I said in class recently that if you are a tech journalist with writer's block, the easiest way out is to write "The Death of ..." then fill in the blank with the first piece (or use) of technology that comes to mind - e-mail, blogging, laptops, PC games, console games, the iPad. OK, I haven't seen the last one yet, but it's only a matter of time. If linguistics blogging was as popular as tech blogging, we'd be writing the same thing about words, and it is in this spirit that I wrote the title "The Death of Awesome." OK, that should read "The Death of ‘Awesome’," but somehow it looks more portentous without the extra quotation marks.
Words go in and out of fashion, and occasionally die out completely, and this is nowhere more true than in words that mean "good" or "bad". I am swearing off the word "awesome" because it has got to the point where overuse presages decrepitude. We saw the same thing with "cool" some time around the turn of the millennium. Once Tony Blair started talking about "Cool Britannia" you knew the word's days were numbered. Soon David Cameron or Mitt Romney will say something is "awesome" and the entire population will look desperately for another word meaning "good". I suggest we strike preemptively. My preference is to revive some terms from the'60s. How about "groovy"? Or "fab"? And while we're at it, let's start ditch "dude" and start calling people "cats" again.