As they do every year, the language kvetches at Lake Superior State University published their List of Banished Words (that’s actually the current list, there is no permanent URL for the 2007 list, which will probably be here someday). One of the banished words this year is “awesome”.
Their reason for banishment is that the word is used indiscriminately for all sorts of out of the ordinary situations. Its meaning has also changed: it used to mean inspiring awe, but now merely means really good.
But this is not unusual. In fact, it seems to me that most of the words we have for “really good” used to have more specific meanings: great, terrific, fabulous, wonderful, amazing, brilliant, fantastic, magnificent, excellent. I don’t know if this is unusual to English. All of the words available to us for expressing extreme delight have very specific meanings lost over time as the word is used to exclaim about what pleases us most.
We could certainly choose our words more carefully, find more precise and unusual adjectives to express ourselves. In writing, I’m sure you’ll find far fewer uses of “awesome” than you do in everyday speech. But using “awesome” as the current best word for best isn’t bad. It’s just language evolving, as languages do. Awesome!