Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pet Peeve #2 – Incredible!

The stock market crash is incredible.  I don't want to talk about it.

I hear the word “incredible” used 100 times or more per day.  The other day in the car I heard a commencement address by Michelle Rhee, whom I really like, but she used the word at least 20 times.  It seems to be the adjective of our lifetimes to express many other things that could be said.

If you remember the film Princess Bride (1987), the character played by Wallace Shaun often exclaimed “Inconceivable!” perhaps in ironic mimicry of those who continue to cry “Incredible!”  (Shaun is the guy below Mandy Pitankin and Andre the Giant.  See Wallace in My Dinner with Andre and Uncle Vanya on 42nd Street.)

There was even a film called The Incredibles!

No word seems to show our laziness about words than “incredible.”  We could stop and think and use another word.  How about “inconceivable” or “unbelievable” if that is what we mean.  I tend to use “amazing,” “astonishing,” or “astounding” more frequently instead.  How about improbable, unlikely, unconvincing, baffling, befuddling, mystifying, bewildering, or stupifying?

A thesaurus search generated these additional options, depending on the situation or your actual meaning:  absurd, far-fetched, fishy, implausible, impossible, improbable, outlandish, preposterous, questionable, ridiculous, suspect, thin (some of these must be said ironically), unconvincing, unimaginable, unsubstantial, untenable, marvelous (be like Billy Crystal!), awe-inspiring, awesome (on rare occasions), extraordinary, fabulous, glorious, great, prodigious, superhuman, unreal, wonderful, fascinating, marvelous, prodigious, shocking, stunning, surprising, extraordinary, strange and wonderful, bizarre, boss (outdated), curious, exceptional, fab (also outdated), fantastic, flash (my Australian son-in-law uses this), gnarly, heavy, outstanding, phenomenal, remarkable, stupendous, unprecedented, or merely – terrific.

I'll bet we can  surprise each other with even more creative and improved vocabulary.

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