English Teacher Article 'Absolutely'

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'Absolutely' is currently very commonly used, especially in the media and by politicians as a general purpose intensifier to show sincerity. Does this erode the meaning or add to it?

At first glance, many might complain that the exact meaning of the word is being lost through its current overuse. However, I feel that this is not necessarily the case. A word can acquire a new sense and vogue without losing its original meaning. Given that its current meaning is related to its original meaning and so nothing has really been lost.

Categories: General

6 Comments

The current overuse of "absolutely" potentially eroding the sincerity of the speaker would, I think, depend on who the speaker is, and also perhaps the context.
It's interesting that you differentiate between the word's current "related" meaning and its "original" meaning. Could you, Tdol, please explain this differentiation? If you mean that the vogue has changed in a looser, almost slangy way, then I don't think this is new, i.e.
"Do you like my purple hair colour?"
"Absolutely!"
Perhaps this is not what you meant though:-)

I din't mean that, but it is thrown about in current political discourse. I have heard 'absolutely voted'- how do you partially vote? Here, the use is clearly wrong, but the speaker wishes to emphasise the strength of their belief. It has become a marker for sincerity detached from it's original meaning, IMO. ;-)

I can’t believe that I am the first person to respond to the fact that “absolutely’ has become one of the most used words ever. 99% of people don’t realize this due to the fact that no one has mentionred this to them. For those who have read this will now become aware of this fact and you too will soon go looney over its use.

I have instructed my wife to put
‘ABSOLUTELY’ on my tombstone.

mr.bill

I'm with you 'Mr Bill' It drives me nuts! Television presenters& sports commentators are some of the worst culprits. EG;I was watching the Olympic games Triathlon & road cycling.These 2 commentators are talking about the finer details of the sport & every time 1 of them would answer the other, beginning with that Bloody Abso Bloody Lutely!
It's as if it's a habit as it is absolutely used in the wrong context & Absolutely does not make sense at all!

Right On!
Paul

I agree with Tdol and I have had the exact same thought in the last couple of days or so. I agree with fleur-de-lys to some extent, though I think that they are a tad cynical and are the type of person who would argue the colour of the sky.
I have a colleague who uses it daily in every conversation she has. To me, it strips sincerity from 'her' statements as she uses it far too often. In my mind I termed it a 'hide behind' word because 'she' can say it and not really mean it, again because of the frequency she uses it.
To be honest, I think that anyone who doesn't try to say something original is bland and uninteresting. I'm not talking of education or lack of but rather taking an interest in what you are saying.
Something else that also gets my goat - using reflexive pronouns when an object pronoun should be used. Example "Can you please give the document to myself when you're finished please". I actually had a debate with my boss over its use. She said it sounded more formal. You know why that is? Because managers say it. That's it.
God, I'm an angry man.

I'm going to try to get "indubitably" to catch on :)

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