My latest column for the Visual Thesaurus looks at the ways we use – and overuse – the word excited. One recent language change I examine: “excited for (instead of about) an event.”
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Excite first appeared in English around 1400, imported either from Old French or Latin and meaning “to set in motion, to stir up” or “to rouse up, to awaken.” It acquired specific meanings in the sciences: electric currents, light spectra, and elements are all capable of being excited – that is, set in motion or sensitized. (When exciting first came into use in the 19th century, it carried only the scientific and medical meaning of “immediately causing.”) It took until the 1820s for excite to be used in connection with emotions (“to stir up tumultuous passions”); the sexual meaning – as in the Pointer Sisters’ 1983 hit song “I’m So Excited” – was added later in the century. …
Then, beginning around 2000, there was a surge in anticipatory and positive excited for. The earliest such example I found in Google Ngrams is from 1999, in How to Talk to Your Child About Sex: “They were getting really excited for the big talk we were going to have.” From then on, there was no stopping the new construction: “excited for the house to be done” (2002), “excited for the games” (2004), “excited for the afternoon” (2005), “excited for the final races of the season” (2007), “excited for the zombie apocalypse” (2012), “excited for this panel on methods and innovations in sociolinguistics” (2016).
And just for fun:
“We’re So Excited” doormat via Amazon.
From I’m So Excited! (Pedro Almodóvar, 2013; Spanish title Los Amantes Pasajeros).
Original version of the song.
“Glee” version of the song.