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Words: humongous, adj.

SURELY ONE of the ugliest words ever to slither its way into our dictionaries, humongous, or humungous, began life in the US around 1970 and has proved impossible to eradicate. A silly and affected synonym for huge or enormous, it serves no purpose not covered by those words and is thus redundant. Yet the compilers of the Chambers, Collins and Oxford dictionaries have all included it rather than leaving it in a pile of dubious neologisms and hoping it will go away.

Bodacious was another word that came into vogue at about the same time as humongous, but this has a respectable pedigree dating back to the mid- 19th century. A variant of an older dialect term, boldacious, it implies boldness and audacity rather than, as modern usage suggests, merely an ample chest.