Dear Whoever has decided to include the word “impactful” in online dictionaries,
This is a fake word. Such words muddy the meaning and nuance of real words. Yes, I understand that language, word use and word meanings change and develop over time; new words pop up in our lexicon continuously. And there are words that are created in conversational settings that can convey the essence of the speaker’s meaning when the right word isn’t on the tip of the tongue. Usually these words or phrases are intended to be humorous or terrifying, but were never meant to appear in print or be taken seriously as a proper word. “Ginormous,” “Paris-Hilton,” “Vancouver-Will-Win-the-Stanley-Cup-in-2011” are three examples.
However, “impactful” is not a real word and should have NEVER appeared in print. Though an online dictionary has the following entry, I cry “FOUL.”
Adjective: Having a major impact or effect: ‘an eye-catching and impactful design.'”
As you may have inferred from the description of this ersatz word, the hint at the word’s origin lies in this definition’s example phrase, “eye-catching…design.” This is a word that was created in an advertising company. Yes, advertising. The same people who brought us: “lite,” “nite,” “drinkability,” “powercision,” “signage,” I could go on.
People create such words when they are at a loss for the correct word and are too lazy/pressed for time/proud to look it up in a real dictionary or ask someone for help. So when some advertising dolt was groping for the word “effective” or “influential,” “impactful” popped into her/his head then tumbled out of her/his mouth. The other marketing/business goons in the room, upon hearing this new word, were either: too dumb to know that word isn’t real; too confused, to the point of distraction when the word was uttered, to speak up and correct this person; clearly thankful that there was someone in the room who was dumber than s/he; or not paying any attention.
People, let us not reward other’s ignorance by allowing these words to be included in our language. Let’s make people work for the language in order to truly understand word meanings and nuances. This is a difficult language, yes. But, if we band together, we can be an eradicational* force to end this madness.
The Sassy Librarian
*”eradicational” is not a real word, either. Sadly, I’m still worried about its spelling.