Five Adjectives You Should Be Using, Instead of “Amazing”

"Amazing" is easily the most overused word of the decade. Everything is amazing, now, I’m told. Every new song, every season finale of every television show, every beverage at Starbucks, amazing, amazing, amazing. Using the same go-to adjective as everyone else all the time is just lazy and uninteresting... and you don't want to be lazy and uninteresting, do you? (Just say "no".)

This week…

Five Adjectives You Should Be Using, Instead of “Amazing”

I’m a lover of language. At least, I’m a lover of the one language over which I currently hold command (I do want to learn another one but, y’know, one thing leads to another and then I’m asleep and it’s June and… look, I just don’t have time for Spanish right now, ok?).

Therefore, as someone who always makes an effort to utilize a semblance of correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation, I try to keep it all fresh, all the time. Now, while I am a huge fan of the NBA’s “Where Amazing Happens” campaign, the adjective in question is the most overused of the decade. Everything is amazing, now, I’m told. Every new song is amazing. Every season finale of every television show is amazing. Every beverage being sold at Starbucks is amazing. Amazing, amazing, amazing. Sometimes “amazing” literally means that something is historic and unprecedented and other times, it is being used as a synonym for “hilarious” – the word is universally used and overused and used again. At this point, how can anyone be amazed at anything, anymore? If you’re amazed all the time, then that means everything is dually not amazing. On top of that, it’s just lazy and uninteresting when you use the same go-to adjective as everyone else. And you don’t want to be lazy and uninteresting, do you? (Just say no.)

So, in order to help you get going on the path of becoming an accomplished wordsmith, I’m going to give you the five adjectives you should be using, instead of amazing…

5. Remarkable

Really, if the mere knowledge of the existence of something forces you to talk or write about that something… that something is remarkable. It fits best in settings centered on great achievements in science and art, I’ve noticed. Both that stem cell breakthrough that may cure blindness and Banksy are pretty remarkable despite being completely different, inherently. Basically, imagine saying this word in a British accent, with a pipe in your mouth, while wearing a lab coat and you’ll know where and when it best fits.

4. Splendid

Probably the “softest” word on this list, ‘splendid’ is best utilized in only a few certain situations – generally those that directly affect you yet occur outside your control. You won free stuff at a raffle? Splendid. Your jerk of a co-worker was stranded in the parking lot with a flat tire after bragging about his car, all day? Splendid. AMC is running GHOSTBUSTERS and GHOSTBUSTERS II back-to-back tonight in high def? Splendid. It’s pretty simple.

3. Astounding

I would rank this higher but I am not because I remain unsure what it truly means to be astounded and I’d rather be too cautious than too confident. As such, this word is a real specialist – it doesn’t apply to everyday situations as well as it should. No matter how many games I watch, I still think that Lebron James is astounding. That new carpet that I claimed I loved? It’s nice and all but I was not nor will I ever be overwhelmed with surprise when I see it so, by definition, it cannot be defined as “astounding.” Understand?

2. Phenomenal

I love any adjective from which a noun can be derived and “phenom” is a great (and dually underused) word. Additionally, ‘phenomenal’ is a real jack of all trades – it can be used for every sort of situation. A person, a movie, a meal, an object, and a moment can all be phenomenal; that sort of blanket language-compatibility is very unique.

1. Marvelous

This one, as the #1 suggests, is my absolute favorite. As indicated above, some adjectives have a bit of a “genre” attached to them, in terms of where and when they work best (example: you can say “STAR TREK was righteous” but that word really won’t fly when used to describe your mom’s homemade pound cake). There are no restrictions on ‘marvelous’. No, sir. It’s fun to shout with your hands in the air, it’s nice to say in a semi-serious tone in the middle of a dinner party conversation, and it’s perfect for when you’re talking about video games with your contemporaries. Further, it’s not a word a lot of people under 50 use in conversation which means it’s distinctive but its panache is not so great that the word will confuse anyone else. A marvelous word, it is.

Justin Brown is an artist and writer living in Virginia. He channels most of his enthusiasm into making things for his online art shop, Artness! by Justin Brown. You can keep up to date with him, his worldly adventures, and his dogs by following him on Instagram and on Facebook

  • soo

    I’m a particular fan of using the word spectacular. An old co-worker of mine used it all the time 😉

  • student

    this post was amazing.

  • Haitham


  • Pingback: Five Great Words That Probably Aren’t in Your Vocabulary | Primer()

  • Mary Dabney

    Bagittity. Can be used to describe many manners of bagitutude

  • Laura Ricketts

    I would say that this was an amazing commentary,and that as a result; I clearly need to receive future musings. Although I am not a man, nor do I aspire to be a better one, I do love intelligent, articulate conversation. Write on!

  • Judith Haber

    I was surprised to see ‘very unique’ used here. Unique is not modifiable. It does snot mean ‘unusual’; it means ‘the only one’.
    Physician, heal thyself!

  • Brent Billock

    I pray you used “very unique” in jest. If you have a column on words and their use, you absolutely cannot be unaware that uniqueness is a binary condition. Either something is one-of-a-kind or it is not. There are no degrees of uniqueness.

    This misuse is so common and absolutely drives me up a wall. So to preserve my respect for you, I’ll choose to believe that you chose to write it scherzando.

  • Brian

    You had me in the palm of your hand until you came up with this non-word:


    My dear linguist, the noun complement to ‘phenomenal’ is ‘phenomenon.’

    • Joe

      You need to check a dictionary once in a while.

      • omid

        it seems its yr job dear to have yr distinctly ample bosom in a dictionary…

  • Peter Roscoe

    Equally overused and misapplied is the word “awesome.” What word are we to use then, the first time we gaze upon Yosemite Valley?

    • Cera Drake-Snijders

      How about “breathtaking”???

  • omid

    what a remarkably well-done work.

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  • Robert Cooke


  • n

    Amazing! Thanks!

  • Lydia Long

    On facebook, every child photo, dog picture, hiking trail, lake view, family gathering, home project and recipe is ‘amazing.’

  • JSpicoli

    This word makes me steam. I searched this to see if anyone else is sick of the lazy and unintelligent overuse of this word and here i am.

    Think how it sounds in 2017, if we hated it in 2009.


  • Realist.45

    I like to use “stellar” or the Japanese fave: “super.” All these home-reno shows have some woman saying “Amazing” every five seconds as she goes through the house. I love you mute button!