Popularity has absolutely killed this word . . .

Have you noticed the little word “yes” seems to be taking a back seat to the bigger word “absolutely”? This grandiose adverb has become rampant, especially in on-camera interviews.

“Did road conditions contribute to this accident?”


“Do you think the proposed tax hike targets the wealthy?”


Perhaps using four syllables instead of one makes the reply sound more confident and authoritative. Regardless, the increasingly routine use of “absolutely” has brought vogue status to this once vibrant word. It now joins the ranks of other tired words such as “passion,” “proactive,” “synergy,” and “solution.” (Find more vogue words here.) All are valid—but overuse has drained them of energy.

Here’s an idea for a skit on Saturday Night Live. Imagine a cocktail party where bobble-heads swig Absolut from vodka glasses. Moving around the room, we catch snippets of conversations.

“I absolutely love what you’ve done with your hair. It is your hair, isn’t it?”

“Absolutely. That is your face, isn’t it?”

“His new Jaguar is absolutely the bomb. Have you ever ridden in a Jag?”

“Absolutely. And I’ve ridden in lots of bombs.”

“I absolutely must get the recipe for this roulade. Isn’t it delicious?”

“Absolutely. Have you looked on the Bisquick box?”

Vogue words come to mind easily, because they pummel us in an endless barrage. But better choices are almost always available on second thought.

Is the result worth the extra effort?


One thought on “Popularity has absolutely killed this word . . .

  1. Another too often used phrase is “I agree with you 150%” or “He always gives 150% effort on every play.” when I was younger, we had already accepted culturally that 100% would never cut it and that we would have to give 110% to be successful. At current growth rate, my grandchildren better be ready to give or to agree 200% or more just to be in the conversation.

    I vote for a culture that appreciates 100% effort for what it is…rare.

    Now that I think about it, I think I’m going to start saying things in percentages, but of 100%. Such as, “I agree with you 83%, and here is the 1/6th I disagree with…”

What do you think?