Enormousness, or not...

When the original George Bush, the one with the sneer and the penchant for Japanese food was elected to the White House, he said that he “Couldn’t believe the enormity” of what had happened.

Now, you might think: What’s wrong with that? Being the new President of the United States is a massive job.

Well you’d be right; and you’d be wrong. Because while being the new President of the United States is a massive job, enormity (usually anyway...) shouldn’t come into it.

Enormity means ‘extreme evil’ so as an exercise in irony, good old George was pretty much bang on the money; but I don’t think it was his intention to announce the dawning of a new reign of terror. And anyway, if he did then I kind of admire his honesty.

It just shows how we all misuse words. And it’s when they get misused so often and by so many, that these skewed definitions just become common parlance.

For instance, ‘Fortuitous’ has come to mean something related to being fortunate; when in fact it has more to do with something happening at random and without design. And when someone says that they’re disinterested, we shouldn’t necessarily confuse that with a lack of interest; it actually means they’re unbiased, or neutral.  

Finally, I wanted to touch on the word ‘ultimate’. It’s come to be used in lists or TV shows as a way to describe the best of something: ‘The World’s Ultimate Roller-Coaster’ or ‘Peterborough’s Ultimate Pound Shop’. The word actually means the last in a list of items; not the best.

So in closing, don’t worry, thrill seekers - I doubt we’ve seen the world’s last roller-coaster, or alas, Peterborough’s last pound shop.

by James. February 2014.