Ginormously annoyed at Merriam-Webster

I guess it should come as no surprise that I am now officially on the losing end of my years-long battle against the word, ginormous. Trying to curry favor with the post-literate generation, those old bus drivers Merriam and Webster have officially added ginormous to their dictionary, as reported by the AP and regurgitated here by CBS.

“There will be linguistic conservatives who will turn their nose up at a word like `ginormous,”’ said John Morse, Merriam-Webster’s president.

You bet there will be, and we’re mad as Hatters. Come on guys, ginormous isn’t even in the OSPD, and they’ll take anything. Has the world really changed so much that we need more words that mean big? What does ginormous give us that gigantic and enormous didn’t? Were they not big enough? What, if anything, is the difference between those two words anyway? It just seems gratuitous to me, and it sounds like it should be spelled gynormous and mean really big and also female. (I think there should be an illustration by R. Crumb next to the definition under that spelling.)

I’ve always been a fan of using big, even made up, numbers to denote serious bigness. Instead of saying, “That was a ginormous waffle I had for breakfast!” one might say, “That waffle I ate must have had about a zillion grams of fiber in it!” Although wikipedia lists umpteen “indefinite and fictitious numbers” including zillion, they omit my personal favorite, the engagingly modest exaggeration, eleventeen.

I love a good neologism or portmanteau as much as the next red-blooded American man, (probably more) but not every one should get added to the dictionary. I say no new words for big until you’ve used up the ones we already have. I guess I have to get used to the fact that we already have ginormous.

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2 comments

  1. mark

    Has been around since 1948… It’s a word. People use it. Native speakers like it because it fits perfectly in some situations where other words just ain’t the same. If they included “then” as a variant of “than”, for instance, I could understand some uproar. But this is just mundane lexicography. Words change and get added to languages all the time. Go have a beer and relax or something.

  2. Pingback: Day of the day: Juneteenth | limeduck

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