the history of awesome

Over the weekend Google Labs launched their Books Ngram Viewer which lets you search for any word you can dream up within thousands of books dating back to the 1500's, and puts it into a fancy graph so you can see when the word was first used and when it was most popular.

So, of course, we did a search of some of our favorite words to see what we'd find. Enjoy!

Awesome (chart above) was first mentioned as early as 1710 and peaked in the 80's, but Google has text for as early as 1825 in the Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language revealing that it started out meaning something not so awesome:

AWSOME, Awesome, adj. 1. Appalling, awful, causing terror, S. " A sight of his cross is more aw some than the weight of it ... Expressive of terror.

And of course, Humongo (above) does not appear at all from 1700 - 2008, therefore proving our supreme originality.

Searching for slang, swear words, and lame marketing buzzwords provides hours of entertainment, so go at it!

1 comment:

Sarah said...

This is, well, awesome. Heh.

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