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Okay, fine

January 28, 2008

When did fine become the same as okay?

I don’t think the word fine has totally crossed into the land of mediocrity, but it’s close. With the exception of a few phrases, (‘A fine painting‘ for example implies excellence.)when I am told something is fine, I classify it as okay. Okay means that it’s not bad, but it’s not very good either.

This evening, I went here to check out the definition of fine. What a surprise! Fine = ‘of superior quality, skill or appearance’. Fine is also equated with choice, excellent or admirable. Admirable, choice, superior are all a far cry from okay.

WhyBack to my question, when did fine become okay? Or perhaps. why did fine become okay?

Here’s my hypothesis:

At one time in the english language, fine retained it’s original meaning. Then it became used so much, that this admirable adjective became tired and worn out from overuse. The overuse tarnished fine‘s image and soon fine was hanging out with the adequate adjectives such as okay and all right. Occasionally fine finds itself being used in a way that is comparable to fine‘s glory days, but for the most part, fine is caught in the land of mediocre adjectives, wondering how it ended up in such a state.

In order to test my hypothesis, I need to select another adjective, subject it to overuse and evaluate the results. Some possibilities include:

  • awesome
  • fabulous
  • excellent
  • really good

Can you think of any others?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Doug Winters permalink
    January 29, 2008 10:46 am

    Just. As in “Lord we just want to…” or “Lord, we just need…” Drives me crazy simply because we want, need, far more than what we preface with “we just…” And yet, when I’m hearing that phrase used in prayer (and only in prayer, it seems) I think it’s being used to insert a teaspoon of piety into the overall paragraph.

    Now, flip side: I was terrible with things like direct and indirect objects, sentence graphing. Totally lost cause on that stuff. In fact, I remember waiting with great apprehension to see who my 8th grade English teacher would be. God was kind and my sentence graphing will never have a chance. Which is to say, I have no clue if I’m giving an example of an adjective here. I “just” know this is a guaranteed way to distract me when someone’s praying out loud. Maybe if more people embraced the 23 concept?

  2. January 29, 2008 7:57 pm


    Did a quick check and ‘just’ can be an adjective or an adverb! Telling you that because I thought you’d find that ironic, given your confession about identifying parts of speech.

    Yes, I would agree. The use of ‘just’ is distracting. Perhaps I just need to take some time and just think about if it’s necessary to use it. 🙂

  3. Your mom permalink
    February 1, 2008 11:58 am

    I think some people have too much time on their hands

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