Neil deGrasse Tyson Wants The Word 'Awesome' To Be Reserved For Science

Friday, 13 April 2018 - 6:23PM
Friday, 13 April 2018 - 6:23PM
Neil deGrasse Tyson Wants The Word 'Awesome' To Be Reserved For Science
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Neil deGrasse Tyson is very good at explaining scientific concepts and astrophysics in clear and concise ways, although he has a habit of getting pedantic whenever he's not doing that.

Case in point: Tyson thinks that people use the word "awesome" too much. In a recent Twitter post, he waxed poetic about how awesome is no longer a term which describes only scientific advancements which were so groundbreaking that they permanently changed some aspect of society - like curing Polio or the Moon landing - but now these goddang teens on his lawn keep using it to describe Game of Thrones:

On the one hand, he's probably right in a very technical way: awesome no longer means "something which inspires awe and wonder" so much as it means "something I think is pretty cool". On the other hand, it's been that way for a long time and started fairly early in the twentieth century, and his claim that it was used as a hyperbole so often that it watered down the word probably happened even before "his day".

Merriam Webster even has an aside on their definition for "awesome" regarding whether it's overused, saying it certainly has been watered down over the decades, but most modern critics of "awesome" in popular usage likely have no qualms about saying their dinner was "awful," the word's direct opposite.  

In fact, Merriam Webster responded directly to Tyson to say they weren't impressed.

So, is science still doing awesome things? Absolutely. Several groups like NASA and SpaceX are building rockets to send humans to Mars, we're getting better at developing advanced artificial intelligence, we're finally starting to get a handle on what exactly dark matter is, etc. All of those things are awesome.

Was the most recent episode Game of Thrones still awesome? Yeah, it was pretty awesome.

Science News