Do you ever feel this way about certain words?

Every once in a while certain words seem to become trendy. You don’t notice them at all and then suddenly they begin to appear everywhere. About 25 years ago it seemed like the phrase hunker down was being used a lot, from travel and camping stories to politics. In 2009–2010 the word of the day seemed to be muscular.

In 2014 I observed that the word was still in circulation. I noticed it in an essay about Walt Whitman’s poetry. Then suddenly it seemed that nearly every day I was hearing something being referenced as muscular. “The U.S. needs to make a muscular response to the situation in Iraq,” was on the news one of those mornings.

This week I learned this backstory to the emergence of this word during a Hillary Clinton media incident in which her slip was showing.

There were more details unearthed that got shared here:

In light of the stink raised by the above incident I was somewhat surprised to see the muscular lingo being circulated, headlining this Hillary item in a 2015 Huffington post story.

So here we go again, in a 2018 Medium article by Taylor March, the second paragraph first sentence states, “If there’s one word that represents Clinton’s muscular view of American foreign policy…”

Of course Hillary’s not the only muscular politician in Washington, as this U.S. News story pointed out:

EdNote: This is not a jab a Dems. My complaint is the use of a word that I’d prefer to see used in only conjunction with athletes or dystrophy.

There’s another word I became weary of hearing a couple years back, the word “awesome.” It so annoyed me that I wrote a blog post on it.

When words and phrases are overused, they become cliches. As anyone who has ever been to a writer’s conference knows, cliches are a no-no for writers who are serious about their craft. The definition says it all: “a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.”

By way of contrast, check out this line from Bob Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man: “But for the sky there are no fences facing.” In other words, “The sky is the limit.” Except he avoided the cliche and enriched us with the image it paints.

My response: Awesome! That’s just one more reason I’m a Dylan fan.

If you hear someone use the word muscular today, I’d like to hear about it. On second thought, maybe I’d rather not.

Any guesses about what you think the most overused word of 2019 will be?

The first couple paragraphs were originally published at my blog:
Thanks for reading.

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon

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