Horrified by Horrific

I am not a grammar cop.

In fact, I am not particularly impressed by people who purvey their proofreading skills as their primary source of value. I don’t dislike these people necessarily, I just see them as technically focused service providers for whom original thought or creativity come well behind the obvious pleasure they derive from living in their rule-driven, often nit-picky and overly bureaucratic, comfort zone. Horrific_01

I’m sure that conversely, they see people like me as the kid who, “Doesn’t test well.”

While I value good editing, let’s just agree to disagree about where it lies on the food chain of the creation of readable prose.

With that preamble, rivaling that of the Old Testament in length, can I just request that we all aggressively back off the word “horrific?”
Don Heck, 1953, Horrific #3. www.pulpfictiononline.com
I know many things are indeed horrific. But as God is my witness, I am now hearing it 20 times a day.. often two or three times in the same article or report.

The examples are so many, and span so many outlets both local and national, it would be cruel to point out any particular example. After all, we don’t blame people for catching the flu and spreading it around the world.

That’s what “horrific” has become though: A nausea-inducing virus that seems to have infected the world’s word processors like H1N1.

As is the case for many editorial viruses like this one, the proverbial bar that serves as the standard for its use continues to move lower and lower. I have heard a lot of fairly commonplace daily events be labeled as “horrific.”

Can we stop already?

If you find yourself writing “horrific,” just take a second to pause. Is it really horrific? Is there a way to use a word you haven’t used six times in the past week, or the past six paragraphs, to describe the situation?

I’m just asking.

And again, I’m not a grammar or writing cop. One thing I’ve learned about the whole grammar thing is that there is always a faster gun ready to point out the fact that your grammar and writing are, well, horrific.