I'm reading a book by Dani Shapiro, Still Writing. It's written in short snippets or sections just long enough to be considered paragraphs. She is giving her experience to anyone who wants to read her process in writing, not the how to's of sentence structure or proper use of prepositions but her experience of distractions, life, and practice. I just finished up her thoughts on repetitive words and phrases. She gave the example from her book Black and White. The editor notices she had used the word muffled eleven times. She felt that was unusual because muffled wasn't a word she used in everyday life. She knew it was a clue she hadn't explored her thoughts deep enough that would be reflected throughout the story. No, this was more than grabbing a thesaurus and substituting words that meant the same as muffled, it was digging deeper into her character's life. This year for Lent I gave up sweets. No, that's not quite true, I gave up using the word sweet because it is the most overused word in Christendom, slightly beating out amazing. I understand we have amazing grace, how sweet the sound and a sweet, sweet spirit in this place, tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, sweet hour of prayer, swing low sweet chariot, in the sweet by and by, sweet Beulah land, every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before and wild and sweet their words repeat of peace on earth, good will to men...that's a lot of hymns with the word sweet included in them. But I don't think that is why we seem to use sweet as a descriptive word for everything nice. I was just seeing if you were paying attention.
Mainly women use the word sweet and sweet is especially a buzz word in women's ministry but here of late, the word sweet is on the rise in men. I think they have discovered that sweet can be used to cover a multitude of sins just like "bless your heart"....because we women have learned that using sweet can mask what's really in our hearts...yea, it's not the good, good stuff. All of us have used or have been the recipient of "my, wasn't that sweet of you" when those words meant the total opposite.
Almost everything and everyone is described as sweet especially noticeable on Facebook. My sweet husband, my sweet friend, our sweet time, sweet fellowship, sweet service, sweet song, and so on. Maybe we love using the word sweet because it comes naturally to us Baptists since we can be all things sweet when it comes to dessert. We have probably just fallen into the trap of just repeatedly using a word we see used all the time. Our husband, family and friends deserve better than sweet. For Lent anytime I used the word sweet ubiquitously I paid a dollar fine and at the end of Lent I gave that money to the order our adopted nuns belong to. Granted, I got pretty good at not using the word sweet since it wasn't an overly used word in my vocabulary, so I added in using the word nice...because I use it more often. At the end of Lent I sent in the sweet and nice money and more cause it wouldn't have been a very generous offering. I went to one thesaurus website and the following are just a few words suggested for use instead of sweet.
I would also add kind, generous, thoughtful to this list. The word sweet is just too abstract to be used for those we care about and those things and places we love. I'm not saying give up the word totally let's just rein it in a bit. Let's honor our friends and family with a better description and vocabulary.