Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Two words to retire

Every now and then, words blast out of the lexicon and elbow their way into every article, blog, or tweet. Within weeks, their welcome is worn out because they're pushing other and perhaps more colorful words to the sidelines. With the speed of communication today, a word can become a cliche in about 48 hours.

My two candidates for the Boy-I'm-Really-Sick-of-These-Words Award are iconic and snarky. Chrysler and GM are iconic corporations that build iconic brands with iconic nameplates. I can live with that, I guess, but now I'm also reading every day about iconic TV shows. Iconic movies. Iconic foods. Iconic style. Even iconic sunglasses and lipstick shades. Not to be iconoclastic, but I bet we can stumble along with other words. Popular, perhaps, or well-known, or even beloved.

When someone recently referred to something I'd written as snarky, I thought it was relatively descriptive. But suddenly I have so much company in Snarkville that I'm thinking of moving out. Anything that's a little snide, a little sarcastic, a little cynical, is now snarky. I like having a choice. Will I be sardonic today? Or caustic? Sassy? Mocking? Maybe derisive or supercilious. But not snarky. Not anymore.

Let's all get out our thesauruses (I love that word; for me it always conjures up a really erudite dinosaur who wears thick glasses) and find some apt replacements for words that have lost their zing.

72 comments:

O. Richard Kindig said...

I was looking for something descriptive or representative to substitute for iconic, but all I could find were allegorical, illustrative, connotative, or indicative stopgaps, none truly denotative and most rather inauspicious. So while I wish to agree I find myself leaving a good-natured post whose iconography definitely appears snarky.

Thanks for communicating!

gretchen said...

Dick--

I agree, but when Farrah Fawcett died the day after I wrote this post, which made me very sad because I think she was a brave lady, one of the things that interested me was how often something about her was referred to as iconic. Her iconic poster. Iconic hair. Iconic smile. It was definitely icon overkill.

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