The New Yorker’s Comma Queen Searches For the True Meaning of the Word ‘Massive’

In the latest episode of her wonderful grammar series, the very amusing Mary Norris aka “The Comma Queen” of The New Yorker consulted a very old volume of Fowler’s Modern English Usage in order to understand the the true meaning of the word “massive” after hearing the word being used colloquially during a trip to Australia.

‘Massive in its figurative sense is a useful and expressive word that deserves to be treated with respect and discrimination. The virtue is being taken out of it now that it’s a vogue word.’ Remember, we’re talking about someone who was writing in the 1920s. So this is where it came from, Fowler. It’s a lot like the current use of awesome. Awesome has lost a lot of its meaning since people use it all the time.