I am going to take a rest from my usual second Tuesday subject of Commonly Confused Words to talk about a few words and phrases that I think are very overused in today's world. The unfortunate thing is that the overuse dilutes the meaning and/or impact of the words.
I am talking from a UK point of view, here, of course. These words and phrases may not be in common use in other parts of the English speaking world. They may interest some of you. though.
1. ICONIC or ICON.
Everything nowadays seems to be iconic. An icon was originally a religious picture. They were used in the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches and were usually pictures of Christ, the Virgin Mary, saints or angels and were used as aids to worship.
Another meaning of the word is a small picture or symbol that links to a program in computing.
Neither of these seem to fit the use of it as used commonly these days. It has come to mean something that represents something else.
'The Eiffel tower is an iconic building.' It represents Paris.
There are so many icons around these days! Nearly everythibng and everyone is an icon.
I'm afraid our American friends are largely responsible for this one. While there are some truly awesome sights and events in the world, much of the time this word is used, the users mean something really good. It won't fill them with awe and wonder, just make them feel excited and possibly surprised.
Having used the word 'wonder' above, it occurs to me that the word 'awesome' is going the same way as 'wonderful' and having its meaning diluted. What are we going to say to something truly awesome?
3. AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME.
As opposed to a moment out of time? where else is a moment except in time?
What's wrong with 'NOW'?
4. One beloved by football commentators. I'm still not sure how it came about.
This means that someone is going to do something , well, early! Why the 'doors' has been added, your guess is as good as mine. Are doors early? How are doors early? It irritates me.
5. VARIOUS DIFFERENT.
As opposed to various the same? Tortology, I think. Can you have a variety of things that are the same?
6. There are a couple of variations on this one.
THE REAL TRUTH, or THE TRUE FACTS.
You can't have either an unreal truth or untrue facts. It's either true or not, or it's a fact or not.
'Unique' means there is only one. It does NOT mean that something is unusual or rare. You cannot have things that are 'fairly unique', 'very unique' or any other modifier. Something is either unique or it's not. Period!
This word has come to mean some large event. We, in the UK have apparently been having floods of epic proportions. (Or else, if not epic, then of Biblical proportions!)
Epic is supposed to mean a monumental struggle of some kind, or something monstrously huge.
It originally meant a heroic story.
It is another use of a word being downgraded.
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