Colossal is shrinking, but massive continues to grow

Cool new internet toy: Ngram Viewer. It’s part of Google Books.

To see the graph in a larger size, click on it.

To see the graph in a larger size, click on it.

What did I learn in my little experiment? Well, “tremendous” seems to have peaked in the 1950s and it’s been a slow, gradual decline ever since. Nice jump for “massive” (the turquoise line), probably because of the technology revolution. “Titanic” never really amounted to much, and both “monstrous” and “colossal” gained some popularity in the 1800s, but the 1900s were unkind to them. “Stupendous” was doing a whole lot better before the Civil War. Ngram is fascinating (and addictive) and easy enough to try in just a minute or two.

You simply enter a group of words (proper nouns included) and identify a date range. In my illustration, I searched for words that mean “really, really big” from 1800 to 2008. Then, the Ngram tool searched the entire database of Google books, in a second or so, and returned a nifty graph.

You’ll find it here.

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