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Bob’s Blog: Inflation hits the word ‘iconic’

By Bob Wood
Blogs Photo
December 07, 2012 - 21 comments

Photo: Reservoir Dogs: Iconic shades, iconic director, iconic actors.


It is a rainy Saturday morning and I'm getting more and more like the late Andy Rooney.

Cranky, that is.

A lot of things seem to turn my crank these days.

Like the word" iconic."

Seems to me that everything has become "iconic" these days.

I've been keeping a list. Some of my favourites follow.

Tim Horton's is apparently an "iconic" Canadian institution. Really? In Hamilton it is where I and so many others get their morning caffeine fix.

Following the Canadian soccer team's bronze medal victory at the Olympics this summer the Toronto Star referred to the goal scored by Oakville's Diana Matheson as "the instantly iconic strike." It was an exciting moment, for sure, but iconic?

In the TV world I find that series where the Fonz jumped the shark described as the “long-running iconic TV sitcom Happy Days."

And now it seems that one can assume that a not-yet-built building will become iconic. Case in point, the Financial Post recently opined on what will become of the site of the recently sold TorStar building at the foot of Yonge Street. FP found someone who would speculate on what would replace it.

 "I'm sure it will be something iconic," said a source.

 An internet search turns up Top Ten Iconic Photos which includes a picture of Hitler without mustache.

Then there are “Most Iconic People to Don Ray Bans.” That would be Tom Cruise, Reservoir Dogs, Debbie Harry and Michael Jackson to name just four icons.

 A story in the Economist by Jonathan Meades (Iconic: The Adjective of the Age) talks about its usage in the daily press.

 "According to Jesse Sheidlower, American editor of the OED, the New York Times's usage of "iconic" has increased from 11 instances in 1988 to 141 in 1998 to 442 in 2008. He warns that this is an extremely crude gauge of a word's currency. But if a normally scrupulous newspaper such as the New York Times employs "iconic" more than once a day, it is all too easy to figure the word's incidence in the less linguistically prescriptive newspapers."I'm thinking it is time to come up with some alternative adjectives. But that will have to wait.

Apparently it is time for this scribbler of a less linguistically prescriptive blog to do some work around the house. My iconic wife has beckoned.


December 26, 2012
Alistair Burns said:

CBC radio's Metro Morning. Five "Iconics" in less than twenty minutes. I thought it meant"Resembling a religious painting"
Now, why don't you take on "I'm like" and it's various forms ("He's like"' "She's like") etc that people are using as a substitute for "I said" etc. Drives me to distraction. This one unfortunately shows signs of having legs!

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