Letter to the Editor

Word play

Our language is dynamic and word meanings can change, often due to misuse. Take the word awesome. It did mean extremely impressive, but misuse has caused it to mean slightly better than average, as in she's awesome, or these cookies are awesome. But beware! If preceded by so, the meaning is diluted even more. So is like water. It dilutes everything it gets close to. She's so awesome means she's not too hot, but let's pretend she is.

Speaking of so, some people begin and end sentences with this watery word. For example: "So, how are you doing today?" "So, I'm doing okay. But my head hurts a little, so." This type of conversation would give anyone a headache.

And how about hero? It used to mean a person of noble qualities. Now almost anyone, other than serial killers and Republicans, are called heroes. And sometimes even Republicans can be heroes if they keep their political affiliation well hidden.

Forever is another lost word. Instead of meaning for all future time, it now means some mishmash of time, as in "It'll change your life forever," or "She's my forever cat." It's impossible to know what these statements mean, but they imply that events could extend into the afterlife. But we know the afterlife may not be an easily controlled bed of roses for many of us, felines included.

I'd like to discuss several other misused words, but space won't let me, so....

Gary L. Gaines, Cape Girardeau