The yuckiest word in the English language

You’re at the doctor’s.

– Open wide your mouth. Say “aaaah.

– Aaaaaaaaaah.

– Say it coupla times.

– Aaaaahhh, aaaaaaaaahhhh, aaaaaahhh

– That’s aaaaahsome. Now shuddup.

In the wide wide world or sitting in front of the TV. Make it the TV. Turn to any North American food programme or “American pickers,” or just about anything to do with feeding your eyes, your stomach or your face, and you’re sure to hear (that’s) “aaaahhhhsome.” “That 1920s coke sign is aaahhsome.”

 

coca cola sign

 

If you’re watching a non-American English programme (say British, Australian, South African) you’ll hear something else: say aaaahhh. Keep it coming out of your throat but round your lips. “Oooorsome.”

I hate that word to pieces. It was not always that way because it hasn’t been that long since all English expletives of impressiveness have been sacrificed to the gods of “Cool” and “Awesome.” As Jews and Christians know, “awesome” used to mean “inspiring deep reverence and healthy fear.”

“Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How AWESOME is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

(Genesis 28:10-17)

Sadly, even among Christians, “awesome” is used as a superlative for “cool.” And it’s not rare to find preachers using it in the pulpit: “It was awesome” (describing the “fellowship” {becoming fast another icky word} at the recent church picnic).

Hang on, think I’m going to, going to aaaahhh, aaaahhh, aaaahh TISHOOOO; all over you.

Please forgive.