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April 26, 2023

If something is expensive, to what degree is it expensive? Answer: it is eyewateringly expensive.

            And if a sum of money is large, what kind of largeness must that be? Answer: it must be eyewateringly large.

            And if costs are high, they are high in what sense? This is too easy: they are eyewateringly high. 

            This intensifying adverb, always and only attached to mention of sums of money, has become the cliché of choice for journalists over the last few years. In fact there almost seems to be an editorial rule that if you’re talking about spending costs you are not allowed not to use it. The first time I encountered it – I would guess about five years ago – I thought it was quite expressive. Not any more. Its impact has been dulled by over-use. In fact, the more I see it, the more I think it doesn’t work. What does it actually mean? Is it a reference to crying? Or does it refer to the involuntary starting of tears that occurs if you get an unexpected biff on the nose? Either way, I’m tired of seeing it in print. Please make it stop. 


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  1. Simon Carter permalink

    Maybe all body part qualifiers should be banned – must prospects always be mouth watering? Must toes tap, jaws drop, hair rise, stomachs churn, hearts stop and buttocks clench?
    Give them the elbow.

  2. Brandon Robshaw permalink

    Quite agree. And toe-curling can go while we’re at it.

    • Simon Carter permalink

      Along with spine tingling, teeth gritting, flesh creeping, knee knocking and ear cocking.
      Rib tickling is already a disappearing art.

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