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Comparative And Superlative

February 20, 2022

Most of us are aware of our own language and the way it works its mysteries in a wide variety of settings. The nice thing about American English is its ability to change, grow and adapt as history moves forward. But who makes those language changes? We do!

The good folks at Merriam-Webster regularly add words to our language. In a like fashion, the internet’s Urban Dictionary keeps us abreast of less official changes in our language that come from the street. However, the engine that runs both is the collective will of the American people to be more clearly and precisely understood. In an effort towards better communication, we often use the comparative and superlative forms of our adjectives to hone in on exactly what we mean.

Comparative adjectives amplify the common adjective by comparison. Hence, tall becomes taller; small becomes smaller, etc. These adjectives are amplified further by the superlative form. Taller becomes tallest; smaller becomes smallest, etc. Most of us understand these basic concepts and apply them in everyday discourse. We don’t want a better deal; we want the best deal!

But what happens when a comparative and superlative do not exist for an adjective? Right! We invent one and eventually, it becomes part of the language. Let’s take an odd example. In recent times, the word douchebag has been used to describe a person who is a jerk, snobby or obnoxious. This evolved to referring to someone as being douchey. I suppose that this word is an adjective. But where are those familiar comparatives and superlatives? Why not douchier and douchiest? Example: He is douchier than most people and the douchiest one I know. Do these words exist? They do now.

There are probably some limits to this argument but maybe not. If a video clip is a viral video, then why not use more viral and most viral? Is the woman bitchy, bitchier or the bitchiest? Can a person with clammy hands also have hands that are clammier or clammiest? Can a person with pop corn hair be described as pop cornier or pop corniest? Yep!

Where do we go from here? We may just be the cleverest, douchiest crowd of linguists since the last ice age.

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One Comment
  1. Wouldn’t there only be one “the douchiest” or “the bitchiest?” Who decides which person gets the title? I personally know a few contenders. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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