, make-overs, cooking shows, tweats and texts, all of it is infected with amazing.

It isn’t hard to find. It comes out of Andy Cohen, Michael Kors, and any 13-year-old girl on Facebook.

Its usage fits in with the penchant for American exaggeration and hype, to create a super-sized sales pitch for ordinary events and mundane things: Amazing omelette, amazing frying pan, amazing kid, amazing coffee, amazing Mom, amazing day, amazing walk, amazing sun, amazing beer, amazing toilet paper.

Amazing was once was reserved for a spectacular and rare event, such as the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, which President Rutherford B. Hayes pronounced, “All surprisingly beautiful, amazing, unequalled…”

How noble and spectacular that World’s Fair was and how fittingly it was spoken of.

Once it bequeathed and anointed a World’s Fair. Now it is used in salad dressings and baked potatoes.

Here are some comments, chosen randomly, from the food blog White on Rice:

I love Cristina’s potatoes, they are amazing!

It’s amazing what can happen in a garden over a few summer days. Last week we headed up to Park City, UT for the amazing Evo Conference.

You’re photos are amazing and now I want to go visit Boulder CO!

We could see and smell the amazing flavors that a slow roasted fig could become.

When we asked all you amazing readers for tomato recipes, you all inspired us tremendously … Thank you for all that, you amazing people!

What you see before you are some truly luscious, silky, delicious and amazing blood orange bars.

That is all I have to say. I am off to go take an amazing dump…..

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6 responses to “The Blight of AMAZING

  1. This word makes me cringe. Out of curiousity, I’ve been keeping tabs as to how often I either see the word in print or hear the word. 8-10 times per day. No exaggeration. This word needs to be lifted to the rafters.

  2. love this, andy. so true…my British husband needs to read this as it is something he always comments on… the American’s over-used and over-rated use of the superlative… :-)

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