Posted by: Tom Gaddis | November 9, 2009

Awesome, Groovy, Tight, or Legit?

1198751_wowDo you ever have one of those pull-out-your-hair moments when all you can think to say is “awesome”? Awesome is a great word, but in my case it’s too over used. If my vocabulary were a linen closet this word would be threadbare and frayed—ready for the rag bin.

Lately life has been so full and rich with God’s blessings. I was given a motorcycle, an oak tree for firewood, a great weekend with my mom and sister, precious time with my family and friends, an amazing communion on Sunday and I helped at our church outreach. All caused me to say to others, “It was awesome.”

So I’m presently frustrated with the limitations of language—my language and I am on the hunt for synonyms for the word awesome. Isn’t it interesting that each generation seems to have tried out different expressions to convey the awesomeness of their experiences? Which of these words did you ever use regularly?

1950’s—“Mind-boggling,” “Splendid!”, “Nifty,” “Tops,” or “Neat-o,”

1960’s—“Boss,” “Cool,” “Far out!!!!”, or “Groovy.”

1970’s—“Tight,” “Solid,” “Gnarly,” “Primo,” or “Stoked.”

1980’s—“Sweet,” “Killer,” or “Rad(ical).”

1990’s—“To-die-for,” “Sick,” or “Bad.”

2000’s—“Tubular,” “Legit,” “The bomb.”

Help me out. What word or words do you presently use to communicate when something is awesome?



  1. Words I use: amazing, COOL, unbeliveable, breathtaking, incredible ; David uses remarkable and staggering ; the boys use WOW alot and a few other words they get in trouble for ; more that come to mind – astonishing, astounding, mind-boggling and inconceivable.

    Only regular words – I’m just not that cool anymore!
    Love you, Cindy

    • Thanks Cindy-I cut and pasted your word suggestions to keep them in front of me so they might imprint on my tongue. I also am responding to a friend who just sent me some…remarkable, amazing, and astonishing photos. Thanks and cool is overated. tg

  2. So…in answer to the first question, I am stuck in the ’60s…with the exception of “to die for.” Maybe having kids in their teens in the ’90s caused that one to slip into my otherwise mature vocabulary.

    Awesome…well, if I think about it for more than a minute, my mind starts singing “Our God is an Awesome God,” a song that also dates me, but also defines awesome. If God is awesome, then nothing else can be, right? The bar is as high as it gets.

    Your observation is interesting, though. We do tend to overuse words and by doing so diminish them into meaninglessness. In my work I encourage writers to use stonger nouns instead of weak ones plus adjectives. That way, they can paint a vivid pictures with their words instead of leaving it for the reader to interpret. What might be awesome to me could be horrific to someone else.

    But it goes without saying, Tom, that you are an awesome pastor.

    • Thank you Jeanette for your thoughtful observations. And I like “to die for” as a sub for awesome when used of something less than God. But then again He is someone to die for, isn’t He? Also, Sue had a blast with you on the writer’s retreat and says your a “classy” lady. I, of course, have known this and agree 100%. tg

  3. Ok Tom, to get the full impact and effect, you HAVE to say these with an English accent. If you need lessons in that department my friend, I’d be glad to help. So, this is what I would say…Fabulous, or to make it REALLY emphasized I’d say Absolutely Fabulous (Not to be confused with a British Comedy of the same name). Another expression is Bloody Brilliant, with the same vocal emphasis on both words. If less expression is required, then you can slide by with just saying ‘brilliant’.
    Just think, you could start a new trend by using these words and then people would think you were so original that they’d copy you. That’s how ‘word’ trends take of I am sure!
    Other suggestions are Splendid, Magnificent, Marvelous and Wondrous. I can just see my self back in old Blighty having conversations with my relatives…these are the kinds of words we’d use and I’d be happy to share them with you! That’s what friends are for 🙂

    • Brilliant? I think I like that. The “Bloody” part–ummmm? I will look for opportunities to use this phrase. It’s kind of like trying on a brand new shirt–does it fit, does it look good on me? I’ll let you know. Love, tg

  4. It occurred to me just yesterday that Fran can utter “whilst” and “learnt” to her heart’s content and make unintentional poetry out of the most ordinary of sentences.

    For American-born citizens, such words may smack of pretentiousness when placed among our more familiar “suh-weeet!” and “the biz-om.” Ah, but no big. I dig the complexity of our Yankee linguistic stew.

    ~ With this, I shall now take my leave…

    • I love how you can write out “suh-weeet”. How do you do that is there a spelling key somewhere for this? Also lady, what word do you typically use when describing the awesome? Yours Truly, tg

  5. While going through my Dads stuff we were looking at my Moms yearbooks too. Seems that “swell” was the word of that day. (1940ish) I like swell and have used it many times as well as gee whiz and wow. LOL!…and yes I use “LOL” alot since I have discovered chatting online with my friends. I think “LOL” falls into the same catagory as “awesome” as far as being used too much but it gets the job done best.

    • Hi Barbie. I’m thinking about “swell”. If this word were a salsa on my grocery store shelf, I would rate it “mild”. I like the word, but I’m looking for that word that–in salsa terms is extra hot! Wow…I think I need a burrito right now! Thanks for your input. I think next time I do this article (if ever again) I will add “swell” to the 40’s.

      How is it not having your Mom and Dad with you anymore? You doing OK?

      Your Friend,


  6. Hi Tom, When I think of GOD. I think of the word. Stunning. I’m sure if I were to get a glimpse of HIS beauty, HE would be “Stunning”.

    • Terry–I like this word. It may be my favorite that I’ve had shared with me. Thanks. tg

  7. Tom, pretty good list there. I probably overuse awesome too. But, mostly I’m stuck in the 60’s. Speaking of which, you forgot a couple from that decade, such as outta sight (or maybe out-o-sight) and the one my buds and I used alot (much to the disgust of our patents) – bitchin’. Best wishes with the motorcycle and remember – keep the rubber side down.

    • Hi Steve, Yeh thanks for the reminders. I use to say “out of sight” all the time. I completely forgot about it. I did avoid using “bitchin” to avoid negative feedback from any who might think it was a slur on female kind. But it was a very popular phrase that had nothing to do with male chauvinism.

      Also, I have seen Matt coming to church and am encouraged by this. Let us know from your end if things come up that we should know about with him. We would like to keep connected and be there for him.


  8. Hi Tom. I have thought of many things to ask my Dad since he past. It would have been nice if he had felt better so I could have talked more with him. I do miss them both. Barbie

    • This reminds us to make these fleeting days really count and to take no one for granted which has been a sin of mine in the past. We should do eulogies to parents and friends to their face–telling them how much they have meant to us–rather than after they pass. Also we need to listen to their stories…now. Thanks for your response.

      your friend,


  9. Oh, I was going to add another word that I don’t necessarily use to often but Steve Pipenburg beat me to it. Although I have been know to say it when riding Indiana Jones at Disneyland. That would be bitchen. :>)

    • Thanks for the link, Jeanette. Something I need to think about with my Mom right now. Thank you.

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