A few weeks ago we discussed words that make us want to run directly into a pit of flaming piranhas. Many of them had to do with the nature of the sound they make (those with a sibilant “S,” for example), and others had to do with the context (moist, crusty, panty).
There is one word I left out, yet my distaste for it has nothing to do with the sound or context. In fact, it’s those two very components that drive me to use this word on an infuriatingly-consistent basis.
I cannot stand the word “chic.”
My anger toward this word stems from my personal overuse of it. It’s frustrating as a writer when no other synonym will work as well as the lesser option. Sure there are words like elegant, stylish, smart, sophisticated, but none have the same effortless ability to tack themselves on to nouns and create a new adjective.
Let’s say we wanted to describe one of the pink looks mentioned in Mattie’s story today but didn’t feel like actually saying that color, and likening it to an item of said color just wasn’t doing it for you. I’d probably — by nature of habit — add the word chic.
“That fall Céline coat is so cotton candy-chic.”
But strangely enough those synonyms we discussed earlier wouldn’t work here. “Elegant” just doesn’t have the same clippy and satisfying ring to it when compounded with another word. It’s too long. And cotton candy-elegant? What would that even mean?!
And therein lies another point. Adding chic to something doesn’t really mean anything either — in fact our overuse of the word renders it even more pointless, much like when you repeat “spoon” over and over until it seems completely wrong.
The worst part of all is now that I’ve called this word to your attention it’s going to haunt you in every fashion-related story you read. It’s become a colloquialism, so ingrained into our part of speech that eliminating it doesn’t seem like an option and yet I long to do so. If only I had the self-restraint. I just know that in my next story I’m going to come across a pair of shoes or a skirt or a color that causes my finger to hover over the “C” key — the gateway drug to the rest of that four letter word.
Clearly I need help: an intervention or something. Or at the very least, if all hope is indeed lost, I’ll need your understanding and support when I inevitably add chic to a word like buffalo, or Monistat. But if you have any suggestions on a better word than “chic” (take into consideration my love of punchy, quick adjectives), or perhaps a way to avoid using it all together (have someone spray me with water each time I do?) then you know where the comments section is, and you have a moral obligation to tell it to me.
– Amelia Diamond